Affinity Spaces and Their Host Set Classes

  • José Oliveira Martins
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 37)


This paper proposes the organization of pitch-class space according to the notion of affinities discussed in medieval scale theory and shows that the resultant arrangement of intervallic affinities establishes a privileged correspondence with certain symmetrical set classes. The paper is divided in three sections. The first section proposes a pitch-class cycle, the Dasian space, which generalizes the periodic pattern of the dasian scale discussed in the ninthcentury Enchiriadis treatises (Palisca 1995). The structure of this cycle is primarily derived from pitch relations that correspond to the medieval concepts of transpositio and transformatio.1 Further examination of the space’s properties shows that the diatonic collection holds a privileged status (host set class) among the embedded segments in the cycle. The second section proposes a generalized construct (affinity spaces) by lifting some of the intervallic constraints to the structure of the Dasian space, while retaining the relations of transpositio and transformatio, and the privileged status of host set classes.2 The final section examines some of the properties of host set classes, and in turn proposes “rules” for constructing affinity spaces from their host sets. The study of affinity spaces will give us insights regarding scalar patterning, inter-scale continuity, the combination of interval cycles, voice leading, and harmonic distance.


Affinity Space Modal Quality Privileged Status Modular Unit Music Theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Oliveira Martins
    • 1
  1. 1.Eastman School of MusicUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA

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