Voice-Leading Prototypes and Harmonic Function in Two Chorale Corpora

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6726)


We describe a data representation for voice leading between two sonorities in a chorale texture, and a similarity measure for these voice leadings. These tools are used in an empirical study of the relationship between voice leading and harmonic function in a corpus of Bach chorales and a corpus of Lutheran chorales from a hundred years earlier. Common voice-leading types in the corpora are subjected to a cluster analysis that is readily interpreted in terms of harmonic functional syntax. We are thus able not only to read a theory of harmony directly out of a corpus, but to do so without building in a priori notions of chord structure, rootedness, or even key. The cluster analysis also clarifies important syntactic differences between the pre-tonal (modal) corpus and the Bach (tonal) corpus.


Corpus Analysis Voice Leading Tonality Modality Harmonic Function Clustering 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale UniversityUSA
  2. 2.New York UniversityUSA

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