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Symmetrical Form and Common-Practice Tonality

Robert P. Morgan
Music Theory Spectrum
Vol. 20, No. 1 (Spring, 1998), pp. 1-47
Published by: on behalf of the Society for Music Theory
DOI: 10.2307/746155
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/746155
Page Count: 47
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Symmetrical Form and Common-Practice Tonality
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Abstract

This article is a study of symmetry, briefly as applied to objects in two-dimensional space and pitch-class space, then more extensively to musical form. Despite the limited presence of complete symmetry in tonal music, the concept--along with the related one of symmetry-breaking--is helpful for understanding this music's formal properties. Special attention is given to a rare kind of antecedent-consequent period in which symmetry--in some cases retrograde, but more commonly transpositonal--is rigorously preserved. Its evolution is traced in compositions by Haydn, Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, and Scriabin.

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