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Robert Mayrhofer's Theory of Harmony Open Access


Other title
Robert Mayrhofer
music theory
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Thomson, Sten
Supervisor and department
Klumpenhouwer, Henry (Music)
Examining committee member and department
Moshaver, Maryam (Music)
Beard, William (English and Film Studies)
Department of Music

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
This work examines the harmonic theory of the Austrian music theorist Robert Mayrhofer (1863-1935) as described in the author’s first two treatises, Psychologie des Klanges and Die organische Harmonielehre. In presuming that musical listening involves the visual conceptualization of pitch as points in “tone space,” Mayrhofer’s harmonic theory builds upon the perception of the major third as an essential interval, the n-Strecke, to create a harmonic system consisting of distinct harmonic structures as expansions in tone space. These structures,which Mayrhofer calls cells, delineate various levels of expansion in tone space that characterize the boundaries of tonality. From these structural levels, Mayrhofer develops the concept of expanded tonality that in his view underlies most music composed since Bach and is especially helpful in describing the highly chromatic music of late tonality. Mayhofer thus develops a highly original and controversial theory of harmony from a single musical perception.
License granted by Sten Thomson ( on 2010-08-11T18:02:27Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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