A spectral pitch class model of the probe tone data and scalic tonality

Milne, Andrew; Laney, Robin and Sharp, David (2015). A spectral pitch class model of the probe tone data and scalic tonality. Music Perception, 32(4) pp. 364–393.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/MP.2015.32.4.364


In this paper, we introduce a small family of novel bottom-up (sensory) models of the Krumhansl and Kessler (1982) probe tone data. The models are based on the spectral pitch class similarities between all twelve pitch classes and the tonic degree and tonic triad. Cross-validation tests of a wide selection of models show ours to have amongst the highest fits to the data. We then extend one of our models to predict the tonics of a variety of different scales such as the harmonic minor, melodic minor, and harmonic major. The model produces sensible predictions for these scales. Furthermore, we also predict the tonics of a small selection of microtonal scales—scales that do not form part of any musical culture. These latter predictions may be tested when suitable empirical data have been collected.

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