A memetic analysis of a phrase by Beethoven: Calvinian perspectives on similarity and lexicon-abstraction

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This article discusses some general issues arising from the study of similarity in music, both human-conducted and computer-aided, and then progresses to a consideration of similarity relationships between patterns in a phrase by Beethoven, from the first movement of the Piano Sonata in A flat major op. 110 (1821), and various potential memetic precursors. This analysis is followed by a consideration of how the kinds of similarity identified in the Beethoven phrase might be understood in psychological/conceptual and then neurobiological terms, the latter by means of William Calvin's Hexagonal Cloning Theory. This theory offers a mechanism for the operation of David Cope's concept of the lexicon, conceived here as a museme allele-class. I conclude by attempting to correlate and map the various spaces within which memetic replication occurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-465
Number of pages23
JournalPsychology of Music
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


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