Memesatz contra Ursatz: Memetic perspectives on the aetiology and evolution of musical structure

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Abstract

This article discusses the aetiology and evolution of musical structure, specifically the sonata-form exposition, from a memetic perspective. It regards established musical forms as replicated schemata arising from the conglomeration of foreground-level memes, the resultant archetypes (structural memes or Memesätze) being replicated (reinstantiated) by different collections of functionally analogous (allelic) memes. After a discussion of the theoretical background - including the top-down/bottom-up generative dichotomy as it applies to form, and some attributes of memes affecting conglomeration - three sonata expositions, by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, are discussed as specific evidence in support of the general hypotheses advanced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-50
Number of pages48
JournalMusicae Scientiae
Volume14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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