The Butterfly Schema in the Classical Instrumental Style: A Product of the Tendency for Congruence

Trevor Rawbone, Steven Jan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article integrates theories that explain schemata as psychological and statistical associations of features with those that define schemata as collections of cognitively generated archetypes. It is proposed that styles contain a spectrum of features but tend towards congruence. This propensity originates in cognition and becomes manifest in and between the features of styles. A localised structure, termed the ‘butterfly’ schema, is argued to be in part a product of the tendency for congruence in the Classical instrumental style. An analysis of the styles and schemata of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods explicates their distinct forms of congruent structuring. A survey of European instrumental music c. 1750–1850 compares the quantity and type of butterfly schemata in samples from the first half of this time-period with those from the second. It is found that butterfly schemata with highly congruent features are more common in the earlier, Classical-period samples, suggesting that they are a product of the tendency for congruence in the particular form defined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-43
Number of pages43
JournalMusic Analysis
Early online date30 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2019


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