Dmitri Tymoczko

July 8, 2006

dmitris thang.gif

What a joy to see a young scholar/composer/music theorist pop onto my screen this morning. Dmitri Tymoczko is an Assistant Professor at Princeton and has come up with a lot of new ways to think about music theory, and ultimately, new ways to describe structure in music. He may leave me in the dust with math, but that’s ok. This is a direction we need to go. The old ways of describing music are creaking and need updating badly. The articles on his home page look very sexy (that is to a nerd like me) and I can’t wait to read them.

There is an excellent overview of his work on Princeton’s news page, and the July 7, 2006 issue of SCIENCE has an article that represents his most recent research.

Check out some of the movies Mr. Tymoczko has put on his website that illustrate his methods. Fascinating stuff.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

djw July 9, 2006 at 11:03 am

Tymoczko’s formalism and animations are attractive, but with regard to representing pitches on lattices, he is largely covering territory already examined by (among others) Walter O’Connell, Erv Wilson, James Tenney, and Paul Erlich.

Roger Bourland July 9, 2006 at 11:33 am

Can you direct me to some of their work?

djw July 9, 2006 at 1:09 pm

Parts 1 & 2 of O’Connell’s “Tone Spaces” were published in die Reihe.

Erv Wilson has largely published in Xenharmonikon. Many of his papers have been archived online at For an animated treatment of a Wilson lattice, see (you need Excel for this to work).

Tenney’s article “John Cage and The Theory of Harmony” is included in the Soundings issue devoted to his work. Also recommended is the essay describing his work “Changes” for six harps in PNM.

Paul Erlich’s essay on the “Forms of Tonality” is to be found in the next (and last) issue of Xenharmonikon.

dmitri July 12, 2006 at 5:32 am

By the way, DJW is wrong, in my view. There is a very old tradition, dating back to the 18th century, of representing pitch using discrete lattices. These spaces generate completely different geometries from the ones described in my paper, and are not useful for representing voice leading.

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