[Smt-talk] Symmetry and Musical Aesthetics

Murphy, Scott Brandon smurphy at ku.edu
Fri Dec 10 07:24:08 PST 2010

Weyl¹s book, among others, is cited in Robert Morgan¹s ³Symmetrical Form and
Common-Practice Tonality² (MTS 20/1), which is one of the first items that
popped to my mind when reading Laurel Parsons¹s post (particularly regarding


Scott Murphy
Associate Professor of Music Theory
University of Kansas School of Music
smurphy at ku.edu

on 12/10/10 8:15 AM, Soderberg, Stephen at ssod at loc.gov wrote:
> ... I've never read a better "cross-disciplinary" discussion than Hermann
> Weyl's beautiful little book, Symmetry
> (http://www.amazon.com/Symmetry-Hermann-Weyl/dp/0691023743 -- not much in it
> about music per se though).
> Steve Soderberg
> Stephen Soderberg
> Senior Specialist
>    for Contemporary Music
> Music Division
> Library of Congress
> Washington, DC
> From: smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org
> [mailto:smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of Laurel
> Parsons
> Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2010 1:55 PM
> To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
> Subject: [Smt-talk] Symmetry and Musical Aesthetics
> Dear colleagues,
> An upper-level undergraduate student at our liberal arts and sciences
> university is embarking on a long-term interdisciplinary study of the
> relationship between symmetry and beauty.  She is an accomplished violinist,
> but is not a music major and has no post-tonal theory background as yet;
> however, she is both well-versed and interested in calculus, statistics, and
> other mathematical forms so could pick it up fairly easily. While there are
> hundreds of scholarly articles on various kinds of compositional symmetry in
> the music of Western composers to which I could refer her, I'm wondering if
> anyone can recommend:
> 1) a good historical overview of how symmetry has been used in Western music,
> and/or
> 2) scholarly writing that addresses the aesthetics of musical symmetry rather
> than (")simply(") the compositional mechanics of its usage in the works of
> specific composers.
> Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
> Best wishes,
> Laurel Parsons

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