Rethinking the Role of the Golden Section in Music and Music Scholarship

Phillips, Michelle E. (2019) Rethinking the Role of the Golden Section in Music and Music Scholarship. Creativity Research Journal (00). pp. 1-9. ISSN 1040-0419

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The golden section has become a well-known concept in the study and practice of music. However, no study has examined why the golden section may have become so popular in both music practice and analysis. The meta-analysis reported here reveals that the golden section has been related to one or more pieces of music in 113 items of published scholarly literature. The role of the golden section has changed over the last century; compositional intention has become less of a consideration, and recently, scholars often presume familiarity with the golden section in their readership, frequently giving a single mention of the concept, with no definition of this. Reasons for the prominence of the golden section in music scholarship may include it being a useful pedagogical tool. Another reason may be linked to aesthetic value; there are examples in wider scholarly and non-scholarly literature of the link between the golden section and beauty in music being assumed. Some studies also claim that the golden section may be perceived aurally. However, this seems questionable given results of empirical work regarding the perception of musical form. Research in the field of psychology has shown a new skepticism toward the golden section as an artifice of preference and a naturally occurring proportion. Perhaps music scholarship could benefit from similar reflection when considering the role of the golden section, particularly when assuming any perceptual salience. Scholars from different fields (for example, music and psychology) may benefit from an awareness of each other’s work, which may in turn advance scholarship in both fields.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Depositing User: Thomas Wise
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2019 15:10
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2019 15:51

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