At first blush, the pair discrete/continuous seems to take us far from the concerns of musicology and place us firmly in the realm of statistics, data analysis, and number crunching. Put graphically, “discrete data” translates into dots or interrupted lines, while “continuous data” implies a curve. This would mean counting and measuring—how can these activities be relevant to music?

Our initial association might be with computers, but it is not necessary to invoke that squishy entity called the “digital humanities” here.1 We fare better if we think of the discrete/continuous pair in the context of a different and seemingly outmoded approach to music aesthetics. Going back in time, beyond the influential Kantian tradition,...

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