This article documents the use of pitch circularity and Shepard tones in Western art music, 1550–1990. My thesis is that composers have come to exploit the perceptual as well as musical aspects of pitch circularity. Jean-Claude Risset, whose orchestral work, Phases, I analyze in some detail, has been especially successful in both aspects. Additionally, I posit a theory correlating the presence or absence of pitch circularity in music with the aesthetic of formal closure.

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