Huron (1994) recently calculated the tonal (sensory) consonance for interval categories for all scales that can be drawn from the 12 equally tempered pitch classes. Among scales with seven tones, the combinations that allow the highest tonal consonance were found in the diatonic major, natural minor, and several other scales. In this paper, an extension of Huron's approach that begins with a single tone and successively adds tones that bring the most tonal consonance to the existing set is tested. Based on (1) the order in which tones are added and (2) the mean tonal consonance of the intervals after each addition, values are assigned to each tone that are significantly correlated (p< .001) with ratings of stability that tones display in major and minor key contexts reported by Krumhansl and Kessler (1982). These findings suggest that tonal consonance is not only facilitated in major and minor scales, as Huron found, but that tonal consonance may also account for the tonal hierarchy for tones in both major and minor key contexts.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.