Scales from divergent musical cultures tend to have both intuitive structural similarities and one common functional property: within a given scale, each note takes on a unique shade of meaning in the context of the scale as a whole. It may be that certain structural traits facilitate this functional property—in other words, that scales with particular structural characteristics are more globally integrated and capable of being processed in a top-down manner. Representing pitch collections as bit strings, the current work shows that in Western European, Northern Indian, and Japanese traditional musics, collections that are more densely packed with recursively nested non-overlapping, uniquely identifiable repeated substrings (more hierarchizable) are more likely to appear as scales (p = .002).

This content is only available via PDF.