Playing with the Edge: Tipping Points and the Role of Tonality

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


This article centers on the phenomenon of tipping points—a case of extreme pulse elasticity—in music performance, and the dynamic interplay between tonal structure and musical timing. The article presents the idea and principles of tipping points. Examples illus- trate three types of global and local tipping points: melodic, boundary, and cadential. Focusing on cadential tipping points, the article considers the role of tonality in a number of examples, thus bridging the subject of tipping points and prior work on the modeling of tonal- ity. The spiral array model for tonality is described, including how the model traces the dynamics of tonal perception. A real-time implementation of the model is applied to cadential tipping point examples to visualize the effect of tipping points on tonal perception. The analyses show how tipping points influence tonal per- ception—clarifying, focusing, and exploiting harmonic function, in the case of cadential tipping points, to evoke tension and shape narrative structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-366
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • thresholds
  • expressive timing
  • tonality
  • music performance
  • visualisation


Dive into the research topics of 'Playing with the Edge: Tipping Points and the Role of Tonality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this