One can find many books on "tonality"during the common practice period. e.g., Piston.
Tonality seems to be definable as the way in which composers express the chromatic scale in a organized way around one central pitch. E.g., There are 12 notes, if we express any one single pitch as "central" in some way(which way?) with the other tones falling in place in some way then we have tonal organization(e.g., just like chess, we have the king, obviously the central piece with the other pieces having specific relations to it)
Now, harmony books tend to give all kinds of rules about how to express tonality(voice leading, establishing the tonic, note resolution, etc).
The question I have, is there some specific fundamental concept that all this is built off of or is it just some arbitrary set of rules to create a structure on that produces a specific result?
Much of modality and modern music contrast and even contradict many of the tonal principles but in some ways overlap with tonality. Even many tonal pieces "break the rules".
Is all this hoopla simply to create a logical structure that has inherent stability and instability? e.g., without tonality we generally don't have a sense of a "home key", which means we don't have a place to go and a place to come back to. This seems to mimic human behavioral aspects. Hence, tonality is simply more "human like" than non-tonality.
If that is the case, are the rules of tonality born out of centuries of experience on how to achieve tonality, codified in our harmony books... or is there a mathematical foundation that the rules are derived from or are people just making it up as they go along?
When I read Piston, I tend to find a lot of circular reasoning about why things are done the way they are done...
e.g., Bach wrote a lot of music and obviously would have a certain functional pattern of composing. We find some example that backs up/demonstrates rule X. We ignore/neglect all examples that go against rule X and/or create new rules to explain why rule X was violated.
Just to be clear on what I'm trying to get at: In physics, all things essentially are derived from the basic laws governing how mass and energy interact. These laws are generally codified gravity and the nuclear forces. Most other things in physics macroscopic simplifications to make thinking about that sort of stuff easier. But fundamentally everything is derived from a few fundamental concepts. The same holds true in math and I also believe it probably holds true in all life(since, after all, painting, music, psychology etc are fundamentally based in physics). Does tonality also have some fundamental laws?
Any ideas on the subject?