I can't tell if transformational theories are supposed to be generalizations of traditional harmonic theory to apply to all tertian harmonies or an alternative that only works in the case of certain stereotypically chromatic progressions.

To that end, I would be very interested to see how neo-Riemannian analysis could be applied to music that IS straightforwardly tonal. Obviously we'd lose some structure without taking into account all that we know about the particular hierarchies inherent to most, say, Mozartian music, but what information would be obtained from such an analysis, and how would it overlap/be different than what we'd get from something like a Schenkerian analysis?

Any relevant articles/books would be much appreciated!

  • 2
    A better way to ask this question might be for you to pick a piece of tonal music, do your best to do a Neo-Riemannian analysis of that piece, and then add that material to the question and ask for help on it. Mar 13, 2018 at 20:30

1 Answer 1


This is a good question, and it shows the main argument among the neo-Riemannian and Schenkerian camps: that neo-Riemannian theory only shows local chromatic events, whereas Schenkerian theory shows global events.

I think the first thing you should consult would be Volume 2 of the Journal of Schenkerian Studies; this volume was dedicated to integrating NRT with Schenkerian theory. You can read abstracts for that volume here. (Normally we try to summarize what links point to, but it's pretty much impossible to summarize an entire scholarly volume of 5 articles.)


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