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Re: On the Grammar of Music

Isn't this just a quarrel about the meaning of the term "rule"? 
Surely there are rules governing the types of chords and types of chord progressions to be found within a certain style. The term "style" does in fact refer to a set of "rules". The thing is that the term rule does not here imply the "unbreakable". It rather points at a certain way of doing things. Oxford dictionary defines "As a rule" like this: "Usually; more often than not." 
Then it is obvious that we may call the various cognitive schemes related to different styles as sets of pattern rules - the chordal progressions we find in the music of  J.S. Bach are of a different kind than those used by the grunge-band Nirvana. Run a number of songs this through a statistics programme and you will find that there is a highly significant difference between the two. It is very "handy" to refer to these different chord-progression schemes as different chord-progression "rules". Rules, grammars, expectancies - the bottom line is that it all relates to the same. Let us not make things more difficult than they really are.

Odd Torleiv
Odd Torleiv Furnes
Department of Musicology
University of Oslo