Musical tonality and synchronization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current study is motivated by some observations of highly nonlinear dynamical effects in biological auditory systems. We examine the hypothesis that one of the underlying mechanisms responsible for the observed nonlinearity is a self-excited oscillation (SEO). According to this hypothesis the detection and processing of input audio signals by biological auditory systems is performed by coupling the input signal with an internal element undergoing SEO. Under appropriate conditions such coupling may result in synchronization between the input signal and the SEO. In this paper we present some supporting evidence for this hypothesis by showing that some well-known phenomena in musical tonality can be explained by the Hopf model of SEO (see Hassard B. D. et al., Theory and Applications of Hopf Bifurcation, Vol. 41 (Cambridge University Press) 1981) and the Arnold model of synchronization. Moreover, some mathematical properties of these models are employed as guidelines for the construction of some modulations that can be applied to a given musical composition. The construction of some intriguing patterns of musical harmony is demonstrated by applying these modulations to known musical pieces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10004
JournalEurophysics Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


Dive into the research topics of 'Musical tonality and synchronization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this