Temporal Intentionality Graph:

A Phenomenological Method of Metatonal Music Analysis

This method of analysis was first proposed in Fleet, P. (2009), Ferrucio Busoni: A Phenomenological Approach to his Music and Aesthetics (Lambert Academic Publishing) and has since been developed and its revised method explained and shown with case studies in Fleet, P. (2021), Musics With and After Tonality: Mining the Gap (Routledge). The following programme enables the generation of a graph to illuminate the space and structure of the music being investigated.

A Temporal Intentionality Graph is really a rather simple concept. To understand the form of a piece of music, we can consider its configuration in space as experienced through time. This is the Intentionality part of the title, an understanding of the active yet holistic connection between the subject and the object and, to quote Husserl from which this theory is based: 'the meaningful element in each such single act must be sought in the act of experience' (Husserl, 2001, p. 79). Each graph represents the experience of an imaginary representative listener (there is no claim to a universal truth in this method, but rather a desire to find a common understanding of non-generic musical structures). The graph has two axes: one is of the memory of the sound and one is of the presentation of sound. This is the Temporal element of the title. Both axes run in parallel (a development from the initial methodology where they started from a single point of emergence, and to better show the connections in an equal rather than incremental representation of space) and are read from left to right. Along the axes are segments of material, moments of salience that Lerdahl and Jackendoff (1983) might refer to as divisions of the whole that 'when confronted with a series of elements or a sequence of events, a person spontaneously segments or "chunks" the elements or events into groups of some kind' (p. 13). Such moments can consist of rhythmic, melodic, harmonic, dynamic, textural, orchestrational, or a mix of these and other characteristics to create saliency. The labels of the salient moments are shown in this chapter within curly brackets { }. There are no hard and fast rules for segmentation in this methodology; such a decision is left to the critical listener to make, but we can be reasonably sure that to employ this mode of putting the music into discrete sections there must be a consistent and critical rationale for each action. The lines that connect the salient moments along the axes are those that show recognisable similarity of material or exact repetition. The structure emerges from the density and spatial presentation of these lines along a temporal experience. Gaps between the lines emerge where new materials are heard, dense connections occur where material is repeated and reconsidered in quick succession, and connections are made between structural markers where the repetition of materials act as formal signifiers, such as opening and closing materials. To read this graph is not to identify a set of common structures across metatonal compositions, although we will find some top level commonalities, but to reveal the structure of the music that is being considered in a space that can then be discussed in its own terms and analytically unpacked without any need for the catch-all of 'moment form'.


My first thanks go to Adam Chatterley, who created the first version of this code and who forever stopped me from having to generate these graphs using Microsoft Paint. My second thanks go to Jack Scott who has since refined the code, and presented this website in a user friendly format.


Husserl, E. (2001). Logical Investigations (J. N. Findlay, Trans. Vol. 1). London and New York: Routledge.
Lerdahl, F. & Jackendoff, R. (1983). A generative theory of tonal music Cambridge, Mass. ; London: MIT Press.