The traditional rules of voice-leading in Western music are explicated using experimentally established perceptual principles. Six core principles are shown to account for the majority of voice-leading rules given in historical and contemporary music theory tracts. These principles are treated in a manner akin to axioms in a formal system from which the traditional rules of voice-leading are derived. Nontraditional rules arising from the derivation are shown to predict formerly unnoticed aspects of voice-leading practice. In addition to the core perceptual principles, several auxiliary principles are described. These auxiliary principles are occasionally linked to voice-leading practice and may be regarded as compositional "options" that shape the music-making in perceptually unique ways. It is suggested that these auxiliary principles distinguish different types of part writing, such as polyphony, homophony, and close harmony. A theory is proposed to account for the aesthetic origin of voice-leading practices.
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