Growing oranges on Mozart's apple tree: "Inner form" and aesthetic judgment

Zohar Eitan*, Roni Y. Granot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Music theorists often presume that the sections of a musical masterwork match organically, enhancing unity and value. This "inner form" should be distinguished from coherence associated with inter-opus constraints, such as conventional forms. Studies indicate that violating inter-opus constraints hardly affects listeners' aesthetic judgments. Here we examine how violating inner form affects such judgments. Musically trained and untrained listeners heard the intact opening movements of Mozart's piano sonatas, K. 280 and 332, as well as hybrids mixing sections from these two movements while maintaining overall form and tonal structure. Participants rated originals and hybrids on aesthetically relevant scales (e.g., liking, coherence, interest), after a single hearing and following extended exposure. Results show no significant preference for originals, even after repeated hearings. Music training tended to enhance preference for hybrid over original. Thus, inner form and its supposed organic unity, presumed tenets of musical genius, may not affect listeners' evaluation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)397-418
Number of pages22
JournalMusic Perception
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Aesthetic evaluation
  • Concatenationism
  • Inner unity
  • Music theory
  • Musical form


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