Date Presented

Spring 4-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. John Eric Goff

Second Advisor

Dr. Chinthaka Liyanage

Third Advisor

Dr. Nancy Cowden


The level of dissonance in piano intervals and chords was quantified using both experimental and computational methods. Intervals and chords were played and recorded on both a Yamaha YPT-400 portable keyboard and a Steinway & Sons grand piano. The recordings were run through spectral analyses, and dissonance values were calculated using a dissonance equation. The result was a ranking of comparative dissonance levels between each chord and interval. Though the goal was to find a universal ranking of chords, it was instead determined that such a ranking cannot exist. The non-universal rankings revealed that the transition from least dissonant to most dissonant was gradual.

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