A history of Swedish function theory


This article traces the history of function theory in Sweden through an investigation of textbooks and articles published between 1931 and 2008. Focusing on aspects of reception history and music theory, the history is presented in four periods, all revolving around significant changes in the development of the theory. In an overall view, Swedish function theory has evolved from a dualistic theory very close to that of Hugo Riemann, to a monistic variant inspired by Austro-German scholars such as Hermann Grabner and Wilhelm Maler, and finally, in later years, to a rather unique theory that blends function theory with selected aspects from more large-scale approaches to harmony found in Schenkerian theory and Jörgen Jersild’s position theory. 

Throughout the article, unique aspects of Swedish function theory are brought out. Apart from latter years’ focus on large-scale progressions, this includes the Swedish terminology, its treatment of keys and modulations and especially its treatment of mediants. At the end of the article, the Swedish concepts of mediants are put into an international perspective in a comparison with David Kopp’s (2002) study on mediant theories.


Function theory; Funktionstheorie; functional analysis; music theory; music analysis; Riemann; Riemannian; mediants; Kopp; theoretical traditions.



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