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In the paper, the total damping and synchronising torques, which determine the dynamic stability of a synchronous generator in a power system, have been traced to their origin. The positive and negative components released or consumed by the voltage regulator, and by the various windings of the machine, have been isolated, with the object of making a quantitative assessment of the effects of various gains and time constants on the dynamic stability of a synchronous machine under different operating conditions. The analysis is based on the properties of quadratic invariance in tensor calculus. An alternative solution by network analysis has also been provided to establish the validity of the tensor approach.