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Perceptual basis of evolving Western musical styles

OPEN Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | 30 May 2013

PH Rodriguez Zivic, F Shifres and GA Cecchi
Abstract
The brain processes temporal statistics to predict future events and to categorize perceptual objects. These statistics, called expectancies, are found in music perception, and they span a variety of different features and time scales. Specifically, there is evidence that music perception involves strong expectancies regarding the distribution of a melodic interval, namely, the distance between two consecutive notes within the context of another. The recent availability of a large Western music dataset, consisting of the historical record condensed as melodic interval counts, has opened new possibilities for data-driven analysis of musical perception. In this context, we present an analytical approach that, based on cognitive theories of music expectation and machine learning techniques, recovers a set of factors that accurately identifies historical trends and stylistic transitions between the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Post-Romantic periods. We also offer a plausible musicological and cognitive interpretation of these factors, allowing us to propose them as data-driven principles of melodic expectation.
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Scientific method, Perception, Machine learning, Concept, Music, Cognition, Mind, Psychology
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