Mr. Twister

Новости бессмыслицы
Studies have shown that some musical pieces may preferentially activate reward centers in the brain. Less is known, however, about the structural aspects of music that are associated with this activation. Based on the music cognition literature, we propose two hypotheses for why some musical pieces are preferred over others. The first, the Absolute-Surprise Hypothesis, states that unexpected events in music directly lead to pleasure. The second, the Contrastive-Surprise Hypothesis, proposes that the juxtaposition of unexpected events and subsequent expected events leads to an overall rewarding response. We tested these hypotheses within the framework of information theory, using the measure of "surprise." This information-theoretic variable mathematically describes how improbable an event is given a known distribution. We performed a statistical investigation of surprise in the harmonic structure of songs within a representative corpus of Western popular music, namely, the McGill Billboard Project corpus. We found that chords of songs in the top quartile of the Billboard chart showed greater average surprise than those in the bottom quartile. We also found that the different sections within top-quartile songs varied more in their average surprise than the sections within bottom-quartile songs. The results of this study are consistent with both the Absolute- and Contrastive-Surprise Hypotheses. Although these hypotheses seem contradictory to one another, we cannot yet discard the possibility that both absolute and contrastive types of surprise play roles in the enjoyment of popular music. We call this possibility the Hybrid-Surprise Hypothesis. The results of this statistical investigation have implications for both music cognition and the human neural mechanisms of esthetic judgments.