In music cognition and musical analysis, the study of melodic expectation considers the engagement of the brain's predictive mechanisms in response to music. For example, if the ascending musical partial octave "do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-..." is heard, listeners familiar with Western music will have a strong expectation to hear or provide one more note, "do", to complete the octave.
Melodic expectation can be considered at the esthesic level, in which case the focus lies on the listener and its response to music. It can be considered at the neutral level, in which case the focus switches to the actual musical content, such as the "printed notes themselves". At the neutral level, the observer may consider logical implications projected onto future elements by past elements or derive statistical observations from information theory.
A multifaceted concept
The notion of melodic expectation has prompted the existence of a corpus of studies in which authors often choose to provide their own terminology in place of using the literature's. This results in an important number of different terms that all point towards the phenomenon of musical expectation:
- Expectancy, expectation, expectedness, and in French attente
- Implication / realization
- Implication (independent from realization)
- Musical force(s)
- Previsibility, predictability and prediction
- Tension / release, tension / relaxation
- Closure, which may be used as the ending of the expectation process, as a group boundary, or as both simultaneously
Expectation can also be found mentioned in relation to concepts originating from the field of information theory such as entropy. Hybridization of information theory and humanities results in the birth of yet other notions, particularly variations upon the notion of entropy modified for the need of description of musical content.
Consideration of musical expectation can be sorted into four trends.
- A first trend may include publications written in the 1950s by Meyer, Younblood and Krahenbuehl & Coons that are concerned with objectivization and rationalization of the concepts of arousal, uncertainty, or non-confirmation of a prediction using information theory.
- A second trend may concern the more recent publications that include a step-by-step music analysis process at the neutral level, such as the generative theory of tonal music and Narmour's Implication-Realization model.
- A third trend may provide quantitative models based on computer algorithms, such as Margulis' model of melodic expectation or Farbood's model of musical tension.
- A fourth trend may group generalist theories whose focus lies neither in step-by-step processes nor in quantitative operations, and may include elements pertinent to the esthesic level such as cognition and neurophysiology. This includes Larson's "musical forces" and Huron's theory of general expectation.
Leonard Meyer's Emotion and Meaning in Music is the classic text in music expectation. Meyer's starting point is the belief that the experience of music (as a listener) is derived from one's emotions and feelings about the music, which themselves are a function of relationships within the music itself. Meyer writes that listeners bring with them a vast body of musical experiences that, as one listens to a piece, conditions one's response to that piece as it unfolds. Meyer argued that music's evocative power derives from its capacity to generate, suspend, prolongate, or violate these expectations.
Meyer models listener expectation in two levels. On a perceptual level, Meyer draws on Gestalt psychology to explain how listeners build mental representations of auditory phenomena. Above this raw perceptual level, Meyer argues that learning shapes (and re-shapes) one's expectations over time.
Generative Theory of Tonal Music
Narmour's (1992) Implication-Realization (I-R) Model is a detailed formalization based on Meyer's work on expectation. A fundamental difference between Narmour's models and most theories of expectation lies in the author's conviction according to which a genuine theory should be formulated in falsifiable terms. According to Narmour, prior knowledge of musical expectation is based too heavily upon percepts, introspection and internalization, which bring insoluble epistemological problems. The theory focuses on how implicative intervals set up expectations for certain realizations to follow. The I-R model includes two primary factors: proximity and direction. Lerdahl extended the system by developing a tonal pitch space and adding a stability factor (based on Lerdahl's prior work) and a mobility factor.
Bimbot and al.'s System & Contrast model
Mainly developed at IRISA since 2011 by Frédéric Bimbot and Emmanuel Deruty, the system & contrast or S&C model of implication derives from the two fundamental hypotheses underlying the I-R model. It is rooted in Narmour's conviction according to which any model of expectation should be expressed in logical, falsifiable terms. It operates at the neutral level and differs from the I-R model in several regards:
- while Narmour's two fundamental hypotheses address the relations between three elements, the fundamental hypotheses leading to the S&C model address the relations between four elements. Therefore, it can be considered as more directly suited to the classical sentence and period forms, as well as to popular music forms;
- while Narmour's I-R model addresses one-dimensional relations, the S&C model includes relations on two potentially independent dimensions;
- the S&C model may encompass all aspects of the musical language, not only the melodic structure.
Margulis's model of melodic expectation
Margulis's 2005 model further extends the I-R model. First, Margulis added a melodic attraction factor, from some of Lerdahl's work. Second, while the I-R model relies on a single (local) interval to establish an implication (an expectation), Margulis attempts to model intervalic (local) expectation as well as more deeply schematic (global) expectation. For this, Margulis relies on Lerdahl's and Jackendoff's Generative Theory of Tonal Music to provide a time-span reduction. At each hierarchical level (a different time scale) in the reduction, Margulis applies her model. These separate levels of analysis are combined through averaging, with each level weighted according to values derived from the time-span reduction. Finally, Margulis's model is explicit and realizable, and yields quantitative output. The output – melodic expectation at each time instant – is a single function of time.
Margulis's model describes three distinct types of listener reactions, each derived from listener-experienced tension:
- Surprise-Tension: inversely proportional to degree of expectancy; results in intensity or dynamism.
- Denial-Tension: proportional to the discrepancy between the expectancy of the most expected event and the expectancy of the actually perceived event; results in desire, drive, will.
- Expectancy-Tension: proportional to the degree of expectancy of the most expected event (in other words, if the listener had no idea what to expect next, the expectancy-tension would be low); results in strain or yearning.
Farbood's model of musical tension
Larson's musical forces
Huron's theory of general expectation
- Elizabeth H. Margulis (2007). "Surprise and Listening Ahead: Analytical Engagements with Musical Tendencies". Music Theory Spectrum. 29 (2): 197–217. doi:10.1525/mts.2007.29.2.197.
- Jean-Jacques Nattiez (1992). Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology of Music (Musicologie générale et sémiologie), translated by Carolyn Abbate. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-02714-2.
- Eugene Narmour (1992). The Analysis and Cognition of Melodic Complexity: the Implication-Realization model. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-56842-3.
- Eugene Narmour (1990). The Analysis and Cognition of Basic Melodic Structures: The Implication-Realization Model. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-56845-4.
- Emmanuel Deruty, Frédéric Bimbot & Brigitte van Wymeersch (2013). "Methodological and musicological investigation of the System & Contrast model for musical form description". INRIA/Université Catholique de Louvain. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Joseph E. Youngblood (1958). "Style as information". Journal of Music Theory. 2 (1): 24–35. doi:10.2307/842928. JSTOR 842928.
- Morwaread M. Farbood (2006). "A quantitative, parametric model of musical tension, submitted to the Program in Media Arts and Sciences, School of Architecture and Planning, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Tod Machover, supervisor)" (PDF). Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2014-11-12.
- Fabien Lévy (2004). "Complexité grammatologique et complexité aperceptive en musique, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the EHESS (Jean-Marc Chouvel, Marc Chemillier, directors)" (PDF) (in French). Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
- William F. Thompson (2007). "David Huron, Sweet anticipation: music and the psychology of expectation". Empirical Musicology Review. II (2). Retrieved 2014-11-11.
- David Huron (2006). Sweet anticipation: music and the psychology of expectation. M.I.T. Press. ISBN 9780262582780.
- Leonard B. Meyer (1957). "Meaning in music and information theory". The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. 15 (4): 412–424. doi:10.2307/427154. JSTOR 427154.
- Eugene Narmour (2000). "Music expectation by cognitive rule-mapping". Music Perception. 17 (3): 329–398. doi:10.2307/40285821. JSTOR 40285821.
- Vincent Arlettaz (2000). Musica Ficta, une histoire des sensibles du XIIIe au XVIe siècle (in French). Sprimont, Pierre Mardaga Editeur. ISBN 978-2870097274.
- Joel Lester (2002). Rameau and eighteenth-century harmonic theory, The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory, directed by Thomas Christensen. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521686983.
- Elizabeth H. Margulis (2005). "A model of melodic expectation". Music Perception. 22 (4): 663–714. doi:10.1525/mp.2005.22.4.663.
- Samer Abdallah & Mark Plumbley (2009). "Information dynamics: patterns of expectation and surprise in the perception of music". Connection Science. 21 (2–3): 89–117. doi:10.1080/09540090902733756.
- Rita Aiello (2007). "David Huron, Sweet anticipation: music and the psychology of expectation". Empirical Musicology Review. II (2). Retrieved 2014-11-11.
- Jamshed J. Bharucha (1993). Rita Aiello (ed.). Tonality and Expectation, in Musical Perceptions. Oxford University Press. pp. 213–239. ISBN 9780195064766.
- Jamshed J. Bharucha (1987). "Music Cognition and Perceptual Facilitation: A Connectionist Framework". Music Perception. 5 (1): 1–30. doi:10.2307/40285384. JSTOR 40285384.
- James C. Carlsen (1981). "Some factors which influence melodic expectancy". Psychomusicology, I. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
- Lola Cuddy & Carole Lunney (1995). "Expectancies Generated by Melodic Intervals: Perceptual Judgments of Melodic Continuity". Perception & Psychophysics. 57 (4): 451–462. doi:10.3758/BF03213071. PMID 7596743.
- Mark A. Schmukler (1989). "Expectation in music: Investigation of melodic and harmonic processes". Music Perception. 7 (2): 109–149. doi:10.2307/40285454. JSTOR 40285454.
- Yizhak Sadaï (1986). "Les aspects systémiques et énigmatiques de la musique tonale, points d'appui et points d'interrogation". International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music (in French). 17 (2): 299–332. doi:10.2307/836671. JSTOR 836671.
- E. Glenn Schellenberg (1996). "Expectancy in melody: tests of the implication-realization model". Cognition. 58 (1): 75–125. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(95)00665-6. PMID 8808327.
- E. Glenn Schellenberg (1997). "Simplifying the Implication-Realization Model of Melodic Expectancy". Music Perception. 14 (3): 295–318. doi:10.2307/40285723. JSTOR 40285723.
- Naomi Cumming (1992). "Eugene Narmour's Theory of Melody". Music Analysis. 11 (2/3): 354–374. doi:10.2307/854031. JSTOR 854031.
- Bob Snyder (2001). Music and Memory. M.I.T Press. ISBN 9780262692373.
- Steve Larson & Leigh Vanhandel (2005). "Measuring musical forces". Music Perception. 23 (2): 119–136. doi:10.1525/mp.2005.23.2.119.
- Lejaren Hiller & Ramon Fuller (1967). "Structure and Information in Webern's Symphonie, Op. 21". Journal of Music Theory. 11 (1): 60–115. doi:10.2307/842949. JSTOR 842949.
- Leon Knopoff et William Hutchinson (1981). "Information theory for music continua". Journal of Music Theory. 25 (1): 17–44. doi:10.2307/843465. JSTOR 843465.
- Elizabeth H. Margulis et Andrew P. Beatty (2008). "Musical style, psychoaesthetics, and prospects for entropy as an analytic tool". Computer Music Journal. 32 (4): 64–78. doi:10.1162/comj.2008.32.4.64.
- John L. Snyder (1990). "Entropy as a measure of musical style: the influence of a priori assumptions". Music Theory Spectrum. 12 (1): 121–160. doi:10.2307/746148. JSTOR 746148.
- Julie Rushton. "Resolution". Grove Music Online. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
- Fred Lerdhal & Ray Jackendoff (1983). A Generative Theory of Tonal Music. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-62107-6.
- Kofi Agawu (1992). "Theory and Practice in the Analysis of the Nineteenth-Century Lied". Music Analysis. 11 (1): 3–36. doi:10.2307/854301. JSTOR 854301.
- Sarah E. Culpepper. "Musical time and information theory entropy, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree in Music in the Graduate College of The University of Iowa". The University of Iowa. Retrieved 2014-11-11.
- David Krahenbuehl & Edgar Coons (1959). "Information as a measure of experience in music". The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. 17 (4): 510–522. doi:10.2307/428224. JSTOR 428224.
- Leonard B. Meyer (1956). Emotion and Meaning in Music. Chicago University Press. ISBN 978-0-226-52139-8.
- Fred Lerdahl (2001). Tonal Pitch Space. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-505834-5.
- Frédéric Bimbot; Emmanuel Deruty; Gabriel Sargent; Emmanuel Vincent (2012). "System & Contrast: A Polymorphous Model Of The Inner Organization Of Structural Segments Within Music Pieces". INRIA: 40. Retrieved 2014-11-09. Cite journal requires
- Frédéric Bimbot; Emmanuel Deruty; Gabriel Sargent; Emmanuel Vincent (June 2012). "Complementary report to the Article "Semiotic structure labeling of music pieces: concepts, methods and annotation conventions" (Proceedings ISMIR 2012)". INRIA. Retrieved 2014-11-09. Cite journal requires
- Frédéric Bimbot; Emmanuel Deruty; Gabriel Sargent; Emmanuel Vincent (October 2012). "Semiotic structure labeling of music pieces: concepts, methods and annotation conventions" (PDF). ISMIR. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
- Frédéric Bimbot, Gabriel Sargent, Emmanuel Deruty Corentin Guichaoua and Emmanuel Vincent (January 2014). "Semiotic Description Of Music Structure : An Introduction To The Quaero/Metiss Structural Annotations". AES. Retrieved 2014-11-09.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- William E. Caplin (1998). Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195143997.