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54 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Music and Surprise19 septembre 2007
E. N. Anderson
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Finally, a real five-star book about music. For some reason, there are thousands of books about language, but almost no serious ones analyzing the biology and psychology of humanity's other communication systesms. Every society has a highly developed musical tradition, every society uses music in countless ways including the most sacred religious ceremonies, and yet hardly anyone has stepped forward to analyze it as a basic communication channel for humans. David Huron's book is on surprise in music. He shows how music creates expectations of pattern, from simple rhythm up to very complex patterns (the concerto, the symphony...) that only sophisticated listeners know. Musicians notoriously love to play with these patterns, to surprise the listeners and thus create new pieces and prevent boredom. Huron distinguishes several types of surprise, on the basis of a highly sophisticated evolutionary and cognitive psychology as well as an astounding knowledge of music. He knows everything from the complexities of Beethoven and Schoenberg to the joik songs of the Saami of arctic Europe, and even knows what happens when you play the latter to rural folk in southern Africa. By contrast, such earlier works as Robert Jourdain's MUSIC, THE BRAIN AND ECSTASY were greatly limited by confining their attention to western classical and classical-derived pop forms, thus missing everything from cross-rhythms to alternative scales. Surprise presupposes a whole file of knowledge of patterns and schemas, and a deep cognitive and emotional investment in same. Huron takes these mostly for granted. Obviously, the next step is to figure out why people love complicated musical patterns in the first place. Especially, humans love the theme-and-variation type of play with patterns that dominates music from Elizabethan lute solos to jazz to ragas. These are not exactly surprising, especially when you know the pieces, but they are always delightful. Why? Huron mentions body rhythms, speech rhythms, and the like. There is obviously more. I think there is much more about pattern--in music and in general--that we need to study.
30 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Music theory that includes the whole world!24 juin 2008
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Sweet Anticipation should be required reading for all composers and musicologists. The book plausibly explains how and why music affects human emotions, and it also contains numerous practical factoids that can be used to gauge one's own works against the spectrum of human musical perception. Huron uses statistical analysis and a deep knowledge of recent experimental progress in the psychology of musical perception to paint a picture that goes far beyond often banal music theory. His theories apply to all existing musical traditions, which to me is one of the most interesting aspects of the book, since most music theorists are pathetically myopic when it comes to assessing music as a universal human phenomenon.
This is certainly the best music theory book that I've read in many, many, years. It takes many things that performing musicians intuitively know to be true, and puts them into a more rigorous experimental context than musicians normally use. This being said, the book is probably not that accessible to anyone who does not yet have an undergrad level grasp of classical music theory - if you don't know what a ii-V-I progression is, or you can't see the shape of a melody by looking at an printed musical example, you probably won't get much out of it.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
A great book on the Physiology of the human capacity for Music30 mars 2009
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Why do some of us experience frissons when listening to music? Why is a deceptive cadence still "deceptive" after countless listenings? Why do bad feelings amplify subsequent positive emotions? Why understanding pleasure is important for understanding music?
This and many other interesting questions are addressed in David Huron's book. Central to his theory on how expectations determine emotions in music are our propensity for (imperfect) inductive statistical learning, the unconscious reactions of the fast-track brain and the following slower, contrastive appraisal responses. All integrated convincingly in an evolutionary perspective.
I like the statistical approach used throughout this book to explain important concepts such as expectation, surprise, anticipation, tonality, contra-tonality, syncopation. I liked the parallels drawn between when-related and what-related expectations - music contains "tendency notes" as well as "tendency moments", drumming fills as "embelished tendency tones". Statistical learning can go a long way towards explaining musical expectations (I am however less convinced that a statistical learning theory can ignore Gestalt-based features in its attempt to explain musical phenomena).
Really understanding music is a very hard task, and I agree that music analysis will be far from solving the task as long as the easy "naive realism" approach is preferred to "sophisticated realism". This book offers a good example of empirically founded sophisticated realism.
40 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Chapter titles and selected subtitles and descriptions of figures and tables10 février 2007
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I really like this book, but I don't think I'm qualified to review it. However, I think you can get a sense of whether you might be interested in it by reading the list of chapter titles and some of the subtitles and descriptions of some of the tables (T) and figures (F), so here's that:
Emotional Consequences of Expectations
T1.1 Response systems
F1.1 Schematic diagram of the time-course of the "ITPRA" theory of expectation.
F2.1 Schematic diagram of the brain mechanisms involved in the fear response.
Three Flavors of Surprise
3 Measuring Musical Expectation
F3.1 Average moment-to-moment uncertainty for Balinese and American musicians listen to an unfamiliar traditional Balinese melody.
4 Auditory Learning
F4.1 Average response times for musician listeners to hear an isolate tone as a specified scale degree.
F4.5 Sample exposure stimuli showing the long-term statistical probabilities of pitch-to-pitch transitions.
5 Statistical Properties of Music
F5.1 Frequency of occurrence of melodic intervals in notated sources for folk and popular melodies from ten cultures.
F5.2 Proportion of non-unison melodic intervals that ascend in pitch.
T5.1 Probabilities for step-step- movements in a large sample of Western and non-Western musics.
F5.3 Watt's (1924) analysis of intervals in Schubert Lieder. Larger intervals are more likely to be followed by a change of melodic direction than small intervals.
F5.5 Number of instances of various melodic leaps found in a cross-cultural sample of melodies.
F5.6 Average contour for 6,364 seven-note phrases taken from The Essen Folksong Collection (Schaffrath 1995).
6 Heuristic Listening
F6.1 "Brownian" or "random walk" melody.
F6.2 "Johnson" or "white noise" melody.
7 Mental Representation of Expectation (I)
F7.2 Information theoretic analysis of "Pop Goes the Weasel" showing changing of information (in bits) as the piece unfolds.
F7.4 A hypothetical mental network for pitch-related representation.
F7.5 Four objects illustrating the failure to code spatial interval.
8 Prediction Effect
The Role of Consciousness
T9.1 Scale Degree Qualia
F9.1 Distribution of scale tones for a large sample of melodies in major keys (>65,000 notes).
F9.2 Distribution of scale tones for a large sample of melodies in minor keys (>65,000 notes).
F9.7 Schematic illustration of scale-degree successions for major key-melodies
F9.9 Schematic illustration of the amount of flexibility or (conversely) tendency for different scale degrees in major-key contexts.
10 Expectation in Time
F10.2 Effect of temporal position on accuracy of pitch judgment.
Long-Range Contingent Expectations
The Pleasures of the Downbeat
Nonperiodic Temporal Expectations
F10.13 Graph representing the relative durations of three-note rhythmic patterns.
F10.14 Relative durations for two 3-note rhythms tapped by musicians.
F10.15 Categorical boundaries between various perceived three-note rhythms.
11 Genres, Schemas, and Firewalls
T11.1 Unprimed listener expectations
12 Mental Representation of Expectation (II)
F12.1 Recognition measurements for the openings of four melodies.
F12.2 Example of a chimeric melody where one melody elides into another.
13 Creating Predictability
F13.9 Schematic illustration of chord progressions in a sample of baroque music.
F13.11 Schematic illustration of chord progressions in a sample of seventy Western popular songs ...
Style and form
14 Creating Surprise
T14.1 Reported qualia for chromatic median chords in a major key context
T14.2 Reported qualia for chromatic median chords in a minor key context
T14.3a Metrical context for ascending melodic intervals
T14.3b Metrical context for descending melodic intervals
15 Creating Tension
The Feeling of Anticipation
F15.3 Prototypical suspension.
T15.1 Summary expectation analysis of a suspension
F15.4 Oddball event.
F15.5 Oddball event from figure 15.4 is transformed into an appoggiatura.
T15.2 Summary expectation analysis of an oddball note
T15.3 Summary expectation analysis of an appoggiatura
Sweet Anticipation --- The Role of Consciousness
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Finally A Sensible Book Exploring *Why* Music Is The Way It Is28 mars 2012
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I learned about this book from a reference in Matthew Hurley's excellent book "Inside Jokes" in which he tackles the age old question of "what is humor?" Unlike Hurley's, work most theories of humor, in my opinion, are more observations of humor and not really a theory of some active mechanism which explains *why* it exists. David Huron's Sweet Anticipation is a superb example of answering just this kind of hard question, in this case applied to the equally tricky topic of music. Many of the elements of Hurley's humor theory are foreshadowed in Huron's book including a pretty sophisticated foundation for a theory of humor. It may seem that the two topics are unrelated, but Huron shows that there are common themes in both humor and music. Not only does he use humor as an example of other phenomena with the operating characteristics of music, but he explicitly explores humor in music itself. It's not a common occurrence but the fact that a piece of music can make one laugh is indeed an interesting fact. Rather than ignoring these edge cases, Huron thinks that musical humor may be fundamental to the mechanisms of music in general. He goes so far as to claim that a good test (as good as anything) whether a listener "gets" a musical performance/style/genre is whether the listener finds extant musical jokes funny.
The reason humor and music are linked, according to Huron, is that they both involve expectation. Huron makes a case that predicting the future is valuable to evolving organisms and mechanisms arise to maximize the utility of predictions. In the case of humor the positive feedback of finding something funny is an incentive to correct faulty mental models as they're forming (Hurley recognizes this as important and develops it extensively into his book).
Huron makes many interesting points. For example, he offers good evidence that musical elements are not necessarily innate and that acculturation is required to truly understand unfamiliar music. He points out this is harder to do as adults. He talks about people with "perfect pitch" and uses credible research findings to expose the mechanisms at work and, happily for me personally, offer some reasons why such a talent may not always be optimal. He cites many interesting studies that relate studies of natural hearing physiology to musical phenomena. In fact, it's worth noting that this book is commendably scientific in its approach. Music seems like a subjective experience and I would guess this has afforded some latitude to music theorists of the past. Huron, however, really sticks to credible and corroborated research. Just reading about all the interesting studies that have been done in acoustics, audition, hearing, ethnomusicology, psychology, etc, was reason enough to read the book.
I have read many music theory books and have struggled as a novice musician to make sense out of what was going on. Sweet Anticipation has been the most cogent discussion I have yet encountered on *why* music is the way it is. For example, I have always wondered what a "key" was. Sure, a piece in the key of C uses the C major scale. Sort of. Pretty much. Usually. Unless it doesn't. To me a very precise non-circular definition was always hard to pin down. But Huron shows exactly what a key is, a statistically likely set of pitches. He goes on to calculate, enumerate, and plot these probabilities. That is very interesting to see. If you were going to program a computer to compose music, this book would be the first place to start. This does not mean that Huron is looking for a formulaic approach to composition. Indeed, he knows that "breaking the rules" is one of the hallmarks of great music precisely because you're not expecting the rules to be broken. Understanding music and the mechanisms that make it enjoyable do not, in my opinion, make music any less enjoyable. This is an excellent book and should be of particular interest to anyone who has a keen fascination with the power of music.