Sweet Anticipation

Music and the Psychology of Expectation

The psychological theory of expectation that David Huron proposes in Sweet Anticipation grew out of the author's experimental efforts to understand how music evokes emotions. These efforts evolved into a general theory of expectation that will prove informative to readers interested in cognitive science and evolutionary psychology as well as those interested in music. The book describes a set of psychological mechanisms and illustrates how these mechanisms work in the case of music. All examples of notated music can be heard on the Web.

Huron proposes that emotions evoked by expectation involve five functionally distinct response systems: reaction responses (which engage defensive reflexes); tension responses (where uncertainty leads to stress); prediction responses (which reward accurate prediction); imagination responses (which facilitate deferred gratification); and appraisal responses (which occur after conscious thought is engaged). For real-world events, these five response systems typically produce a complex mixture of feelings. The book identifies some of the aesthetic possibilities afforded by expectation, and shows how common musical devices (such as syncopation, cadence, meter, tonality, and climax) exploit the psychological opportunities. The theory also provides new insights into the physiological psychology of awe, laughter, and spine-tingling chills. Huron traces the psychology of expectations from the patterns of the physical/cultural world through imperfectly learned heuristics used to predict that world to the phenomenal qualia we experienced as we apprehend the world.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. 1. Introduction
  4. 2. Surprise
  5. 3. Measuring Musical Expectation
  6. 4. Auditory Learning
  7. 5. Statistical Properties of Music
  8. 6. Heuristic Listening
  9. 7. Mental Representation of Expection (I)
  10. 8. Prediction Effect
  11. 9. Tonality
  12. 10. Expectation in Time
  13. 11. Genres, Schemas, and Firewalls
  14. 12. Mental Representation of Expectation (II)
  15. 13. Creating Predictability
  16. 14. Creating Surprise
  17. 15. Creating Tension
  18. 16. Expecting the Unexpected
  19. 17. A Sense of Future
  20. Notes
  21. Glossary
  22. References
  23. Index