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The Science of Musical Preferences

Don't know if any of you have seen the article at http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20100521/hl_hsn/thesciencebehindmusicaltaste;_ylt=At0uoH4fqoPkmFdX7f5Mu1ms0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTQxZ2YxdHJoBGFzc2V0A2hzbi8yMDEwMDUyMS90aGVzY2llbmNlYmVoaW5kbXVzaWNhbHRhc3RlBGNjb2RlA21vc3Rwb3B1bGFyBGNwb3MDOQRwb3MDNgRwdANob21lX2Nva2UEc2VjA3luX2hlYWRsaW5lX2xpc3QEc2xrA3RoZXNjaWVuY2ViZQ--
but, I thought you might find it of interest. In part the article provides the following:

Musical chords that are the most appealing to American ears are ones where the sequence of notes played are harmonically related to one another.

A second study, out of Brazil and published in the May 20 issue of the New Journal of Physics, revealed that people are attracted to certain rhythm patterns, and tend to go for songs that display similar rhythmic durations and ordering, regardless of whether those songs come from what would normally be thought of as differing musical genres.

The American study examined the preferences of more than 250 college students, while manipulating the harmonics and frequency patterns of the music they heard.

They found that people, at least in the case of Western musical tastes, tend to like songs with frequencies harmonized by sharing fundamentally similar roots.

"It suggests that Westerners learn to like the sound of harmonic frequencies because of their importance in Western music," study author Josh McDermott, who was at the University of Minnesota when the research was conducted, said in a news release from the journal's publisher. He stressed, however, that people from different regions might lean towards preferring other kinds of harmonic qualities, noting that "intervals and chords that are dissonant by Western standards are fairly common in some cultures."

"Diversity is the rule, not the exception," he added.

The Brazilian researchers analyzed 100 songs for each of four musical genres -- rock, blues, bossa nova and reggae -- in search of the most representative rhythm sequences.

Once such sequences were identified, the authors found they were then able to classify all the songs by these distinctive rhythm patterns.

Such a rhythmic classification method, they suggested, gets more directly to the heart of how people truly hear songs -- and why they choose the ones they like -- than does the traditional technique of slotting songs into one category or another (for example, jazz or rock).

The Brazilian team now hopes to look at other musical features, such as the intensity of musical beats, to see how else they might improve the way songs are classified in terms of listener preferences.

Re: The Science of Musical Preferences

Thanks for this. I searched the lengthy "thesciencebehindmusicaltaste" and found a matching story in yahoo news.

At the bottom of that story was a link for more information (a book review) at http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=116 (the Dana Foundation). To my surprise, it turned out that the review is for a book in my (mammoth) library. The chances that I would have read it any time soon were not so good. Now, the book is near the top of the list. Very cool.

Re: The Science of Musical Preferences

Glad that you were able to get to the book. I am curious about the details of the rhythmic classification method and how closely other musical genres in the AM genre list can be correlated with the four rhythmic classifications mentioned in the article - rock, blues, bossa nova and reggae. My guess is that some of the AM genre's do not align closely with any of the four rhythmic classifications, and so perhaps additional rhythmic classifications will be needed to provide a comprehensive rhythmic classification scheme.