Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation
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Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  70 ratings  ·  7 reviews
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. Th...more
Paperback, 462 pages
Published March 1st 2008 by MIT Press (MA) (first published 2006)
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Arnie Cox
Excellent balance of empirical data and philosophical considerations. (I don't happen to resonate with the title and the dust jacket, but this is a good example of a book not to be judged by its cover.) Empirically-based writing seldom reaches very far into larger questions of musical meaning, while at the same time philosophically-oriented writing seldom troubles itself with empirical data. This is the best combination of the two that I have read, balancing at about 2/3 empirical and 1/3 philos...more
Huron is a musicologist at Ohio State, and also heads the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory at that school. This book draws heavily on the work he has done there. In it, Huron explores how music works from a cognitive perspective, focusing on how the mechanisms of expectation affect how we experience music. Despite being rather technical, Sweet Anticipation is a fascinating read. It encompasses both psychology and music theory, explaining the biological and cognitive workings of exp...more
i've been reading this book for almost 3 months, and although i hit some rough/annoying spots, in the end it was all worth it.

david huron generally asks the questions: how does music work? and how do minds hear music working? he has done everything from statistical frequency analysis of certain pitches in music (relating this to the pitch or interval qualia we assign to it) to studying the relationship between composer's goals and our interpretations of those goals (e.g. the observation that Sch...more
This book is for the serious student of psycho-acoustics. While accessibly written, the reader must be willing to plunge headlong into a lot of technical vocabulary to wade through what the book has to offer. Huron's goals are large and complex: he wants to understand the mechanisms of human consciousness that make us enjoy listening to music. He considers many of the key aspects of Western music (rhythms, cadence, textures, etc.) as key aspects of this process. The short answer here is that we...more
Stefanie Lubkowski
This psychological study of how expectations are created and experienced in music held amazing insights into the field of music analysis, and something too for musical creation. It's definitely not meant to be a tool box for composers, as it looks looks only at what currently exists in music. But there are some great statistical studies on the common properties of Western music, as well as fascinating experiments with listeners.
Work-related reading. Definitely provocative and well-thought out. Although I wonder if everything we do, all our emotions and anticipations about the future, really come down to statistics. It kind of takes the magic out to know that we are responding in a certain way just because 99% of the time a particular feature is followed by a particular other feature.
While there are a lot of studies with lots of statistics, the rest of it is very readable and interesting. I particularly enjoyed his insight into musical surprise and what about music that can make people laugh.
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