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Seminar in Music Theory & Cognition (450-0-1)


Musical Expectation


Danuta Mirka

Meeting Info

RCMA 1-164: Wed 2:00PM - 4:50PM

Overview of class

Expectation is an aspect of listening experience that has attracted lots of attention from music theorists since the second half of the twentieth century. After the pioneering work of Leonard B. Meyer and his students, Eugene Narmour and Robert O. Gjerdingen, further research of musical expectation was undertaken by scholars working in the field of cognitive study of music, generating an ever-growing number of influential publications. In this seminar we will reconstruct this stream of research from its dawn until today and try to assess its prospects. To this end, we will retrace the questions that have been asked by earlier authors and appraise the answers that have been given. The questions will include: What is expectation? How does it arise? How does it inform musical meaning and emotion? What musical parameters does it concern? Is it determined by structure of these parameters? Or is it a matter of statistics? What types of knowledge does it engage? How does it relate to consciousness and memory?

Learning Objectives

By the end of the class you will gain understanding of mechanisms involved in musical expectation, appreciate the role of expectation in listening experience and become familiar with analytical methods that allow us to trace expectations generated by different musical parameters.

Class Materials (Required)

No textbooks required.