Surprise and listening ahead: Analytic engagements with musical tendencies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Roughly fifty years ago, Leonard Meyer made the intuitively appealing proposal that music engages the listener by generating expectations that can be fulfilled or avoided for aesthetic effect. Yet in the intellectual climate then prevalent, the mind was conceptualized as a black box. Given the changes in intellectual milieu over the past half century, including significant ventures into the mental black box not only in cognitive science but also in music theory, now seems a particularly suitable time for picking up some of the strands of Meyer's visionary theory of tendency and suggestion in music. This paper aims to extend some of the hints he offers on the mental phenomenon of expectation and to develop them into explicit tools amenable to use in analysis. This endeavor starts with a general categorization of the experiential correlates of musical tendency into types of listening ahead and types of surprise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-217
Number of pages21
JournalMusic Theory Spectrum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Music


  • Analysis
  • Cognition
  • Expectation
  • Listening
  • Perception
  • Surprise


Dive into the research topics of 'Surprise and listening ahead: Analytic engagements with musical tendencies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this