As a musician, I am acutely aware of melody. I am always listening for good melodies, and with my musical experience, I can often predict where the melody is going to go before it goes there. Good composers use this human tendency to hear where the melody should go to lull you into a sense of melody, and then add in twists that you are not expecting, which makes the melody more interesting. Combining the expected with the unexpected, the tonic with the dissonant surprises your mind and keeps you actively listening.
The premise of how humans do this was the topic of a new paper published in NeuroImage. “Have you ever accidentally pulled your headphone socket out while listening to music? What happens when the music stops? Psychologists believe that our brains continuously predict what is going to happen next in a piece of music. So, when the music stops, your brain may still have expectations about what should happen next.”
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