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Global Sensory Qualities and Aesthetic Experience in Music

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A well-known tradition in the study of visual aesthetics holds that the experience of visual beauty is grounded in global computational or statistical properties of the stimulus, for example, scale-invariant Fourier spectrum or self-similarity. Some approaches rely on neural mechanisms, such as efficient computation, processing fluency, or the responsiveness of the cells in the primary visual cortex. These proposals are united by the fact that the contributing factors are hypothesized to be global (i.e., they concern the percept as a whole), formal or non-conceptual (i.e., they concern form instead of content), computational and/or statistical, and based on relatively low-level sensory properties. Here we consider that the study of aesthetic responses to music could benefit from the same approach. Thus, along with local features such as pitch, tuning, consonance/dissonance, harmony, timbre, or beat, also global sonic properties could be viewed as contributing toward creating an aesthetic musical experience. Several such properties are discussed and their neural implementation is reviewed in the light of recent advances in neuroaesthetics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number159
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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