Computational-model-based analysis of context effects on harmonic expectancy

Satoshi Morimoto, Gerard B. Remijn, Yoshitaka Nakajima

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Expectancy for an upcoming musical chord, harmonic expectancy, is supposedly based on automatic activation of tonal knowledge. Since previous studies implicitly relied on interpretations based on Western music theory, the underlying computational processes involved in harmonic expectancy and how it relates to tonality need further clarification. In particular, short chord sequences which cannot lead to unique keys are difficult to interpret in music theory. In this study, we examined effects of preceding chords on harmonic expectancy from a computational perspective, using stochastic modeling. We conducted a behavioral experiment, in which participants listened to short chord sequences and evaluated the subjective relatedness of the last chord to the preceding ones. Based on these judgments, we built stochastic models of the computational process underlying harmonic expectancy. Following this, we compared the explanatory power of the models. Our results imply that, even when listening to short chord sequences, internally constructed and updated tonal assumptions determine the expectancy of the upcoming chord.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0151374
    JournalPloS one
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
    • General


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