CDN$ 34.45
  • List Price: CDN$ 34.94
  • You Save: CDN$ 0.49 (1%)
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Sweet Anticipation: Music... has been added to your Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation Paperback – Jan 25 2008

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
CDN$ 34.45
CDN$ 24.67 CDN$ 31.46

Unlimited FREE Two-Day Shipping for Six Months When You Try Amazon Student

No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book (Jan. 25 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262582783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262582780
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 748 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #129,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Product Description


A richly detailed theory of how and why the audience has particular expectations and emotions.... A fascinating journey into the inner workings of music and how it tickles the human mind.

(Petr Janata Nature)

Sweet Anticipation... in its range, rigour and insights constitutes an astonishing achievement. Although it announces itself as a book about expectation in music, it goes well beyond what that might imply and is more like a broad and encompassing theory of music perception and cognition, with expectation as the central concept.

(Prof. Eric Clarke Music Analysis)

Having worked on the question of musical expectancy for a number of years myself reading David Huron's recent book has been, for me, a real treat. My interest in this topic does, however, make me a harsh critic of work on this topic. It is within such a context, then, that I praise this book. Quite simply, Sweet Anticipation is excellent.

(Prof. Mark Schmuckler Philosophical Psychology)

David Huron's superb book Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation ... is an exceptional contribution to the field of music cognition and represents a clear advance in our understanding of the role of expectancy in musical experience. As a cognitive psychologist, I find Huron's proposals for expectancy mechanisms and their possible evolutionary origin convincing and novel. Indeed, throughout the book musical issues are connected with human psychology in a way that reflects a deep and nuanced understanding of both disciplines.... On the whole, Huron provides an extraordinarily rich analysis of the phenomenon of musical expectation and provides a persuasive account of its psychological sources. Sweet Anticipation is without question one of the most exciting pieces of scholarship to emerge in the past decade, and should be read by anyone with a serious interest in the psychology of music.

(Prof. William Thompson Empirical Musicology Review)

Sweet Anticipation is a brilliant work that will continue to inspire for many years to come.

(Dr. Adam Ockelford Psychology of Music)

Huron's ability to show the link between the biologically driven need to acquire knowledge for survival and the phenomenology of 'hypermetric anticipation', 'tonal syncopation', and other such specific, highly technical musical procedures is one of the book's greatest triumphs.

(Prof. Giorgio Biancorosso Music & Letters)

This is a remarkable publication that reflects a keen vision. It casts the meaning of music within a broad, scientific scenario.

(Dr. Rita Aiello Empirical Musicology Review)

One of the strengths of Sweet Anticipation is that it is an ambitious work that offers a Big Theory. Huron draws together insights from disparate fields such as music theory, evolutionary theory, neurobiology, and cognitive science into a theory that is coherent, parsimonious, and powerful.

(Drs. Catherine Stevens & Tim Byron Music Perception)

By persuasively putting forward a general theory of expectation by way of music, Huron's book will not only draw the attention of specialists in other fields to the work done by music theorists but also establish a benchmark for the future role of music in psychological research. For his theory implicitly demonstrates the significance of music not merely as a heuristic tool but also as a fundamental and highly symptomatic aspect of mental life.

(Prof. Giorgio Biancorosso Music & Letters)

This really is a very significant book on our responses to, and understanding of, music -- and one that has a disarming ability to simplify previously tangled debates without becoming simplistic.... Anyone interested in understanding the extraordinary range and dynamic character of listeners' responses to music will find a huge amount here to think about, some very entertaining anecdotes and examples, and inspiring model of how to tackle a complex subject with care, rigour, great scholarship and an awareness of the power of simplicity.

(Prof. Eric Clarke Music Analysis)

Sweet Anticipation should be required reading for all composers and musicologists.... This is certainly the best music theory book that I've read in many, many, years.... Highly recommended!

(David Stutz

Apart from anything else, David Huron's book provides a wealth of fascinating insights amassed throughout 20 years of research in the field.

(Marcus Pearce & Daniel Müllensiefen Musicae Scientiae)

Huron writes with humour and humanity.

(Dr. Adam Ockelford Psychology of Music)

I can't put the book down! A must read for anyone who has read Meyer, Narmour, or Lerdahl. An exploration of human expectation as exemplified through a rigorous and systematic understanding of music cognition.

(Dr. David Spondike

Sweet Anticipation demands careful attention from music scholars who still believe that experimental psychology is too primitive to speak to their concerns. In unpacking the process of expectation, long understood to play a crucial role in our emotional response to music, David Huron makes a powerful case for a musicology that is empirically informed and statistically based. Even those who question whether musical cognition is as strongly determined as he suggests will be challenged by his questioning of basic theoretical assumptions and won over by his continual emphasis on pleasure as a goal, perhaps the goal, of musical experience.

(William Benjamin, Professor of Music, University of British Columbia)

The quintessence of the French mind -- precision, concision, elegance -- as it should be, Pascal rather than Derrida. Everyone who knows William Thomson knows that he is not only a great economist but also a master expositor, be it in his papers and books or in his talks. In this book, he shares his remarkable know-how with us young and not-so-young economists.

(Maurice Salles, Professor of Economics, Université de Caen, and Coordinating Editor, Social Choice and Welfare)

David Huron draws on evolutionary theory and statistical learning to situate the particular issue of musical expectation within the study of human expectation in general. The result is a widely knowledgeable and engagingly written book that will serve as a landmark in the cognitive science of music.

(Fred Lerdahl, Fritz Reiner Professor of Music, Columbia University)

About the Author

David Huron is Professor of Music and Head of the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory in the School of Music at Ohio State University and is affiliated with OSU's Center for Cognitive Science.

Inside This Book

(Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The shipping was quick and the read, from what I heard from my boyfriend, is interesting and informative. Really helps one explore a different facet of music.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Report abuse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa155678c) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa13b9c78) out of 5 stars Music and Surprise Sept. 19 2007
By E. N. Anderson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Finally, a real five-star book about music. For some reason, there are thousands of books about language, but almost no serious ones analyzing the biology and psychology of humanity's other communication systesms. Every society has a highly developed musical tradition, every society uses music in countless ways including the most sacred religious ceremonies, and yet hardly anyone has stepped forward to analyze it as a basic communication channel for humans.
David Huron's book is on surprise in music. He shows how music creates expectations of pattern, from simple rhythm up to very complex patterns (the concerto, the symphony...) that only sophisticated listeners know. Musicians notoriously love to play with these patterns, to surprise the listeners and thus create new pieces and prevent boredom. Huron distinguishes several types of surprise, on the basis of a highly sophisticated evolutionary and cognitive psychology as well as an astounding knowledge of music. He knows everything from the complexities of Beethoven and Schoenberg to the joik songs of the Saami of arctic Europe, and even knows what happens when you play the latter to rural folk in southern Africa. By contrast, such earlier works as Robert Jourdain's MUSIC, THE BRAIN AND ECSTASY were greatly limited by confining their attention to western classical and classical-derived pop forms, thus missing everything from cross-rhythms to alternative scales.
Surprise presupposes a whole file of knowledge of patterns and schemas, and a deep cognitive and emotional investment in same. Huron takes these mostly for granted. Obviously, the next step is to figure out why people love complicated musical patterns in the first place. Especially, humans love the theme-and-variation type of play with patterns that dominates music from Elizabethan lute solos to jazz to ragas. These are not exactly surprising, especially when you know the pieces, but they are always delightful. Why? Huron mentions body rhythms, speech rhythms, and the like. There is obviously more. I think there is much more about pattern--in music and in general--that we need to study.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa12dcf00) out of 5 stars Music theory that includes the whole world! June 24 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Sweet Anticipation should be required reading for all composers and musicologists. The book plausibly explains how and why music affects human emotions, and it also contains numerous practical factoids that can be used to gauge one's own works against the spectrum of human musical perception. Huron uses statistical analysis and a deep knowledge of recent experimental progress in the psychology of musical perception to paint a picture that goes far beyond often banal music theory. His theories apply to all existing musical traditions, which to me is one of the most interesting aspects of the book, since most music theorists are pathetically myopic when it comes to assessing music as a universal human phenomenon.

This is certainly the best music theory book that I've read in many, many, years. It takes many things that performing musicians intuitively know to be true, and puts them into a more rigorous experimental context than musicians normally use. This being said, the book is probably not that accessible to anyone who does not yet have an undergrad level grasp of classical music theory - if you don't know what a ii-V-I progression is, or you can't see the shape of a melody by looking at an printed musical example, you probably won't get much out of it.

Highly recommended!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa12e2654) out of 5 stars A great book on the Physiology of the human capacity for Music March 30 2009
By Razvan Bunescu - Published on
Format: Paperback
Why do some of us experience frissons when listening to music? Why is a deceptive cadence still "deceptive" after countless listenings? Why do bad feelings amplify subsequent positive emotions? Why understanding pleasure is important for understanding music?

This and many other interesting questions are addressed in David Huron's book. Central to his theory on how expectations determine emotions in music are our propensity for (imperfect) inductive statistical learning, the unconscious reactions of the fast-track brain and the following slower, contrastive appraisal responses. All integrated convincingly in an evolutionary perspective.

I like the statistical approach used throughout this book to explain important concepts such as expectation, surprise, anticipation, tonality, contra-tonality, syncopation. I liked the parallels drawn between when-related and what-related expectations - music contains "tendency notes" as well as "tendency moments", drumming fills as "embelished tendency tones". Statistical learning can go a long way towards explaining musical expectations (I am however less convinced that a statistical learning theory can ignore Gestalt-based features in its attempt to explain musical phenomena).

Really understanding music is a very hard task, and I agree that music analysis will be far from solving the task as long as the easy "naive realism" approach is preferred to "sophisticated realism". This book offers a good example of empirically founded sophisticated realism.
40 of 53 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa13bf09c) out of 5 stars Chapter titles and selected subtitles and descriptions of figures and tables Feb. 10 2007
By Stephen Malinowski - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really like this book, but I don't think I'm qualified to review it. However, I think you can get a sense of whether you might be interested in it by reading the list of chapter titles and some of the subtitles and descriptions of some of the tables (T) and figures (F), so here's that:

1 Introduction

Emotional Consequences of Expectations

Tension Response

Imagination Response

Prediction Response

Reaction Response

Appraisal Response

T1.1 Response systems

F1.1 Schematic diagram of the time-course of the "ITPRA" theory of expectation.

2 Surprise

F2.1 Schematic diagram of the brain mechanisms involved in the fear response.

Contrastive Valence

Three Flavors of Surprise

3 Measuring Musical Expectation

F3.1 Average moment-to-moment uncertainty for Balinese and American musicians listen to an unfamiliar traditional Balinese melody.

4 Auditory Learning

F4.1 Average response times for musician listeners to hear an isolate tone as a specified scale degree.

F4.5 Sample exposure stimuli showing the long-term statistical probabilities of pitch-to-pitch transitions.

5 Statistical Properties of Music

F5.1 Frequency of occurrence of melodic intervals in notated sources for folk and popular melodies from ten cultures.

F5.2 Proportion of non-unison melodic intervals that ascend in pitch.

T5.1 Probabilities for step-step- movements in a large sample of Western and non-Western musics.

F5.3 Watt's (1924) analysis of intervals in Schubert Lieder. Larger intervals are more likely to be followed by a change of melodic direction than small intervals.

F5.5 Number of instances of various melodic leaps found in a cross-cultural sample of melodies.

F5.6 Average contour for 6,364 seven-note phrases taken from The Essen Folksong Collection (Schaffrath 1995).

6 Heuristic Listening

F6.1 "Brownian" or "random walk" melody.

F6.2 "Johnson" or "white noise" melody.

7 Mental Representation of Expectation (I)

F7.2 Information theoretic analysis of "Pop Goes the Weasel" showing changing of information (in bits) as the piece unfolds.

F7.4 A hypothetical mental network for pitch-related representation.

F7.5 Four objects illustrating the failure to code spatial interval.

8 Prediction Effect

Exposure Effect

The Role of Consciousness

9 Tonality

T9.1 Scale Degree Qualia

F9.1 Distribution of scale tones for a large sample of melodies in major keys (>65,000 notes).

F9.2 Distribution of scale tones for a large sample of melodies in minor keys (>65,000 notes).

T9.2 First-order scale-degree probabilities (diatonic continuations)

T9.3 First-order scale-degree probabilities (chromatic continuations)

F9.7 Schematic illustration of scale-degree successions for major key-melodies

F9.9 Schematic illustration of the amount of flexibility or (conversely) tendency for different scale degrees in major-key contexts.

10 Expectation in Time

F10.2 Effect of temporal position on accuracy of pitch judgment.

Long-Range Contingent Expectations

The Pleasures of the Downbeat

Nonperiodic Temporal Expectations

F10.13 Graph representing the relative durations of three-note rhythmic patterns.

F10.14 Relative durations for two 3-note rhythms tapped by musicians.

F10.15 Categorical boundaries between various perceived three-note rhythms.

11 Genres, Schemas, and Firewalls

Context Cueing


Starting Schema

T11.1 Unprimed listener expectations

Schema Switching

12 Mental Representation of Expectation (II)

Episodic Memory

F12.1 Recognition measurements for the openings of four melodies.

Dynamic Expectations

F12.2 Example of a chimeric melody where one melody elides into another.

Conscious Expectations

13 Creating Predictability

Veridical Familiarity

Schematic Predictability

The Anticipation

Hypermetric Anticipation

F13.9 Schematic illustration of chord progressions in a sample of baroque music.

F13.11 Schematic illustration of chord progressions in a sample of seventy Western popular songs ...

Style and form

Dynamic Predictability

14 Creating Surprise

T14.1 Reported qualia for chromatic median chords in a major key context

T14.2 Reported qualia for chromatic median chords in a minor key context

T14.3a Metrical context for ascending melodic intervals

T14.3b Metrical context for descending melodic intervals

15 Creating Tension

The Feeling of Anticipation

The Suspension

F15.3 Prototypical suspension.

T15.1 Summary expectation analysis of a suspension

F15.4 Oddball event.

F15.5 Oddball event from figure 15.4 is transformed into an appoggiatura.

T15.2 Summary expectation analysis of an oddball note

T15.3 Summary expectation analysis of an appoggiatura



Sweet Anticipation --- The Role of Consciousness
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa12dcf9c) out of 5 stars Finally A Sensible Book Exploring *Why* Music Is The Way It Is March 27 2012
By Chris Edwards - Published on
Format: Paperback
I learned about this book from a reference in Matthew Hurley's excellent book "Inside Jokes" in which he tackles the age old question of "what is humor?" Unlike Hurley's, work most theories of humor, in my opinion, are more observations of humor and not really a theory of some active mechanism which explains *why* it exists. David Huron's Sweet Anticipation is a superb example of answering just this kind of hard question, in this case applied to the equally tricky topic of music. Many of the elements of Hurley's humor theory are foreshadowed in Huron's book including a pretty sophisticated foundation for a theory of humor. It may seem that the two topics are unrelated, but Huron shows that there are common themes in both humor and music. Not only does he use humor as an example of other phenomena with the operating characteristics of music, but he explicitly explores humor in music itself. It's not a common occurrence but the fact that a piece of music can make one laugh is indeed an interesting fact. Rather than ignoring these edge cases, Huron thinks that musical humor may be fundamental to the mechanisms of music in general. He goes so far as to claim that a good test (as good as anything) whether a listener "gets" a musical performance/style/genre is whether the listener finds extant musical jokes funny.

The reason humor and music are linked, according to Huron, is that they both involve expectation. Huron makes a case that predicting the future is valuable to evolving organisms and mechanisms arise to maximize the utility of predictions. In the case of humor the positive feedback of finding something funny is an incentive to correct faulty mental models as they're forming (Hurley recognizes this as important and develops it extensively into his book).

Huron makes many interesting points. For example, he offers good evidence that musical elements are not necessarily innate and that acculturation is required to truly understand unfamiliar music. He points out this is harder to do as adults. He talks about people with "perfect pitch" and uses credible research findings to expose the mechanisms at work and, happily for me personally, offer some reasons why such a talent may not always be optimal. He cites many interesting studies that relate studies of natural hearing physiology to musical phenomena. In fact, it's worth noting that this book is commendably scientific in its approach. Music seems like a subjective experience and I would guess this has afforded some latitude to music theorists of the past. Huron, however, really sticks to credible and corroborated research. Just reading about all the interesting studies that have been done in acoustics, audition, hearing, ethnomusicology, psychology, etc, was reason enough to read the book.

I have read many music theory books and have struggled as a novice musician to make sense out of what was going on. Sweet Anticipation has been the most cogent discussion I have yet encountered on *why* music is the way it is. For example, I have always wondered what a "key" was. Sure, a piece in the key of C uses the C major scale. Sort of. Pretty much. Usually. Unless it doesn't. To me a very precise non-circular definition was always hard to pin down. But Huron shows exactly what a key is, a statistically likely set of pitches. He goes on to calculate, enumerate, and plot these probabilities. That is very interesting to see. If you were going to program a computer to compose music, this book would be the first place to start. This does not mean that Huron is looking for a formulaic approach to composition. Indeed, he knows that "breaking the rules" is one of the hallmarks of great music precisely because you're not expecting the rules to be broken. Understanding music and the mechanisms that make it enjoyable do not, in my opinion, make music any less enjoyable. This is an excellent book and should be of particular interest to anyone who has a keen fascination with the power of music.