Leonard Meyer's Emotion and Meaning in Music is perhaps the first major treatise on music, written by a Western music theorist, which relies heavily on psychological insights and psychologically-based arguments in describing music. In the Preface, Meyer explicitly acknowledges his debt to Koffka (one of the main proponents of Gestalt psychology).
At the same time, Meyer remains grounded in the Western music theoretical tradition. He is attracted to formalist and abstract principles and acknowledges a debt to Susanne Langer (the formalist aesthetic philosopher).
Meyer characterizes his work as one dealing with the problem of musical meaning and the manner of musical communication.
Meyer begins by defining and contrasting classic positions in philosophical aesthetics. He outlines two contrasting dichotomies: the absolutist versus referentialist views, and the formalist versus expressionist views:
ABSOLUTIST: "musical meaning lies exclusively within the context of the work itself."
REFERENTIALIST: "musical meanings refer to the extramusical world of concepts, actions, emotional states, and character."
In his book, Meyer will lay out a compromise position that acknowledges the existence of both types of musical meanings.
FORMALIST: "the meaning of music lies in the perception and understanding of the musical relationships set forth in the work of art and that meaning in music is primarily intellectual"
EXPRESSIONIST: "the expressionist would argue that these same relationships are in some sense capable of exciting feelings and emotions in the listener"
Again, Meyer will propose a compromise position that claims both "intellectual" and "emotional" meanings.
As we will see, Meyer himself has leanings toward the absolute expressionist perspective. That is, Meyer regards referential meanings to be somewhat secondary, and his emphasis on emotion implies a more expressionist than formalist view.
For example, Meyer claims that music "operates as a closed system, that is, it employs no signs or symbols referring to the non-musical world of objects, concepts, and human desires." [p.vii].
Meyer may believe that referentialist meanings are more important than implied by his book, since he explicitly indicates that the purpose of his study is to focus on "those meanings which lie within the closed context of the musical work itself." (pp.1-2). Meyer thinks that there is a wealth of sources of possible musical meanings. However, he restricts his study to "those meanings which lie within the closed context of the musical work itself." [pp.1-2]. That is, he thinks that the most important musical meanings do not refer to extramusical concepts. Meyer quickly adds that "it is necessary to emphasize that the prominence given to this aspect of musical meaning does not imply that other kinds of meaning do not exist or are not important."
What is distinctive about Meyer's position is that he thinks that the relationships evident in the work itself can account for feelings and emotions in the listener. Meyer is not explicitly an anti-referentialist. In fact, he claims that "absolute meanings and referential meanings are not mutually exclusive" [p.2]
Meyer is at pains to note that the expressionist position should not be confused with the referentialist position.[p.3] Indeed, Meyer is going to make an essentially expressionist argument, without wanting to imply that the emotions arise (soley) due to extramusical references.
With regard to the formalist/expressionist debate, Meyer speaks of the "groundlessness of the traditional dichotomy between emotions and intellect."(p.70). He will carve-out a position concerning the expressive aspects of music that, in modern terminology, we would term "cognitive." This means that the world of ideas and emotion are intimately linked for Meyer.
On page 2, Meyer notes that both the formalist and expressionist "may see the meaning of music as being essentially intramusical (non-referential)
"The present study is concerned with an examination and analysis of those aspects of meaning which result from the understanding of and response to relationships inherent in the musical progress rather than with any relationships between the musical organization and the extramusical world of concepts, actions, characters, and situations. The position adopted admits both formalist and absolute expressionist viewpoints. For though the referential expressionists and the formalists are concerned with genuinely different aspects of musical experience, the absolute expressionists and the formalists are actually considering the same musical processes and similar human [p.3; continuing p.4] experiences from different, but not incompatible, viewpoints (see p.39). [pp.3-4]
"Broadly speaking, then, the present investigation seeks to present an analysis of musical meaning and experience in which both the expressionist and the formalist positions will be accounted for and in which the relationship between them will become clear.
"Past accounts given by the proponents of each of these positions have suffered from certain important weaknesses. The chief difficulty of those who have adopted the absolutist expressionist position is that they have been unable to account for the processes by which perceived sound patterns become experienced as feelings and emotions." [p.4]
Although Meyer is influenced by psychology, he identifies three "errors" he believes have plagued music psychology: hedonism, atomism, and universalism:
Hedonism is the confusion of aesthetic experience with the sensuously pleasing -- that is, the idea that musical beauty simply comes down to "liking". "[A] Beethoven symphony," says Meyer, "is not a kind of musical banana split, a matter of purely sensuous enjoyment."
Atomism is the tendency to try to explain music by reducing it to "a succession of separable, discrete sounds and sound complexes."
Universalism is the error of regarding music organization as "good for all times and all places". "Western music is not universal, natural, or God-given." (p.6) but a product of learning and experience.
Meyer then goes on to discuss evidence as to the nature and existence of the emotional response to music:
Meyer distinguishes between emotion (which is "temporary and evanescent") and mood (which is "relatively permanent and stable"). He notes that "most of the supposed studies of emotion in music are actually concerned with mood and association." (p.7) Without discounting the role of mood, Meyer's goal is to focus on emotion.
"Motives of grief or joy, anger or despair, found in the works of baroque composers or the affective and moral qualities attributed to special modes or ragas in Arabian or Indian music are examples of such conventional denotative signs. And it may well be that when a listener reports that he felt this or that emotion, he is describing the emotion which he believes the passage is supposed to indicate, not anything which he himself has experienced." [p.8]
"Finally, even where the report given is of a genuine emotional experience, it is liable to become garbled and perverted in the process of verbalization. For emotional states are much more subtle and varied than are the few crude and standardized words which we use to denote them. ... studies made by Vernon Lee, C.S. Myers, Max Schoen, and others contain a large amount of what psychiatrists call "distortion"." [p.8]
"The listener brings to the act of perception definite beliefs in the affective power of music. Even before the first sound is heard, these beliefs activate dispositions to respond in an emotional way." [p.11]
"In the light of present knowledge it seem clear that though physiological adjustments are probably necessary adjuncts of affective responses they cannot be shown to be sufficient causes for such responses and have, in fact, been able to throw very little light upon the relationship between affective responses and the stimuli which produce." [p.12]
Meyer takes pains to note that the emotions elicited by a simulus will change from person to person, and from time to time within a single individual. "The difference," says Meyer, " "lies in the relationship between the stimulus and the responding individual." (p.13)
Meyer's view is very similar to the cognitivist perspective of emotions. In the first instance, the emotion felt depends on an appraisal of the situation. Meyer uses the example of a person falling:
"The sensation of falling through space, unconditioned by any belief or knowledge as to the ultimate outcome, will, for instance, arouse highly unpleasant emotions. Yet a similar fall experienced as a parachute jump in an amusement park may, because of our belief in the presence of control and in the nature of the resolution, prove most pleasing." [p.20]
As background to such contextual appraisals, Meyer notes that social circumstances and general beliefs can both alternately facilitate or suppress emotional responses.
Meyer goes further to claim that emotions themselves are neither pleasant nor unpleasant. Rather the pleasantness or unpleasantness of an emotion is dependent on cognitive appraisal.
"there are no pleasant or unpleasant emotions. There are only pleasant or unpleasant emotional experiences." (p.19)
Anticipating mainstream cognitivist arguments, Meyer views emotions as "essentially undifferentiated" (p.18). While sound stimuli may cause general physiological changes ("arousal"), these changes must be interpreted cognitively in order for a specific emotion to emerge.
Meyer thinks the existence of undifferentiated feelings is essential to his argument since it provides a way to explain non-referential emotions:
"The foregoing analysis is of genuine importance in the present study because it explains and accounts for the existence and nature of the intangible, non-referential affective states experienced in response to music. For in so far as the stimulus situation, the music, is non-referential (in the sense that it pictures, describes, or symbolizes none of the actions, persons, passions, and concepts ordinarily associated with human experience) ..." (p.20)
Rather than appeal to undifferentiated emotions, Meyer might alternatively appeal to the idea of unique aesthetic emotions. However, Meyer tells us that he doesn't believe unique aesthetic emotions exist (p.20) and so he can't appeal to some general aesthetic affect. Once again, undifferentiated emotions prove a way for Meyer to account for non-referential emotions.
The central premise of Meyer's view is that "[e]motion or affect is aroused when a tendency to respond is arrested or inhibited." (p.14) He cites Dewey and MacCurdy to support his view that inhibited behavior leads to more intense emotion.
Law of Affect: "... the law of affect, which states that emotion is evoked when a tendency to respond is inhibited ..." [p.22]
Central to Meyer's theory, it appears, is the view that emotions are learned, undifferentiated, communicative, and physiologically unspecified.
"Furthermore, it should be noted that uncertainty and lack of clarity may be products not only of conflicting tendencies but also of a situation which itself is structurally confused and ambiguous. This is of capital importance because it indicates that a situation which is structurally weak and doubtful in organization may directly create tendencies toward clarification. Delay in such a generalized tendency toward clarification may also give rise to affect." [p.16]
"The whole problem of whether undifferentiated feelings, affects per se, exist, ... is of importance in the present study" [p.17]
"Were the evidence to show that each affect or type of affect had its own peculiar physiological composition, then obviously undifferentiated feeling would be out of the question. However, Woodworth's summary of the work in this field makes it clear that this is not the case.*" [cites Woodworth, 1928] [p.17]
"Much emotional behavior, though habitual and hence seemingly automatic and natural, is actually learned. Because this aspect of behavior serves in the main as a means of communication" [p.17]
"Although emotional behavior is frequently characterless and diffuse, often it is differentiated and intelligible. [p.20]
"Designative behavior is differentiated largely by custom and tradition. It varies from culture to culture and among different groups within a single culture. this does not mean that there are no features of such behavior which are natural and widespread. In all probability these are. However, three points should be kep in mind: (1) There is no real evidence to show that there is only one single natural mode of behavior relevant to a given stimulus situation. when alternative modes of behavior are possible, cultural selection probably determines the composition of any particular pattern of affective designation." [p.21]
Meyer's principal concern is with how listeners experience the unfolding of successive events, especially the possibilities afforded by uncertainty.
Uncertainty can be regarded as a type of "ignorance" which brings about feelings of "impotence" which, in turn, leads to "apprehension and anxiety" (p.27).
The listener does not come to the listening experience as a blank slate. The listener already has existing musically-pertinent knowledge. Styles provide norms against which music is experienced. Emotion is evoked when events deviate from stylistic norms:
"the customary or expected progression of sounds can be considered as a norm, which from a stylistic point of view it is; and alteration in the expected progression can be considered a deviation. Hence deviations can be regarded as emotional or affective stimuli. (p.32)
Listeners are typically familiar with several stylistic norms, and may experience a passage differently depending on the norm applied:
"the same physical stimulus may call forth different tendencies in different stylistic contexts ... For example, a modal cadential progression will arouse one set of expectations in the musical style of the sixteenth century and quite another in the style of the nineteenth century." (p.30)
Departures from the unexpected can be experienced in several different ways:
"As soon as the unexpected, or for that matter the suprising, is experienced, the listener attempts to fit it into the general system of beliefs relevant to the style of the work. ... three things may happen: (1) The mind may suspend judgment, so to speak, trusting that what follows will clarify the meaning of the unexpected consequent. (2) If no clarification takes place, the mind may reject the whole stimulus and irritation will set in. (3) The expected consequent may be seen as a purposeful blunder. Whether the listener responds in the first or third manner will depend partly on the character of the piece, its mood or designative content. The third response might well be made to [p.29; continuing p. 30] music whose character was comical or satirical. Beckmesser's music in Wagner's Die Meistersinger would probably elicit this type of interpretive understanding." [p.30]
"The inclusion of suspense arising out of uncertainty may, at first sight, appear to be an extension and amplification of the concept of arrest and inhibition of a tendency. But when the matters is considered more carefully, it will be seen that every inhibition or delay creates uncertainty or suspense, if only briefly, because in the moment of delay we become aware of the possibility of alternative modes of continuation. The difference is one of scale and duration, not of kind. Both arouse uncertainties and anxieties as to coming events." [p.27]
"music arouses tendencies and thus fulfils the conditions necessary for the arousal of affect" [p.31]
Meyer thinks past debates about music and emotion have focused excessively on whether (and how) music can refer to the world of images, concepts, experiences or emotional states. While Meyer does not deny that music is sometimes capable of making such references, he believes that the principal affective phenomena lie within the unfolding events within the music itself. Referentialists are right, in that some meanings in music are designative. Similarly, absolutists are right, in that some meanings in music are non-designative. But the referentialist and absolutist views are not logical incompatible (p.33). Meyer thinks that he has found the principal engine of non-designative meaning (and hence emotion) in what he calls "embodied meaning" (p.35) which he considers more important than "designative meaning".
"From this point of view what a musical stimulus or series of stimuli indicate and point to are not extramusical concepts and objects but other musical events which are about to happen. That is, one musical event (be it a tone, a phrase, or a whole section) has meaning because it points to and makes us exect another musical event." (p.35)
Meyer distinguishes three different types of meaning: hypothetical meanings, evident meanings and determinate meanings.
(1) Hypothetical meanings "are those which arise during the act of expectation. ... a given stimulus invariably gives rise to several alternative hypothetical meanings." (p.37)
(2) Evident meanings "are those which are attributed to the antecedent gesture [once the consequent is perceived] and when the relationship between the antecedent and consequent is perceived." (p.37)
(3) Determinate meanings "are those meanings which arise out of the relationships existing between hypothetical meanings, evident meanings, and the later stages of musical development. In other words, determine meaning arises only after the experience of the work is timeless in memory ... [when] these relationships to one another [are] comprehended as fully as possible." (p.38)
Emotion and Meaning in Music is a landmark in the history of music theory. It is important for several reasons. First, it links theoretical arguments concerning music explicitly to human psychology. In effect, it begins with the premise that musical experience is a species of human psychology, and as such, music theory benefits from an understanding of psychology. (Over his career, Meyer went on to train a number of superb and talented theorists, including Eugene Narmour, Robert Gjerdingen and Zohar Eitan, who engaged human psychology quite directly in their work.)
Second, Meyer makes an admirable effort to bridge the gap between formalist and absolutist conceptions of music (on the one hand) with referential and expressionist conceptions (on the other). That is, Meyer establishes an intellectual meeting place where "music lovers" (with their penchant for emotional conceptualizing) can meet music theorists (with their penchant for formalist conceptualizing).
Perhaps the foremost criticism of Meyer is his triple equation of expectation=emotion=meaning. The view that expectation and meaning are intimately linked is reminiscent of the Information Theorists equating of expectation with information. For the information theorists, information content is inversely proportional to expectation: the greater the surprise, the greater the information. However, the information theorists later made a point of distinguishing "informative" from "meaningful".
Consider, for example, the case of speech. Like music, language shows antecedent-consequent patterns. But the meanings of language are not restricted to the undenial affects that arise by thwarting or fulfilling lexical expectations. Language has "meaning" independent of expectation.
Meyer goes so far as to claim that "a stimulus or gesture which does not point to or arouse expectations of a subsequent musical event or consequent is meaningless. Because expectation is largely a product of stylistic experience, music in a style with which we are totally unfamiliar is meaningless." (p.35)
This implies that we get nothing whatsoever from music of other cultures.
I think that Meyer is largely correct in his assessment that expectations are the most important ways of evoking affective responses. However, I think he underestimates the connotative or denotative aspects of sound. Individual sounds can sound "cute," or "crude," "nervous," or "assertive," and these connotations influence the emotional experiences of listeners.
Recall the fast-brain/slow-brain distinction, where the slow brain is the brain of second thoughts. Meyer effectively equates "meaning" with slow-brain (reflective) processing.
"If meaning is to become objectified at all, it will as a rule become so when difficulties are encountered that make normal, automatic behavior impossible. In other words, given a mind disposed toward objectification, meaning will become the focus of attention, an object of conscious consideration, when a tendency or habit reaction is delayed or inhibited."
The fact that meaning arises due to conscious consideration, implies that affect is linked to thought (a cognitivist view of emotion). This leads Meyer to adopt a sort of Hanslickian perspective:
"Once it is recognized that affective experience is just as dependent upon intelligent cognition as conscious intellection, that both involve perception, taking account of, envisaging, and so forth, then thinking and feeling need not be viewed as polar opposites but as different manifestations of a single psychological process. There is no diametric opposition, no inseparable gulf, between the affective and the intellectual responses made to music." [p.39]
"... Seen in this light, the formalist's conception of musical experience and the expressionist's conception of it appear as complementary rather than contradictory positions." [p.40]
Since emotion relies on thought, how we experience music will be shaped by our beliefs. Says Meyer:
"Belief also probably plays an important role in determining the character of the response. Those who have been taught to believe that musical experience is primarily emotional and who are therefore disposed to respond affectively will probably do so. those listeners who have learned to understand music in technical terms will tend to make musical processes an object of conscious consideration. this probably accounts for the fact that most trained critics and aestheticians favor the formalist position." [p.40]
In general, Meyer regards learning as the overwhelmingly most important phenomenon underlying musical expectations and experience. However, he does posit some innate components which grow out of Gestalt psychology. These innate processes include grouping, closure, and good continuation.
A general distinction must be drawn at the outset between those expectations that arise out of the nature of human mental processes -- the modes in which the mind perceives, groups, and organizes the data presented by the senses -- and those expectations that are based upon learning in the broadest sense of the term. In the actual perception of music there is, of course, an intimiate and subtle interaction between the two types of expectation." (p.43)
Another innate process, one that is especially important to Meyer, is the concept of gap fill. The first reference to this concept appears on page 44:
"The mind, for example, expects structural gaps to be filled" (p.44)
The word "meaning" seems to me to be thrown around rather loosely in this chapter.
"the frustration of expectation was found to be the basis of the affective and the intellectual aesthetic response to music. If this hypothesis is correct, then an analysis of the process of expectation is clearly a prerequisite for the understanding of how musical meaning, whether affective or aesthetic, arises in any particular instance. ..." [p.43]
The mind abhors uncertainty:
"Ambiguity is important because it gives rise to particularly strong tensions and powerful expectations. For the human mind, ever searching for the certainty and control which comes with the ability to envisage and predict, avoids and abhors such doubtful and confused states and expects subsequent clarification." [p.51]
"The more equal the probability of different alternative consequents, the more likely that the musical progression will seem ambiguous
"The fact that as we listen to music we not only interpret present stimuli on the basis of past events but also view past events and expect future ones on the basis of present stimuli means that a process at first felt to be ambiguous may later be seen as less so. Similarly processes at first considered unambiguous may later be seen as involving or leading toward ambiguity. In other words, ambiguity depends upon the structural architectonic viewpoint taken toward the stimulus series in question." [p.52]
Meyer has much to say about style. He provides the following definition:
"Musical styles are more or less complex systems of sound relationships understood and used in common by a group of individuals." (p.45)
For Meyer, styles are learned sets of expectations. Styles provide the norms against which ensuing musical events can be heard by a listener as expected or unexpected. Meyer regards the probability of events as key contributors to the sense of style and looks favorably on statistical style studies (p.55).
For Meyer, the relationships between different styles can be characterized in a manner akin to the geneology of languages. He refers to "style-system families" -- groups of related styles. For example, Meyer notes that Bach and Beethoven represent different styles within a single style system or style family, whereas Mozart and Machaut belong to different style systems (p.64).
Of course styles are specific to particular times and places and are not universal (p.60). Style systems are artifical constructs. Listeners respond according to the probability relationships embodied in the style system (p.60).
Meyer notes that it is possible to inappropriately apply the wrong stylistic "set" to a listening experience.
"Fox Strangways, for instance, points out that a piece of Indian music which sounds to Western ears as though it were in C major actually has quite a different "tonic" and, consequently, quite a different group of tendencies and probability relationships for the knowledgeable Hindu listener.*" [p.46]
Ambiguity is contextual:
"A sound term can have different meanings at different times, but this does not prove that the term, or the hypothetical meaning which it first has, is ambiguous. For ambiguity is a state of mind in the listener, not simply a case of double meanings. If we are certain in our minds as to the meaning of a sound term when it first appears, then it is not ambiguous at that time." [p.51]
"In the music of China non-structural tones take the name of the structural tone to which they move together with the word pien, meaning "on the way to" or "becoming." [p.56]
"information about the form and style of a work is important because, as we shall see later in this chapter, it conditions not only what we look for, and hence what we perceive, but also the speed of our perceptions and our responses." [p.59]
"To paraphrase Bertrand Russell: Understanding music is not a matter of dictionary definitions, of knowing this, that, or the other rule of musical syntax and grammar, rather it is a matter of habits correctly acquired in one's self and properly presumed in the particular work." [p.61]
"the habits acquired are not universal but are acquired in connection with a particular style and are relevant to that particular style.
"Music is not a "universal language."" [p.62]
But Meyer doesn't dismiss all notions of universals:
"Yet ... we must also admit that these languages have important characteristics in common." [p.63]
"The organization of sound terms into a system of probability relationships ... are all common characteristics of musical language." [p.63]
Some examples of possible universals:
"Certain musical relationships appear to be well-nigh universal. In almost all cultures, for example, the octave and the fifth or fourth are treated as stable, focal tones toward which other terms of the system tend to move. Similarly many systems have organized tonal progressions, scales, though the relationships between these sound stimuli will vary greatly from system to system." [p.63]
Expecting the unexpected. In this case Meyer describes a sort of "contra-cadential" or "contra-closure" expectation in Struass.
"We can see a similar change of function in the employment of modal cadences which, though normative in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, become exressive deviants in the style of some composers of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Similarly the authentic cadence, a norm in classical and early romantic music, sometimes appears to be a deviant in the style of thelate nineteenth century. There is a striking example of this in Ein Heldenleben by Strauss. Just before number 77 (Eulenberg, miniature score) there is a perfectly regular cadential progression, II-I64-V, in E-flat major, which in a piece written a hundred years earlier would lead us to expect the tonic chord. Here, however, it leads us to expect almost anything but the tonic; and when the tonic does come, it is definitely felt to be a deviant." [p.66]
"A similar development seems to have taken place in the case of Byzantine melodic style. At first deviation and expression was a matter of combing brief melodic formulas in different and surprising ways, thus producing new hymn melodies. However,
The immense number of hymns introduced into the service made it necessary for the ecclesiastical authorities to prohibit the addition of new hymns to the repertory, and the artistic activity of the monks from that time onwards was concentrated upon the embellishment of the music, which, in the following centuries, and even after the fall of the Empire, became increasingly rich and elaborate, until the originally simple structure of Byzantine melodies was transformed into an ornamented style and the words of the text made unrecognizable by extended coloraturas. [Quotation from Egon Wellesz, A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography (London: Oxford University Press, 1949), pp.207-8]
Here we have an excellent example of the relation between socio-political conditions and stylistic development." [p.67]
Regarding the problem of cliche maintaining its "meaning."
"Suppose that a device which was once a deviant in a given style becomes fixed in its relationships and constant in use. Does this mean that it necessarily ceases to be aesthetically effective, that it becomes a norm? The answer appears to be negative. though a deviation may no longer actually function to inhibit a tendency, it may still function expressively as a sign. Whether a deviation becomes a norm or a sign of expression would seem to depend largely upon the context in which it is employed. If it is associated in practice with real deviants, it will probably continue to function in an affective way. If, on the other hand, it becomes associated with clearly normative progressions, then it will tend to become normative within the style." [p.68]
"Even where a deviant does not become an expressive sign it need not necessarily become a norm. If the epxressive value of a relationship becomes weakened through standardization, several alternatives present themselves: (1) The degree of deviation can at times be increased as, for example, it was in the elaboration of coloratura passages in late Byzantine melodies. (2) New deviant devices can be introduced into the style as alternatives, weakening the probability relationships between the former deviant and its consequents. That is, if A to D (a former deviant) is becoming a normative (probable) relationship, the introduction of D1, as an alternative, will of necessity weaken the probability that A will be followed by D and hence renew, as it were, the deviant quality of D. (3) New deviants can be used to replace those which are becoming normalized. The introduction of modal relationships into the harmonic style of the late ninteenth century was an instance of this (4) Old relationships can be revitalized through changes in other apsects of style and through new and different uses for fixed relationships. Harmonic style underwent such a revitalization in the second half of the eighteenth century. The essential structure of the harmonic scheme which flourished during the later baroque was maintained, but its use in the organization of the total structure of the work was new. [pp.68-69]
Several instances in which norms became deviants have been noted. Actually, however, this is neither a necessary nor a common occurrence. If norms do become deviants, the change of function does not as a rule take place immediately but rather after a considerable lapse of time and the establishment of a new style system." [p.69]
"the groundlessness of the traditional dichotomy between emotions and intellect." [p.70]
"stylistic change is a cyclic one." [p.72]
"The patterns of style are fixed by neither God nor nature but are made, modified, and discarded by musicians. What remains constant is the nature of human responses and the principles of pattern perception, the way in which the mind, operating within the framework of a learned style ..." [p.73]
"the listener prepares to attend. ... \fIThe Preparatory Set\fR ... serve to facilitate and condition the subsequent responses ... a "preparatory set." The specific adjustments made are products of (1) the listeners' beliefs about aesthetic experience in general and musical experience in particular, (2) the experience and knowledge previously acquired in listening to and studying about music, and (3) information gathered on the particular occasion in question." [p.73]
"... but also important beliefs as to the nature and significance of aesthetic experience in general and the expected musical experience in particular." [p.73]
"The belief that we are dealing with an aesthetic object leads to what Henry Aiken has called the idea of "framing," that is, belief that an aesthetic object is a special kind of stimulus to which we do not respond by overt action." [pp.73-74]
Regarding the repeated hearing problem, Myer appeals to aesthetic framing:
"... the listener holds his knowledge of the final aesthetic outcome in suspense and believes in the reality of all the expectations, surprises, and delays set forth in the work, even though he may have experienced them in an earlier hearing." [p.74]
"The changes in pulse, respiration, metabolism, and psychogalvanic reflex, which Mursell attributes to "tone as such," do not appear to accompany all acts of attention, though attention is an important factor in their arousal." [pp.74-75]
"... our bodies, responding to this mental set, prepare themselves for the experience." [p.75]
"the tremendous importance of belief in response to art" [p.76]
"The power of most journalistic criticism derives not so much from its ability to influence judgment as from its power to enhance or weaken belief." [p.76]
"Music of the information supplied in program notes for a symphony concert, the popular biographies of composers, or the run-of-the-mill music appreciation course is aimed, albeit unconsciously, primarily at enhancing belief." [p.76]
Meyer distinguishes two kinds of "sets": (1) beliefs, and (2) perception experience.
"The preparatory sets which arise as a result of our beliefs as to the nature of musical experience ...
"... ideo-motor sets based upon past experience in listening and knowledge acquired either systematically or by chance." [p.77]
"What we know and hence expect influences what we perceive" [p.77]
"Knowledge as to the style and form brings about an increased clearness and acuteness in perception." [pp.77-78]
"an opening solo for a single instrument, e.g., the flute solo at the beginning of Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun, will have quite a different effect, will be heard differently, than it would be were it the opening music of a sonata for unaccompanied flute. Furthermore, our expectations of what will follow, partly based upon belief that the musicians are not gathered upon the stage by chance, the
"... belief and expectation ..." [p.79]