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Theories of Cognition in Music


Theoriesof Cognition in Music


Theoriesof Cognition in Music

Cognitionentails perception, reasoning,and learning. Psychology and ethnomusicology intersect, especiallywhen it comes to addressing how human beings perceive and understandmusic. Scientific research affirms that peopleundergo a series of psychological processes that facilitate theunderstanding of music. Another common notion is that emotions aresignificantly involved in music. Therefore, emotion and cognitionshare a direct link regarding music. In any environment orthe lifeof people, different factors motivate the type of music listenedto by individuals.For instance, emotional music linksto sad situations like the loss of a loved one whereas songsof bliss characterize an event like a wedding.Despite the situation or the type of music in the play,the process of cognition tends to be the same (Cross, 2014). However,different theories exist regarding the perceptionprocess in music. The analysis of this essay focuses on outlining thetheories that explain the perceptionof music.

Howmusic influences cognitive development

Manytheories affirm that music plays a fundamental role in braindevelopment. However,the development process might be negative or positive that ultimatelyimpacts on the learning process of an individual. Existing evidencereveals that music impacts positively on the learning process(Peretz, 2014). Therefore, asubstantialconnection exists between the well-functioning of brains and musiccognition. However, the many instances relating to music indicatethat the success of music and reasoning only triggers short spatialmemories (Jackendoff &amp Lerdahl, 2014). Additionally, musictriggers memories which can significantly impact on the developmentalstatus of an individual. Bad memories damage the perception thatpeople have towards situations or other characters.Furthermore, relating music to events and happenings contributes tothe future notions that individuals orthe society possess.In other aspects of life, music also refersto many events that are of great importance to the cognitivedevelopment of the societyas a whole.


Musicoriginates from rhythms that are well arranged tobring out a meaningful outcome.Duration, intensity, timbre and pitch are some of the features thatcollectively result in good music. A sequence of notes makes up themusic surface in the initialstages of music cognition. However, some entities in the musicstructure do not influence each other but exist independently.Regardless, each of the entity exhibits distinctcharacteristics that ultimately contribute to the general structureand organization of music (Huron, 2014). The bodystructures getgroupedin different sizes, some large and others small but they ultimatelyresult in the process of cognition. If all these structures cometogetherperfectly, the resultant element is the understanding of themusicby the listener. Therefore, music organization is the critical andprimary entity towards achieving cognition.

Cognitivestructures and understanding

Everybodystrives for survival in the universe. Scientists affirm that theability to predict the future is very critical for survival. Thehuman mind is designed to embrace anticipations. The mentionedexpectations get developed in the human mind to evoke feelings thatbring psychological and physiological changes in the human body.Music entails different forms of cognitive structures that contributeto one’s understanding of the artist`s piece. However, people tendto listen to every kind of music which results in differentconsequences or expectations (Deutsch, 2012). Therefore, music canpredict the future inthe form ofvaluesor emotions. Additionally, the theory affirms that human beings getassociatedwith music in different ways. The process is made efficientthrough the brain system, which triggers emotionson exposing someone to any form of music.


Oneof the most commonly associated beliefs is that importantevents relatedtomusic are instrumental in the emotional meaning displayed in music.Personal memories significantly inspire specific pieces that comprisemusic.Therefore, the psychologicalperspective of music seems to vary among individuals considering thatthey all have different experiences in life. However, theseexperiences appearto be similar to those of other people, whichmakes individuals relate music to their lives (Moors, 2013).Additionally, emotional connotations, events or the sound of objectsassociatewith music in varying dimensions. Another belief held by people isthat music sounds have an emotional connection and that is purelyevident when listening to a piece that expresses different themesregarding life. Therefore, the relationshipbetween emotions and music is highly visiblein any form of musical creation,and human beings entirely relate to these creations.


Psychologicalresearch has significantlyembraced the field of musical emotions. It helps in understanding thecognition of music structures that refersto the activestatus of music emotions. Music plays a critical role in theperceptionprocess. Many people associate with music through situations in theirdaily undertakings (Jackendoff &ampLerdahl, 2014). The process ofmusic perceptionbegins with music development which entails, rhythms and othermusical patterns of relevance to the system. Afterward, human beingshave the ability to note whether the musicis well developed.In the entire process, brains are significantly involved with all theevents that take place. Afterward, the mood of the music influencesan individual’s emotional status. Expectations of memories gettriggeredin the process. Therefore, understanding how music affects cognitionhelps in relating the mental situationof peopleto the type of music they receive exposure.


Cross,I. (2014). Music and communication in music psychology.&nbspPsychologyof Music,42 (6),809-819. Retrievedfrom the http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0305735614543968

Deutsch,D. (2012).&nbspThePsychology of music&nbsp(1stEd.). New York: Academic Press.

Huron,D. (2014). SweetAnticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation.Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Jackendoff,R. &ampLerdahl, F (2014). Thecapacity for music: What is it, and what`s special about it?Cognition, 100 (1), 33-72. Retrieved fromhttps://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/jackendoff/papers/CapacityforMusic.pdf

Moors,A. (2013). Theories of emotion causation: A review.&nbspCognition&amp Emotion,&nbsp23(4),625-662. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02699930802645739

Peretz,I. (2014). The nature of music from a biologicalperspective.&nbspCognition,&nbsp100(1),1-32. Retrieved fromhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2005.11.004