Modeling Musical Complexity: Commentary on Eerola (2016)

Joshua Albrecht


In his paper, “Expectancy violation and information-theoretic models of melodic complexity,” Eerola compares a number of models that correlate musical features of monophonic melodies with participant ratings of perceived melodic complexity. He finds that fairly strong results can be achieved using several different approaches to modeling perceived melodic complexity. The data used in this study are gathered from several previously published studies that use widely different types of melodies, including isochronous folk melodies, isochronous 12-tone rows, and rhythmically complex African folk melodies. This commentary first briefly reviews the article’s method and main findings, then suggests a rethinking of the theoretical framework of the study. Finally, some of the methodological issues of the study are discussed.


complexity; melody; information theory; musical expectancy

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Copyright (c) 2016 Joshua Albrecht

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