Most of us are drawn the familiar, but does that same attraction determine thew music we prefer? To find out, music psychologist Elizabeth Margulis took a digital razor blade to the music of classical composer Luciano Berio. "I just went in and whenever there was a little pause on either side of something, I grabbed that out and then I'd stick it back in — truly without regard to aesthetic intent," Margolis told NPR. "I wasn't trying to craft anything compelling."
In test listening, people were overwhelming drawn to repetition, even finding the randomly edited music more 'human'. "They reported enjoying the excerpts that had repetition more," said Margulis. "They reported finding them more interesting, and - most surprising to me - they reported them as more likely to have been crafted by a human artist, rather than randomly generated by a computer..."It seems to be a cultural universal."
The 'Mere Exposure Effect'
"Let's say you've heard a little tune before, but you don't even know that you've heard it, and then you hear it again. The second time you hear it you know what to expect to a certain extent, even if you don't know you know," Maugulis says. "You are just better able to handle that sequence of sounds. And what it seems like [your mind is saying] is just, 'Oh I like this! This is a good tune!' But that's a misattribution."