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Understanding the Reception of Schoenberg’s Music From a Neuroscientist’s Perspective
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 Material Information
Title: Understanding the Reception of Schoenberg’s Music From a Neuroscientist’s Perspective
Series Title: Journal of Undergraduate Research
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Conte, William L.
dos Santos, Silvio ( Mentor )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009
Abstract: When Arnold Schoenberg adopted an atonal compositional style in the early twentieth century he met a series of unprecedented negative criticism and violent events at premieres of his works. While scholars have attributed the negative reception of Schoenberg’s music to a variety of social reasons, such as the possibility that listeners attended his performances wanting to provoke a controversy, this article reexamines these events using neuroscience and establishes a difference in perception of tonal and atonal works. I hypothesize that the resistance to atonal music was due to the audience’s predisposition to tonal music and that this predisposition influenced the expectations of listeners. According to the scientific literature, the pleasure experienced by listening to music is derived from a positive reinforcement of expectations. Based upon research into song acquisition in birds, there is a critical period during early childhood where we are able to internalize scale degree statistics without formal education. In western cultures, these internalizations are governed by tonality. Therefore, the internalized sense of tonality contributed to the harsh reception of Schoenberg’s music.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UF00091523:00574

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