Why does music sound good to us? Why is it that a single guitar bend, blues riff on a piano, or a scream by a singer can cause us such a sensation? What makes it better than just noise?

As a physicist, I tried to think of this question from our perspective. Every sound, song, noise or what have you can be decomposed to single frequency waves. We can write the spectrum, i.e. what frequencies (or equivalently musical notes) compose this particular sound and at what intensity. 'A' is well known to have a 440 Hz frequency, for example.

Composed music usually have well defined frequencies. Most of the frequencies will have no effect on the composition (zero intensity), only the ones that the composer decided. Maybe some frequencies will be added due to the digital nature of modern recording, but the highest intensities will be at the frequencies that the composer / pianist played.

Noise, on the other hand, is usually composed of all frequencies (ideally). Every frequency will have a significant contribution to the overall noise. Maybe there will be a central frequency that dominates a bit, but it would not have a significantly higher intensity than the other frequencies.

So my question is, can our brain prefer compositions with well defined frequencies over a scramble of frequencies? Can this be one of the reasons we like composed music better than noise?


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