Velardo, Valerio and Vallati, Mauro (2015) The Effect of Repetition and Expertise on Liking and Complexity in Contemporary Music. In: Proceedings of the Ninth Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music. Royal Northern College of Music, pp. 810-815.

Aesthetic perception of music has been extensively researched in the last decades. Numerous studies suggest that listeners find a piece of music more or less pleasant according to its complexity. Experimental results show that complexity and liking have different relationship
according to the musical genre examined, and that these two variables are also affected by other factors such as familiarity to the music and
expertise of the listener. Although previous experiments have examined several genres such as jazz, pop, rock and bluegrass, surprisingly, no study has focused on contemporary music.
In this paper, we fill this gap by studying the relationships between complexity, liking, musical training and familiarity in the case of
contemporary music. By analysing this genre – which is usually underrepresented in music cognition – it is possible to shed some light
on the correlation between liking and complexity in the case of highly complex music. To obtain data, a multifactor experiment was designed in which both music experts and novices had to provide scores of subjective complexity and liking for four 30-second long excerpts of contemporary music with different degrees of complexity.
Empirical results suggest that liking and complexity are negatively correlated in the case of contemporary music and that listeners’
expertise does not influence the perceived complexity of musical pieces, but it can significantly affect liking. This possibly indicates that experts have the musical knowledge needed to appreciate extremely complex music, while novices do not.

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