Music psychology, or the psychology of music, may be regarded as a branch of both psychology and musicology.It aims to explain and understand musical behaviour and experience, including the processes through which music is perceived, created, responded to, and incorporated into everyday life.Study of topics including vibration, consonance, the harmonic series, and resonance were furthered through the scientific revolution, including work by Galileo, Kepler, Mersenne, and Descartes.
The latter 19th century saw the development of modern music psychology alongside the emergence of a general empirical psychology, one which passed through similar stages of development.
The first was structuralist psychology, led by Wilhelm Wundt, which sought to break down experience into its smallest definable parts.
Although their theories survived, they were also corrupted along the way, in the Middle Ages of Europe.
Music psychology in the second half of the 20th century has expanded to cover a wide array of theoretical and applied areas.
In addition, the controversial "Mozart effect" sparked lengthy debate among researchers, educators, politicians, and the public regarding the relationship between classical music listening, education, and intelligence.
Much work within music psychology seeks to understand the cognitive processes that support musical behaviors, including perception, comprehension, memory, attention, and performance.Originally arising in fields of psychoacoustics and sensation, cognitive theories of how people understand music more recently encompass neuroscience, cognitive science, music theory, music therapy, computer science, psychology, philosophy, and linguistics.This includes isolating which specific features of a musical work or performance convey or elicit certain reactions, the nature of the reactions themselves, and how characteristics of the listener may determine which emotions are felt.Modern music psychology is primarily empirical; its knowledge tends to advance on the basis of interpretations of data collected by systematic observation of and interaction with human participants.Music psychology is a field of research with practical relevance for many areas, including music performance, composition, education, criticism, and therapy, as well as investigations of human attitude, skill, performance, intelligence, creativity, and social behavior.From this he argued that simple ratios were not enough to account for musical phenomenon and that a perceptual approach was necessary.He also claimed that the differences between various tuning systems were not perceivable, thus the disputes were unnecessary.In Europe Géza Révész and Albert Wellek developed a more complex understanding of musical pitch, and in the US the focus shifted to that of music education and the training and development of musical skill.Carl Seashore led this work, producing his The Measurement of Musical Talents and The Psychology of Musical Talent.While the techniques of cognitive psychology allowed for more objective examinations of musical behavior and experience, the theoretical and technological advancements of neuroscience have greatly shaped the direction of music psychology into the 21st century.While the majority of music psychology research has focused on music in a Western context, the field has expanded along with ethnomusicology to examine how the perception and practice of music differs between cultures. In recent years several bestselling popular science books have helped bring the field into public discussion, notably Daniel Levitin's This Is Your Brain On Music (2006) and The World in Six Songs (2008), Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia (2007), and Gary Marcus' Guitar Zero (2012).