Major-minor and consonance-dissonance are two profound elements of Western tonal music, and have strong affective connotations for Western listeners. This review summarizes recent evidence on the neurocognitive basis of major-minor and consonance-dissonance by presenting studies on their processing and how it is affected by maturation, musical enculturation, and music training. Based on recent findings in the field, it is proposed that both classifications, particularly consonance-dissonance, have partly innate, biologically hard-wired properties. These properties can make them discriminable even for newborn infants and individuals living outside the Western music culture and, to a small extent, reflect their affective connotations in Western music. Still, musical enculturation and active music training drastically modify the sensory/acoustical as well as affective processing of major-minor and consonance-dissonance. This leads to considerable variance in psychophysiological and behavioral responses to these musical classifications.
- Received March 14, 2016.
- Accepted August 16, 2016.
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