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Originally posted by checkers
I am aware that several popular musicians (Madonna, Prince, Timberlake) use a 3121 tempo because humans are attracted to it for some reason. Apparently, we pay big money to hear that sequence. It seems to be some kind of auditory key.
Both melodies and the musical scales on which they are based are all about differences in frequency - what musicians call the "intervals" - between the notes. Listen to pairs of randomly chosen frequencies played simultaneously and you'll find that some combinations sound pleasing while others can be unpleasant. What matters as far as our perception is concerned is the ratio of the frequencies: the ones we prefer tend to be simple ratios such as 2:1, 3:2 and so on.
Our brains learn a kind of musical grammar that is specific to the music of our culture, just as we learn to speak the language of our culture. This becomes the basis for our understanding of music, and ultimately the basis for what we like in music, what music moves us, and how it moves us.