That's actually what was going through my mind when I was trying to explain it.
If the disconnected universe were to listen to Beethoven ... it would appear as fractal art ... pleasing only in the sense that it obeyed rules. But somehow our emotions are played with by certain ... arrangements of the fractal.
If you listen to Gregorian Chants ... it's beautiful but NOT because of harmony or melody (actually melody can be beautiful, but it probably wouldn't be if it were just the same melody played out on piano)
As time progressed, composers started messing with things. But always - it is in relation to resolving. you start to hear these tricks in Classical music ... but all of it can be analyzed. But what's weird is that you don't need to know theory - the ability to analyze it - to come up with it. So there is a second mechanism in our brains that can get at it purely through aesthetics.
Elton John was classically trained - so his music is very easy to analyze.
Almost all music follows a version of progressive movement from 1 to 4 to 5 to 1. (not that 1 - 4 is movement up a 4th, which is the strongest movement, and so is 5 to 1 (because there are 8 'notes' ... so 5 to 6 to 7 to 1 is 4.) The second strongest movement is up a 2nd -> say, from 1 to 2, or 7 to 8.
All classic blues is based virtually entirely on 1-4-5 movement.
New age music gets very boring because it doesn't use strong movement, so there is no tension, and that's also why it's relaxing.
An example of temporarily messing with the math is that the strongest melodic movement is the 7 to the 1 (one is always the tonic center - what things resolve to to make Mr. Mind feel like the tension has all been resolved.
So you go hundreds of years with them composing stuff like this, but then the composers (and listeners) start to get bored. So they say "well OK to stretch it out, we'll change key's -> we'll wander from tonic center to tonic center.
So no consider that we said movement from the 5 to 1 chord is the strongest chord movement, but we also said movement from the 7 to 1 is the strongest melodic movement (actually, chord movement from 7 IS the strongest, because there is a diminished 5th BUT the brain hates that (until it's mellowed by jazz and 7 chords) ... so it wasn't used a lot.
But let's say we want to move from the key of C to the Key of G -> very common in either major or minor. When you move from key to key, you need to try to find a 'pivot' chord - a chord that exists in both keys, so that the ear/brain doesn't say "hey ... come on ... that's just a plain old new song."
So you see this:
Pop music that is popular -> always always always you can easily identify the harmonic trick that the mind loves. Of course that has to be combined with the lyrics, and or the love of the artist etc.
But, at the end of the day, if you analyze Beethoven's 9th (I've never done it - it would be fun) it's going to be 1, 4, 5 ... 1, 2, 5 ... 5's of 5 and 7's of 5 all over the place.
You'd probably enjoy - if you don't want to dive too deep into all of this - but just to appreciate it -> go online and read an intro course to counterpoint.
Yet as I said - some of your favorite musicians will never have been trained in music theory in their lives - and though all of these music theory 'rules' can be codified as math - they will come at it merely from the ear.
I think all genius, whether wit, philosophy, music, visual art is merely thought that is at it's base, without the artist able to change it other than through intense discipline (which requires character - but also love for what they are doing - lost to the point of turning of the monkey chattering thoughts-mind) ... all this genius is at it's base the same ... it's a product of order, with a slight conscious violation of that order, that then returns to the order.
It is literally 'being close to God, being one with God' ... and in saying so I put no definition on how God should be revealed for anyone. It's more like being 'without attribute' or 'what already is.'
I would love to read what you write about Mencken - any exposure to genius is purifying. Usually what I find is that what defines the genius is not the construction - not what's included -> but what's not allowed in, what's proscribed. Hence the Constitution of course ...
| For a small creature, you're got a big mind :-)
One key take away from your comment that resonated for me was:
We could have a very long discussion on that one! The brain is organized to filter information so we only notice things that break the stereotypes we've previously stored. If it weren't that way, our brains would overload.
The human mind apparently hungers for the new and fresh.
I posted a couple of weird posts on FR where the pictures violated the established "order" and I got some good comments.
Your theory explains a lot, I think.