Daniel Levitin, a scientist who studies the human brain, did a computer analysis of music in many different styles composed over the past 400 years.
From Johann Sebastian Bach to Scott Joplin to Elvis, this pattern is not something we are conscious of as we listen, but seems to touch off a response in the human brain.
The research team, which included Vinod Menon of Stanford University, found that all the musical compositions are composed of repeating motifs that reflect the overall structure of the work itself. At the same time, each composer had his or her own highly individual rhythmic signature.
D - I found a link to some guy trying to quantify the emotional content of music based on pitch changes.
Maybe a little bit kooky - but promising.
These researchers conclude that other intervals aside from the generic major / minor third (scale degree 1 and 3) might play a role in the perception of emotional value. Thus, this study is important as it implies that perhaps a more universal cognitive process, one that is not exclusive to the major / minor third interval, but rather a generalized neural correlate, might administer musical emotion.