I review the theoretical and experimental literature on musical forces and melodic expectation, showing important connections between that work and the work of leading jazz theorists. I then show how ideas derived from that work may help us understand a few passages of recorded jazz. The examples include two compositions (the "heads" to Charlie Parker's "Confirmation" and Toshiko Akiyoshi's "I Ain't Gonna Ask No More") and a few improvised passages (by Bill Evans and Charlie Parker). Viewing these examples in terms of what cognitive science tells us about melodic expectation clarifies their rhetorical and gestural "meanings." Furthermore, these same examples can help us test those same theories of melodic expectation——multiple regression analysis of the frequency with which certain patterns are completed within these same examples provides an empirical test of assertions derived from the literature reviewed.

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