(FOX NEWS) — Turn up the radio.
Researchers say the right combination of uncertainty and surprise is what gives listeners the most pleasure.
The study was published in the journal “Current Biology” and looked at chords in more than 700 pop songs from the Billboard “Hot 100” chart between 1958 and 1991.
Researchers asked 39 adult volunteers to rate how pleasurable they found each series of chords, minus melody and lyrics.
They found participants derived greater pleasure when they were relatively certain what would happen next but then were surprised by an unexpected chord progression.
The same number of participants found it pleasant when they were uncertain as to what would follow, and then the subsequent chords were more familiar to them.
Songs used in the experiments included James Taylor’s “Country Roads,” UB40’s “Red, Red Wine” and The Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”
The findings could help composers write music or predict musical trends.