“An important way that our brain deals with standard situations is that extracts those elements that are common to multiple situations and creates a framework within which to place them; this framework is called a schema.
The schema for the letter ‘a’ would be a description of its shape, and perhaps a set of memory traces that include all the a’s we’ve ever seen, showing the variability that accompanies the schema. Schemas inform a host of day-to-day interactions we have with the world.
For example, we’ve been to birthday parties and we have a general notion — a schema — of what is common to birthday parties. The birthday party schema will be different for different cultures (as is music), and for people of different ages. The schema leads to clear expectations, as well as a sense of which of those expectations are flexible and which are not.”
This is your brain on music P. 113