Main | I. Introduction to Empirical Study »


Ben Carson  [ email / more info ]  Course number 22032

Mondays 4 - 7 PM in Music Center 245

Office hours — rm 148: Mondays 1:00 - 2:00 pm, Wednesdays 12:00 - 1:00 pm 


Investigations in the psychology of musical listening and awareness. Topics include time and rhythm perception, auditory scene analysis, pattern recognition, and theories of linguistics applied to harmony, melody, and form in the music of diverse cultures. Explores applications of the cognitive sciences to music transcription, analysis, composition, interpretation, and performance practice. Students apply existing knowledge in the cognitive sciences to a developing creative or analytical project, or develop and conduct new experiments. Enrollment restricted to graduate students. Enrollment limited to 16. May be repeated for credit. B. Carson.

Useful links:

Glossary of Terms

Major Project Prompts: Version 1 (Empirical Study) Version 2 (Critical Review)

Society for Music Perception and Cognition’s ”Resources

What is Music Cognition? (According to Ohio State University’s faculty, including David Huron)

The Royal College of Music’s Center for Performance Science


What is the empirical study of music perception—and what should it be? After an initial exploration of traditional empiricism and psychology, we’ll explore the core of Cognitive Musicology as a discipline, which has traditionally focused on the the brain’s processing of music’s acoustic dimensions. More recent empirical studies have examined the impact of social structures, cultural communication, belief systems, and the development of identity, on our experience of music.

Seminarians in 206D will engage in two parallel streams of learning. On the pragmatic level, a series of empirical studies—in no way chosen to be comprehensive or canonical—will familiarize us with current scientific approaches and knowledge, on aspects of music’s relationships to the mind. At the same time, we’ll pursue a series of readings about what it means to think empirically, and how empirical investigations are designed—we do this not only to think critically about the state of the discipline (which, like all science, has plenty of chances to fail!), but to consider the best possible frameworks for our own questions and research.


I. Introduction to Empirical Study (March 28, April 4)

II. Evolution, Ecology, and the Beat (April 11 with Guest Chris Dobrian, April 18)

( My notes on Justus & Hutsler (2005) Fundamental Issues in the Evolutionary Psychology of Music: Assessing Innateness and Domain Specificity. Music Perception 32/1: 1-27. )

III. Dimensions of musical experience, grouping, and streaming (April 25, May 2 with guest Larry Polansky)

IV. Music, Emotion, and Meaning (May 9 with guest Dard Neuman, May 16)

V. Melody and form (May 23 with guest Lisa Margulis)

(Final presentations: Wednesday, June 8 — 7:30-10:30 pm.)

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