University of Rochester


Music Cognition Cluster

The Music Cognition Symposium was founded in 1998 as an interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty in the music theory department of the Eastman School, the Brain and Cognitive Sciences of the College, and the Psychology Department of Cornell University. In 2005, we were recognized as a Cluster and began receiving funding from UCIS. Our mission is to promote interdisciplinary study of music cognition through many lenses: music theory, linguistics, cognition, computation, brain imaging, learning and development, sound component analysis and synthesis, statistics and probability, ethnographic research, and others. We do so by gathering as a community four times per year for an afternoon symposium of papers and discussion around a topic, sometimes combined with a meal or reception for more informal exchange of ideas. We combine outside guest speakers with presentations by our own participating faculty and students. In recent years, we have added short two- or three-day residencies by prominent researchers, who meet with faculty and students and share their time between departments as appropriate (e.g., giving several talks for different audiences in different departments). Our meetings have become a venue from which new collaborative research has sprung, and our members have been key in proposing a new “Center for Music and Sound” as outlined in the Strategic Plan of the College.

Symposia are organized around a theme: topics have included probabilistic modeling of musical structure, musical expectation, musical development, absolute pitch, music and evolution, music and the brain, musical dysfunction (amusia), cognitive aspects of performance expression, music information retrieval, perception of music latency on the internet, and music-language connections including the pitch and rhythmic contours of speech and music. Over the years, the Music Cognition Symposium has co-sponsored speakers with the Neurosciences Cluster, and with the departments of Electrical Engineering, Linguistics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Music Education, and Music Theory. 

Steering Committee: Elizabeth West Marvin and David Temperley (Eastman); Elise Piazza (Brain and Cognitive Sciences), Zhiyao Duan (Computer Science) and Anne Luebke (Biomedical Engineering) at the College ; Carol Krumhansl at Cornell University, and Peter Pfordresher at SUNY Buffalo.

More Information and Upcoming Symposium Sessions

Music Cognition Chair — Davy Temperley