Music Cognition Group
The research of the Music Cognition Group (MCG) has a special focus on the everyday listener, using theoretical, empirical and computational methods. The research program aims to identify the basic (neuro)cognitive mechanisms that constitute musicality (and effective ways to study these in human and nonhuman animals) and to develop methods to unravel the cognitive, biological and environmental mechanisms that underpin our capacity for music.
"Over the years it has become clear that we all share a predisposition for music, just like we have for language. Even those of us who can’t play a musical instrument or predisposition, in all its complexity, as 'musicality', defined as a natural, spontaneously developing set of traits that are based on and constrained by our cognitive abilities and its underlying biology. As such, 'music', in all its diversity, can be defined as a social and cultural construct that is built on this musicality" (Honing et al., 2015).
prof. dr Henkjan Honing (Full professor)
Henkjan Honing is a professor of Music Cognition at both the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). He studies what musicality is or can be and to what extent human beings share musicality with other animals. His aim is to define the cognitive and biological mechanisms that underpin musicality.
In addition to a research agenda (The Origins of Musicality, 2018, MIT Press), Honing has published several books for the general public, including the English-language publications Musical Cognition and The Evolving Animal Orchestra. Honing’s books and lectures are popular with a broad audience and are appreciated both inside and outside the scientific world.
Dr. J. Ashley Burgoyne (Assistant Professor in Computational Musicology)
John Ashley Burgoyne is the Lecturer in Computational Musicology at the University of Amsterdam and a researcher in the Music Cognition Group at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation. Cross-appointed in Musicology and Artificial Intelligence, he is interested in understanding musical behaviour at the audio level, using large-scale experiments and audio corpora.
His McGill–Billboard corpus of time-aligned chord and structure transcriptions has served as a backbone for audio chord estimation techniques. His ‘Hooked-on Music’ project reached hundreds of thousands of participants in almost every country on Earth while collecting data to understand long-term musical memory. Currently, he is working through the Amsterdam Music Lab to understand what people are hearing – and what they are ignoring – while they stream music every day.
Dr. Makiko Sadakata (Assistant Professor in Cognitive Musicology)
Makiko Sadakata is a lecturer at the musicology department of the University of Amsterdam. She is one of the core research members at the Music Cognition Group (MCG) at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation. Her research revolves around the question of what music is to our mind and how it differs from other sounds, such as language and environmental sounds. To address this question she uses various methods, but mainly behavioural.
Makiko is also involved in different research projects and topics with the keywords: sound learning, rhythm perception, and background music. Besides, Makiko enjoys teaching music cognition. She learns so much from preparing courses but also from supervising students. Currently, she is teaching several courses related to music cognition and research skills at the University of Amsterdam
Dr. Fleur Bouwer (NWO VENI recipient; FMG Associate)
Since 2021, Fleur is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Amsterdam on a personal NWO Veni grant, examining the relationship between expectations in time and rhythm and beat perception in the brain. She is continuing the work she did on a personal ABC Talent grant at the University of Amsterdam (2016-2019), and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (2020), supervised by Prof. Dr. Heleen Slagter.
In June 2016, Fleur obtained her PhD in the music cognition group at the UvA, supervised by Prof. Dr. Henkjan Honing. She holds both a Master of Science in Psychology (cum laude, 2011, University of Amsterdam) and a Master of Music (with distinction, 2009, Amsterdam Conservatory). In her research, she combines my fascination for the human brain and my passion for music in examining the neural underpinnings of rhythm and beat perception.
In addition to my work as a researcher, Fleur is an enthusiastic educator. She taught courses at the bachelor's and master’s levels and is asked as a public speaker on a regular basis to bring the science about the exceptional bond between humans and music to the public.
Dr. Fabian Moss (Research Fellow in Cultural Analytics; FGw Associate)
Fabian is a Research Fellow in Cultural Analytics at the Media Studies Department at University of Amsterdam (UvA). He is also affiliated with the Language & Music Cognition (LMC) research unit at UvA’s Institute for Language, Logic and Computation (ILLC). He engages with the activities of the Music Cognition Group (MCG) and the Amsterdam Music Lab (AML) as well as with the project Creative Amsterdam: an e-Humanities Perspective (CREATE).
His research is inherently interdisciplinary and aims to bridge the humanities and the sciences. He draws on methods and concepts from Musicology and Music Theory, Mathematics, Music Information Retrieval, Data Science & Machine Learning, Music Psychology & Cognition, and the Digital Humanities. Working with large symbolic datasets of musical scores and harmonic annotations, he is primarily interested in Computational Music Analysis, Music Theory, Music Cognition, and their mutual relationship.
Before his appointment at UvA, Fabian worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Digital and Cognitive Musicology Lab (DCML) at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland) for the project Distant Listening: The Development of Harmony over Three Centuries (1700–2000), funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (PI: Martin Rohrmeier). He also directed the project Digitizing the Dualism Debate: A Case Study in the Computational Analysis of Historical Music Sources, supported by the EPFL-UNIL funding scheme CROSS - Collaborative Research on Science and Society.
Dr. Atser Damsma (Postdoc on UvA-ABC Project)
Atser Damsma is a postdoctoral researcher in the Music Cognition Group at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation (ILLC). His work is supported by an Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC) Project Grant in collaboration with Prof. Henkjan Honing, Dr. Fleur Bouwer and Dr. Pilou Bazin. His research interests focus on how we perceive rhythm, and how this creates expectations when we listen to music.
To answer these questions, he likes to combine computational modelling with behavioural experiments and neuroimaging. He has a background in Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Psychology and obtained his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Groningen in 2020, supervised by Prof. Hedderik van Rijn, Prof. Niels Taatgen and Prof. Ritske de Jong. Besides his scientific endeavours, he has been producing and performing music internationally as a keyboard player and has been collaborating on several sound art installations.
Jiaxin Li, MA (PhD in NWO-OC Project)
Jiaxin Li works as part of the Music Cognition Group (MCG) at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), University of Amsterdam (UvA). Her PhD project is funded by NWO-OC in collaboration with Prof. Henkjan Honing, Dr. Ashley Burgoyne, Prof. dr. Karline Janmaat and Dr. David Baker. She is interested in probing the core components of musicality and how they manifest in different cultures. Computational modelling and behavioural experiments (gamified online and offline cross-cultural experiments) will be combined to investigate these questions.
This interest can be traced back to her master's study in Systematic Musicology at the University of Hamburg, Germany, where her Gold-MSI-SC online-survey project obtained 300,000 hits in two weeks. Besides her academic life, she has been a producer of two short films and is a choir singer living with 35 fishes and more than 35 plants. She sometimes enjoys teaching piano, and always enjoys bouldering.
Dr. David J. Baker (Postdoc in NWO-OC Project)
Dave Baker is interested in music, theory, and the sciences. He currently works as a postdoctoral research associate as part of the Music Cognition Group at the Institute Logic, Language, and Computation at the University of Amsterdam. As an academic researcher, he investigates how tools from cognitive psychology and computational musicology can help understand cognition in ways only possible with music. Dave has a PhD from Louisiana State University in Music Theory and did his graduate minor in Cognitive and Brain Sciences.
As a data scientist, he solves problems for clients who need someone who can both ask meaningful musicological questions as well as use the right technical tools to answer them. He provides both data consultancy and educational services which are run through his private, limited company. As an educator, Dave has taught classes at the university level, has worked as a lead instructor at a data science bootcamp, received certification as an RStudio tidyverse instructor, and gave one-on-one support to anyone who might need help. Besides, he currently serves as the interim chair of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition’s Anti-Racism and Equity committee, participates as a part of the WiMIR mentoring program, and serves as the Proceedings chair for the 2022 Digital Libraries for Musicology conference.
Bas Cornelissen, MSc (PhD student at ILLC; promotors dr W. Zuidema and dr J. A. Burgoyne)
Bas is a PhD student in computational musicology, interested in the cultural evolution of music, and how musical traditions across the world differ. Some people say 'music' should be a verb: something you do. It certainly is something Bas loves doing. During his masters he rediscovered singing and a few years later he found himself studying classical voice at Utrecht Conservatory. Despite his name, if anything, Bas is a baritone. Besides, he has worked as a graphic designer and web developer for over a decade.
Xuan Huang, MA (PhD student at ILLC; CSC Scholarship; promotors prof. dr H. Honing and dr J. A. Burgoyne)
Xuan Huang completed a Master’s Program in Applied Musicology at Utrecht University and is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation at the University of Amsterdam, supervised by Prof. Henkjan Honing and Dr. John A. Burgoyne. Her research is motivated by the questions of why are some music more memorable than others? What kinds of musical characteristics that make Chinese music memorable? Are the features that make Chinese music memorable are the same as Western music? She is also involved in teaching activities (TA). In her free time, she does choral singing and teaches Cantonese and Mandarin.
Zyuan Ning, MSc (PhD student at UL with Prof. C. ten Cate; CSC Scholarship; prof. dr H. Honing, co-promotor)
Dr. Berit Janssen (Exchange engineer; PDI-SSH MUSCLE project; AML)
Berit Janssen is a scientific programmer for the Digital Humanities Lab (Utrecht University) and the Amsterdam Music Lab (University of Amsterdam). After her MA in Musicology and English Literature at the University of Hamburg, she performed her doctoral research at the Dutch Meertens Institute and the University of Amsterdam, applying computational approaches to study melodic stability in Dutch folk songs. Since 2017, she supports other social sciences and humanities researchers to collect and analyse research data with web applications.
Dr. Albertas Janulevicius (Back-end engineer; PDI-SSH MUSCLE project; AML)
Albertas has a PhD from Delft University of Technology in Computational Biology and Biophysics, and did postdoctoral research at the University of Groningen. Within the Music Cognition Group, he is a programmer. Fun facts about him? : <File not found. Check the file name and try again>. OK, perhaps one, he is constantly trying to find more time to improve his piano skills.
Evert Rot (Webdeveloper; AML)
Evert Rot started coding and creating electronic music on a Commodore 64 when he was 12 years old. While keeping these activities as an intensive hobby, or perhaps even a lifestyle, throughout his life, where he mainly worked as an electrical engineer, troubleshooting and building computer systems and automatic door systems. In 2019 some of his music was released on vinyl, containing tracks and lyrics from 1988, as well as a couple from the century we live in now.
In 2020 he graduated with honours as a full-stack software developer at Code Institute, Ireland. This enabled him to work as a freelance coder for KNMI, Magzmaker, and now here at the Music Cognition Group, where he finally brought all his interests and youth dreams together.
Zwanet Young, BSc (Student Assistant, KNAW WTC project)
Zwanet is a master’s student in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Amsterdam. In the Music Cognition Group, she is a student assistant on the ‘KNAW Wetenschapscommunicatie’ project, wherein a Dutch website with games is created to promote the research areas of the Music Cognition Group.
Mariëlle Baelemans, BA/BSc (PA to prof. dr H. Honing)
Mariëlle is a double master's student in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Music Studies at the University of Amsterdam. In the Music Cognition Group, she works as a personal assistant to prof. dr. Henkjan Honing. In the spring semester of 2022, she was a research intern at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, where she studied the structural prediction of natural music production. Besides studying and research, she has a great love for writing (about music), all different sports activities and taking care of her more than 30 house plants.