Last updated: 2022.10.31
How Music Works: Academic Year 2022/23
Flyer How Music Works: Two Master level courses on Music Cognition

The University of Amsterdam offers two Master-level courses grouped under the name “How Music Works”. Several members of the Music Cognition Group contribute their various backgrounds to these courses, ranging from music theory and cognitive science to psychology and computer science. Next to outlining the theoretical underpinnings and presenting an up-to-date view of the field of music cognition, it provides practical hands-on classes presenting a variety of computational techniques and experimental designs.

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How Music Works: Computational and Cognitive Perspectives (MA course Musicology, 6 EC)
dr J.A. Burgoyne and dr M. Sadakata | Start semester 1, block 1 & 2

In the last two decades an important shift has occurred in music research, that is, from music as an art (or art object) to music as a process in which the performer, the listener, and music as sound play a central role. This transformation is most notable in the field of systematic musicology, which developed from “a mere extension of musicology” into a “complete reorientation of the discipline to fundamental questions which are non-historical in nature, [encompassing] research into the nature and properties of music as an acoustical, psychological and cognitive phenomenon” (Duckles & Pasler, 2001; Honing, 2006). These recent strands of music research will be interpreted in the context of the “cognitive revolution” in the humanities and the sciences. Next to an overview of the methods and techniques that became central to the contemporary musicologist’s toolkit, current developments will be discussed that explore what cognitive musicology can say about how music works.
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How Music Works: Music cognition (rMSc course Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 6 EC)
Prof. dr H. Honing (and guest lecturers) | Start semester 2, block 4

Over the years it has become clear that all humans share a predisposition for music, just like we have for language. We all can perceive and enjoy music. This view is supported by a growing body of research from developmental psychology neuroscience and the many contributions from the field of music cognition. These studies indicate that our capacity for music has an intimate relationship with our cognition and underlying biology, which is particularly clear when the focus is on perception rather than production.
The aim of this course is to identify the cognitive, biological and mechanistic underpinnings for music cognition as key ingredients of musicality, to assess to what extent these are unique to humans, and by doing so providing insight in their potential biological origins. As such this course has the aspiration to lay a new, interdisciplinary and comparative foundation for the study of musicality.
In addition, this course will discuss recent developments in the research field of music cognition. Topics include a) the origins and evolution of musicality, b) the cognition of rhythm and melody, c) musical competence, d) relation between musical and non-musical abilities, and e) the similarities and differences between music and language. The topics might change due to recent developments.
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For related courses, see MCG courses.