1 Aug 2023Last modified 3 Jul 2024

Developing a test battery for measuring musicality in a hunter-gatherer society

This project is part of a series of studies contributing to an interdisciplinary research agenda on musicality (Honing, 2022). The main aim is to develop engaging listening games that allow for probing musicality in a variety of geographical regions.

  • Status: position filled
  • Starting date: October 2023
  • Outcome: masters thesis

Project description

We are looking for a Master’s level student interested in empirical musicology or cognitive science to develop and assemble a perceptual test battery that will be used to collect cognitive and musicality data from members of a hunter-gatherer society (cf. Lewis, 2013). You will first adapt a current task, the Matching Pairs game (TuneTwins), to be used during field work occurring in the Spring of 2024 with the BaYaka people in Central Africa. This includes taking into account the technical requirements needed to work in remote areas, as well as several considerations for doing cross-cultural work. You will then work in collaboration with several musicologists and cognitive scientists to develop a set of perceptual / behavioural tests that will probe other core components of musicality (cf. Honing, 2022, Table 1), that will be operated using the same platform.

Given the level of rigour and collaboration required for this project, the results of this project will lead to a master thesis, and possibly a co-authored publication. As this project is part of a larger, funded, interdisciplinary project, the deadlines for this work are non-negotiable.

N.B. The candidate will participate in regular research meetings with the WP3 workgroup, planned from October 2023 until April 2024, preparing for the experiments with the BaYaka in May 2024. This project is very well suited for any students who will be interested in applying to competitive PhD programs after their Masters.


  • BSc in Psychology, Cognitive Science, Musicology or related field;
  • Interest in the human capacity for music


prof. dr H. Honing


Honing, H. (2022). Unravelling our capacity for music (Research Proposal NWO-OC). [Pure]

Lewis J. (2013). A cross-cultural perspective on the significance of music and dance to culture and society: insight from BaYaka Pygmies. Language, music, and the brain: a mysterious relationship (ed. & Arbib M), pp. 45–65. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. doi: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262018104.003.0002.

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