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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellows' Seminar - Who Cares About Bad Singing?

9th December 2019, 13:00 to 14:00, Seminar Room, Institute of Advanced Study, Professor Andrea Halpern (Bucknell University)


Singing is the near-universal musical activity and informal singing is important to many people in many contexts, from childhood to older age. People sing at celebratory events, patriotic occasions, religious worship, to change their mood, and just for fun. But it is clearly not the case that all humans sing equally well -- although neither is it the case that people sing as badly as they often claim).Understanding singing (ability to match pitch) presents a conceptual and technical challenge to behavioural scientists, because the process is hidden to external observers and even the singer him or herself, unlike the visual and tactile feedback available during playing of instruments. In this talk, Professor Halpern will present a case for the importance of the study of singing for the field of experimental psychology, as it as an ideal model of how sensory, motor, and cognitive systems interconnect more generally. She will present some experiments that use assorted methods of experimental psychology (behavioral and physiological) to systematically study this process. The focus will be on the importance of the accuracy of the auditory image, or the current “target” that people are trying to imitate, to enable accurate output. No singing will be required of the audience, but mental singing will be encouraged!

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues or students interested in attending a seminar should register online in advance to reserve a place. Places will be confirmed within 48 hours of receipt (subject to availability). Alternatively please contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

Contact for more information about this event.