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Durham University


Areas of expertise: Music & Science

Music & Science research is an integral part of the interdisciplinary offerings within the Music Department. Research in this area seeks to understand how music influences listeners and performers in everyday and performance contexts, including the underlying mechanisms involved in processing, creating, and enjoying music. This is an inherently empirical and interdisciplinary research area. Specific research expertise in the Department includes how music influences emotions (Professor Tuomas Eerola), performers’ entrainment and synchronisation during music making (Professor Martin Clayton), large-scale analyses of music using computational models to emulate the ways listeners process music (Professor Nick Collins, Professor Eerola), music and memory (Dr Kelly Jakubowski), music and mind-wandering (Dr Liila Taruffi), and cross-cultural aspects of music performance and listening (Professor Clayton, Professor Eerola, Dr Jakubowski, Dr Laura Leante).A range of opportunities for engaging with Music & Science research are available in the Department, from undergraduate modules (e.g., Music and Science, Psychology of Music) to postgraduate research projects and seminars. Exemplary research by undergraduates in this area has been featured in our own, in-house journal, Durham Undergraduate Research in Music & Science, while postgraduate students regularly publish their work in leading international journals, such as Psychology of Musicand Frontiers in Psychology. Eminent scholars in this field have regularly featured as guest lecturers in the Departmental Research Seminars, visiting professors (e.g., Peter Keller and Udo Will as Leverhulme Visiting Professors, Bill Thompson as Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) Fellow), and speakers in thematic workshops (e.g., Music & Science Symposia).

Research Projects

Research in Music & Science at Durham addresses a wide range of themes. Current and previous funded projects include Interpersonal Entrainment in Music Performance (AHRC), The Breath of Music: Investigating Respiration in Indian Music Performance (British Academy/Leverhulme Trust), Tagging Music for Emotions (ESRC), Sweet Sorrow (Academy of Finland), Large-Scale Corpus Analysis of Historical Electronic Music using MIR Tools (funded by the Transforming Musicology project through the AHRC), Earworms: Quantifying the Experience of Tunes Stuck in the Head (Leverhulme Trust, SEMPRE), and Music-Evoked Autobiographical Memories (Leverhulme Trust). For details of these and other ongoing projects, please visit our Music & Science Lab website.

Research Infrastructure

Research in Music & Science is supported by our outstanding technical facilities, including a custom-built Music and Science Laboratory (MSL). This laboratory hosts data analysis workstations and specialist equipment to capture, measure and analyse musical behaviour, including portable physiology response kits, an electroencephalography system (EEG), recording and playback equipment, and audience response capture devices. In addition, research in this area is supported by our three music studios, professional equipment for recording in fieldwork contexts, and the Audiovisual Documentation and Analysis Laboratory (ADAL). Durham University also hosts relevant equipment at other sites (e.g. the motion capture lab in the Department of Psychology, fMRI at the Stockton Campus).