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AIAS Seminar: Samuel Mehr, Harvard University, USA

Principles of music perception

2021.01.19 | AIAS

Date Mon 17 May
Time 14:15 15:30

The talk is streamed via Zoom. Join URL: https://aarhusuniversity.zoom.us/j/64628535572 to attend.  

Speaker: Samuel Mehr, Research Associate, Department of Psychology, Harvard University 


Human musicality is underlain by two distinct systems of representation: one for tonal perception, which contextualizes pitch input in reference to a hierarchy of tones; and one for metrical perception, which contextualizes temporal input in reference to a hierarchy of rhythmic groupings. The two systems appear to be universal, early-developing, encapsulated, and supported by distinct genetic and neural correlates. But unlike the systems underlying number and spatial cognition, and like those underlying language, tonal and metrical perception appear to be uniquely human. Tonal and metrical representation form a basic structure for music perception that, when combined with each other and with higher-level musical structures (such as harmony, timbre, etc), and used in conjunction with other domains of human cognition including auditory (but non-musical) perception, social cognition, and language, yield a human psychology of music.

Short bio

Samuel A. Mehr is Principal Investigator at The Music Lab, Department of Psychology, Harvard University. He studies how and why the design of the human mind leads us to perceive, create, and engage with music across human societies and across the lifespan. Originally a musician, Sam earned a B.M. in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music, followed by a doctorate in Human Development from Harvard. You can participate in Sam's research at themusiclab.org and follow him on Twitter @samuelmehr.

What is an AIAS Seminar?

The AIAS Seminar is a session of seminars held by the AIAS fellow or by other speakers proposed by the fellows. In each seminar, one fellow will present and discuss his/her current research and research project, closing off with a question and discussion session.

All seminars are held in English.