Monday, August 31, 2015

Heeft muziek evolutionair nut, of is het een zinloos tijdverdrijf? [Dutch]

Henkjan Honing (UvA) en Marc Leman (UGent) gaven een lezing in de Handelsbeurs in Gent en gingen daarna met Eos-redacteur Reinout Verbeke in gesprek. Voor meer fragmenten zie YouTube.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Interested in becoming a PA @ MCG?

The Music Cognition Group (MCG) searches for an enthusiastic and well-organized personal assistant (PA) for the Academic Year 2015/16. For more information and detailed instructions on how to apply see here
N.B. You have to be a student at UvA. 

Deadline for applications is 01 September 2015.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

What happened at RPPW15?

Participants of the 15th RPPW in Amsterdam.
Interested in what happened at the 15th edition of the Rhythm Perception and Production Workshop 2015 at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam? The programme and a photo impression will be made available at soon.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Can one trace the origins of musicality?

Update: the complete issue on Musicality (12 papers) is free to download in March 2015. See website Phil Trans B for details.

[Press release of the UvA; Dutch|English]

Why do we have music? And what enables us to perceive, appreciate and make music? The search for a possible answer to these and other questions forms the backdrop to a soon-to-be released theme issue of Philosophical Transactions, which deals with the subject of musicality. An initiative of Henkjan Honing, professor of Music Cognition at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), this theme issue will see Honing and fellow researchers present their most important empirical results and offer a joint research agenda with which to identify the biological and cognitive basis of musicality.

Researchers have long been wary of the notion that music might have a biological basis. Music was originally viewed as a cultural artifact and as something that in evolutionary terms has existed for too short a period to have shaped human perception and cognition. The question is whether it is at all possible to gain insight into the evolution of cognition, and by extension music cognition. Sceptics argue that the necessary proof will never be found because cognition doesn't fossilise (i.e. it is impossible to obtain the requisite evidence).

Music or musicality?
Honing, who is the driving force behind the theme issue, argues that the origin of musicality can most definitely be discovered by using a bottom-up approach in which one looks for the basic mechanisms that combine into a complex trait – in this case musicality. Honing: 'Many studies on the biological origin of music are centred on the question of how to define music. This raises the question, for example, whether birdsong and the song structure of humpback whales can be considered music. To address such issues effectively, however, it is important to distinguish between the notions of music and musicality. Musicality in all its complexity can be defined as a natural, spontaneously developing set of traits based on and constrained by our cognitive and biological system. Music in all its variety can be defined as a social and cultural construct based on that very musicality. This distinction allows us to search for the different constituent aspects that form the basis for the phenotype musicality.'

This bottom-up strategy serves as the starting point for a new research agenda that has been drawn up by Honing and a consortium of international experts from a wide range of disciplines, including musicology, computational cognition, anthropology and psychology. According to Honing, such a 'multicomponent' perspective on musicality will help to emphasise the latter's constituent capacities, development and neural cognitive specificity, and will throw light on the origins and evolution of musical behaviour.

Bringing together global expertise
The forthcoming theme issue of Philosophical Transactions is a direct result of a Distinguished Lorentz Fellowship that was awarded to Honing last year by the Lorentz Center and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS). This fellowship allowed Honing to bring together over twenty internationally renowned experts from the fields of cognition, biology and musicality. The theme issue will contain 11 articles on topics such as the biological basis for individual differences in musicality, the origins of musicality across species, and the principles of structure building in music, language and animal song.

The world's oldest scientific journal
As the world's longest-running scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society – which this year celebrates its 350th anniversary – publishes high-quality theme issues on topics of current importance and general interest within the life sciences. Some of its most notable contributors have included Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and, more recently, Stephen Hawking.

ResearchBlogging.orgHoning, H., ten Cate, C., Peretz, I., & Trehub, S. (2015). Without it no music: cognition, biology and evolution of musicality Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370 (1664), 20140088-20140088 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0088

ResearchBlogging.orgGingras, B., Honing, H., Peretz, I., Trainor, L., & Fisher, S. (2015). Defining the biological bases of individual differences in musicality Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370 (1664), 20140092-20140092 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0092

ResearchBlogging.orgFitch, W. (2015). Four principles of bio-musicology Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370 (1664), 20140091-20140091 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0091 Hoeschele, M., Merchant, H., Kikuchi, Y., Hattori, Y., & ten Cate, C. (2015). Searching for the origins of musicality across species Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370 (1664), 20140094-20140094 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0094

The complete theme issue (12 papers) can be found here.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Is muziek meer dan kunst alleen? [Dutch]

Vorige week verscheen het KNAW-rapport ‘Elfduizend vragen in perspectief’ van diverse, per wetenschapsgebied ingestelde jury’s die de taak hadden de bijna twaalfduizend vragen die online waren ingediend in het kader van de Nationale Wetenschapsagenda, terug te brengen tot een overzichtelijk aantal hoofdvragen. Een gigantische klus die, mede met behulp van software ontwikkeld door de groep van Piek Vossen, resulteerde in een overzichtelijke lijst: het werden er tweehonderachtenveertig. 

In de introductie van het rapport staat:
"Vanzelfsprekend zijn bepaalde gebieden binnen de geesteswetenschappen oververtegenwoordigd en andere ondervertegenwoordigd. Zo zijn er bijvoorbeeld veel aan muziek gerelateerde vragen ingediend, ook in verband met de therapeutische waarde ervan, en veel minder vragen over film, televisie en audiovisuele media."
Dat is natuurlijk, voor muziekonderzoekers, verheugend om te lezen. Kennelijk zijn er nog veel vragen –bij het publiek en in de wetenschap– over het wat, hoe en waarom van muziek. 

Tegelijkertijd is het opvallend dat in de veertig, door de jury voor de geesteswetenschappen geformuleerde vragen 'taal' bij herhaling apart genoemd wordt, en dat 'muziek' consequent onder de noemer 'kunst' gesorteerd wordt. 

Maar is muziek niet meer dan kunst, net zoals taal dat is? Het is alsof je al het taalonderzoek (van Neerlandistiek en taalwetenschap tot taalcontact en tweede taalverwerving) bij literatuurwetenschap zou onderbrengen.

Het lijkt er erg op dat de publieksvragen, en die van diverse instituten en belangengroepen, door de academische jury in de bestaande sjablonen van de universitaire faculteits- en afdelingsstructuur, en bijbehorende disciplines is gedrukt. Dat is niet noodzakelijkerwijs een verstandig idee. Die structuur is ook maar een uitkomst van allerlei strategische en politieke beslissingen in het verleden.

Ik hoop dan ook echt dat de uiteindelijke jury met open vizier blijft kijken naar wat er feitelijk gevraagd wordt door de vragenstellers, en de bestaande academische structuren even laat voor wat ze zijn.

Het KNAW juryrapport is hier te vinden.
De Nationale Wetenschapsagenda is  hier te vinden.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Further support for the Gradual Audiomotor Evolution (GAE) hypothesis?

Chimpanzees (left: Chloe, right: Cleo) conducting a finger-tapping task.
Recently four chimpanzees –all born at the Primate Reserach Institute, Kyoto University–  participated in a finger-tapping experiment, using a paradigm that have been explored for decades with humans (Repp, 2005). Two chimps, Chloe and Cleo, showed signs of synchronization, according to a study that just came out in Scientific Reports (Yu & Tomonaga, 2015). Although the results may have limitations in generalizing to chimpanzees as a species, this might be further evidence for the Gradual Audiomotor Evolution (GAE) hypothesis (Merchant & Honing, 2014).

[See also earlier blog entry]

ResearchBlogging.orgMerchant, H., & Honing, H. (2014). Are non-human primates capable of rhythmic entrainment? Evidence for the gradual audiomotor evolution hypothesis. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7 (274) 1-8. doi 10.3389/fnins.2013.00274 Repp, B. (2005). Sensorimotor synchronization: A review of the tapping literature Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12 (6), 969-992 DOI: 10.3758/BF03206433

ResearchBlogging.orgYu, L., & Tomonaga, M. (2015). Interactional synchrony in chimpanzees: Examination through a finger-tapping experiment Scientific Reports, 5 DOI: 10.1038/srep10218

Monday, April 20, 2015

Wat weten we nog niet over muziek en muzikaliteit? [Dutch]

Tot 1 mei a.s. kan iedereen via onderstaande website een vraag stellen aan de wetenschap. De overheid is voornemens de komende jaren zo'n 40 tot 50% van haar onderzoeksbudget aan deze vragen besteden. Er staan momenteel echter nog nauwelijks vragen over muziek tussen. Dat moet beter kunnen, toch?

Wat je daaraan kunt doen: a) Formuleer een wetenschappelijke vraag die naar jouw inschatting in de huidige wetenschappelijke literatuur nog niet (of nog niet goed genoeg) is beantwoord. b) Voeg een motivatie / toelichting toe (max. 200 woorden, alsook enkele kernwoorden: muziek, cognitie, hersenen, onderwijs, cultuur, etc). c) Upload je vraag naar:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Interested in a PhD at the Faculty of Science?

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) currently has a PhD position available at the Faculty of Science (4 years full-time) starting on 1 September 2015. 

Research at ILLC is interdisciplinary, and aims at bringing together insights from various disciplines concerned with information and information processing, such as logic, mathematics, computer science, linguistics, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, musicology and philosophy. Applications are invited from excellent candidates wishing to conduct research in a research area within ILLC that fits naturally in the Faculty of Science. For more information, see here

Deadline for applications is 05 May 2015.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Do an MA in Music Studies in Historic Amsterdam?

Do you want to become a Master in Music Studies at the University of Amsterdam? Find out more on our Music Studies website and go to the registration page. Deadline: 1 April 2015.