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Professor Ian Cross


Ian Cross is Professor of Music & Science and is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He teaches and researches in science and music in the Faculty at Cambridge, where he is Director of the Centre for Music and Science. He is also a contributor to the University’s M.Phil in Screen, Media and Cultures. Publications include the books Musical Structure and Cognition (Academic Press, 1985) and Representing Musical Structure (Academic Press, 1991), both co-edited with Peter Howell and Robert West, the Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology (OUP, 2009), co-edited with Susan Hallam and Michael Thaut, and Language and Music as Cognitive Systems (OUP, 2012), co-edited with Patrick Rebuschat, Martin Rohrmeier, and John Hawkins.

He is involved in experimental investigations of the perception of tonal structures and of the role of culture and formal education in shaping musical cognition, and is also actively interested in exploring the general limits and constraints on scientific accounts of music as well as the relation between music and cognitive evolution. A collaboration with Jim Woodhouse, Brian Moore and Claudia Fritz in the Departments of Engineering and Psychology on a Leverhulme Trust-funded project exploring the perceptual correlates of violin acoustics led to several publications in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. He is currently collaborating with Tal-Chen Rabinowitch of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington on a Templeton Foundation-funded project exploring the relationships between group musical interaction and the development of empathy in children; another current project with Sarah Hawkins explores spontaneous interaction in speech and music, and has recently expanded to embrace a collaboration with Carlos Cornejo and Daniel Party of the Pontifical University of Chile.

He is a Trustee and committee member of the Society for Education, Music and Psychology Research (SEMPRE), a Governor of the Music Therapy Charity, whose Research Committee he chairs, is on the editorial board of Musica Humana and on the editorial advisory boards of Psychology of MusicMusic PerceptionAI & SocietyThe New Soundtrack, and Cognitive Semiotics, and from 1997 until 2000 was the Associate Editor (English language) of ESCOM’s journal Musicae Scientiae.

Ph.D dissertations supervised in the last twenty years include:

  • Alexandra Lamont (1998, Dept of Education), The development of cognitive representations of musical pitch
  • Ben Reis (1999, Computer Laboratory), Simulating music learning with autonomous listening agents
  • Martin Dixon (1999, Faculty of Music), T. W. Adorno’s critique of post-war musical composition
  • Nicola Phillips (1999, Faculty of Music), Audio-visual scene analysis: attending to music in film
  • Erica Eyrich (2001, Faculty of Music) The ‘folk-psychology’ of piano pedagogy: concentration and attention
  • Jonathan Impett (2001, Faculty of Music) Computational models for musical behaviour in interactive composition/performance systems
  • Matthew Lavy (2001, Faculty of Music) Emotion and the experience of listening to music: a framework for empirical research
  • Martin Fautley (2002, Faculty of Education) Creativity in the music class: an empirical investigation
  • Tim Horton (2003, Faculty of Music) The formal structure of tonal theory
  • Martin Iddon (2004, Faculty of Music) The dissolution of the avant-garde: Darmstadt 1968-1984
  • Iain Morley (2004, Department of Archaeology) The evolutionary origins and archaeology of music: an investigation into the prehistory of human musical capacities and behaviours
  • Nick Collins (2006, Faculty of Music) Towards autonomous agents for live computer music: realtime machine listening and interactive music systems
  • Neta Spiro (2007, University of Amsterdam) What contributes to the perception of musical phrases in western classical music?
  • Nikki Moran (2007, Open University) Measuring musical meaning: studying physically interactive communicative behaviour in North Indian classical music performance
  • Isabel Martinez (2007, University of Surrey at Roehampton) The cognitive reality of prolongational structure in tonal music
  • Matthew Woolhouse (2007, Faculty of Music) Interval cycles and the cognition of pitch attraction in Western tonal-harmonic music
  • Matthias Seifert (2009, Judge Business School, co-supervised by Allegre Hadida and Ian Cross) Intuition and rationality in managerial decision behaviour
  • Martin Rohrmeier (2009, Faculty of Music)Implicit learning of musical structure: experimental and computational approaches
  • Elizabeth Blake (2010, Department of Archaeology/CMS, co-supervised with Professor Sir Paul Mellars)Stone “tools” as portable sound-producing objects in Upper Palaeolithic contexts: the application of an experimental study
  • Ghofur Woodruff (2010, Faculty of Music) An ecosemantic theory of musical meaning
  • Tal-Chen Rabinowitch (2012, Faculty of Music) Musical Group Interaction and the Development of Empathy in Children
  • Sarah Knight (2013, Faculty of Music)  An investigation of passive entrainment, prosociality and their potential roles in persuasive oratory
  • Michelle Phillips (2013, Faculty of Music) Experience of elapsed duration during music listening and its relevance to the Golden Section debate
  • Tommi Himberg (2013, Faculty of Music) Interaction in musical time
  • Guy Hayward (2014, Faculty of Music), Singing as one: community in synchrony
  • Fernando Bravo  (2014, Faculty of Music), Human Emotion Processing through the Systematic Control of Musical Dissonance in Audiovisual Paradigms (co-supervised with Sarah Hawkins)
  • Barry Ross (2014, Faculty of Music), Music, Language, and Syntactic Integration
  • Mark Gotham (2015, Faculty of Music), The Metre Metrics: Characterising (dis)similarity among metrical structures (co-supervised with Justin London)
  • Andrew Goldman (2015, Faculty of Music), The Cognition of Musical Improvisation
  • Jenny Judge (2015, Faculty of Music),  Looking at Sound: Reconciling philosophical and psychological approaches to musical experience
  • Jiaxi Liu (2016, Faculty of Music) The performance and perception of violin glides
  • Li-Ching Wang (2016, Faculty of Music) Embodied music perception: Do listeners’ body movements influence their perception of rhythm?
  • Béatrice Sicouri (2016, Faculty of Music) Exploring the tacit realm of dyadic interplay in the piano masterclass of Maestro Michele Campanella: a case-study of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana of Siena
  • Gabriela Pavarini (2016, Department of Psychology) Synchrony and Self-Transcendence

 Current graduate students include:

Departments and Institutes

Wolfson College: