skip to primary navigationskip to content

Professor Ian Cross


Ian Cross teaches in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge, where he is Professor and Director of the Centre for Music and Science, leading a lively group of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in exploring music, its materials and its effects from a wide range of scientific perspectives.  His early research helped set the agenda for the study of music cognition;  he has since published widely in the field of music and science, from the psychoacoustics of violins to the evolutionary roots of musicality (see his Faculty web page at: His current research follows two tracks in focusing on exploring relationships between speech and music as interactive media, and on the effects of engagement in group musical activities on children's capacity for empathy. He is a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, and is also a guitarist.

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) 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 
  • 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
  • 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
  • Arild Stenberg (2017) Legibility of Musical Scores and Parallels 
with Language Reading (co-supervised with Sarah Hawkins)
  • David Greatrex (2018) The influence of temporal expectation upon sensory processing and auditory categorisation 

Departments and Institutes

Wolfson College: