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Centre for Music and Science



Ian Cross is now Emeritus Professor of Music & Science, having retired in 2021 as Director of the Centre for Music and Science where he led a lively group of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in exploring music, its materials and its effects from a wide range of scientific perspectives (see blogs at  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 recent research has followed three main tracks, focusing on exploring relationships between speech and music as interactive media, on the effects of engagement in group musical activities on the capacity for and expression of  empathy, and on the ways in which we engage with musical scores. He is presently Principal Investigator on a Leverhulme-funded project in the CMS entitled Score Design for Music Reading: Cognitive and Artistic Perspectives. He is an Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, and is also a guitarist.

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

  • Alexandra Lamont (1998, Faculty 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), T. W. Adorno’s critique of post-war musical composition
  • Nicola Phillips (1999), Audio-visual scene analysis: attending to music in film
  • Erica Eyrich (2001) The ‘folk-psychology’ of piano pedagogy: concentration and attention
  • Jonathan Impett (2001) Computational models for musical behaviour in interactive composition/performance systems
  • Matthew Lavy (2001) 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) The formal structure of tonal theory
  • Martin Iddon (2004) 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) Towards autonomous agents for live computer music: realtime machine listening and interactive music systems
  • Neta Spiro (2007) 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) Interval cycles and the cognition of pitch attraction in Western tonal-harmonic music
  • Matthias Seifert (2009, Judge Business School, co-supervised with Allegre HadidaIntuition and rationality in managerial decision behaviour
  • Martin Rohrmeier (2009) Implicit learning of musical structure: experimental and computational approaches
  • Elizabeth Blake (2010, Department of Archaeology) Stone “tools” as portable sound-producing objects in Upper Palaeolithic contexts: the application of an experimental study
  • Ghofur Woodruff (2010) An ecosemantic theory of musical meaning
  • Tal-Chen Rabinowitch (2012—co-supervised with Pam Burnard) Musical Group Interaction and the Development of Empathy in Children
  • Chris Nash (2012—co-supervised with Alan Blackwell), Interfaces for music composition
  • Sarah Knight (2013)  An investigation of passive entrainment, prosociality and their potential roles in persuasive oratory
  • Michelle Phillips (2013) Experience of elapsed duration during music listening and its relevance to the Golden Section debate
  • Tommi Himberg (2013) Interaction in musical time
  • Guy Hayward (2014) Singing as one: community in synchrony
  • Fernando Bravo  (2014—co-supervised with Sarah Hawkins) Human Emotion Processing through the Systematic Control of Musical Dissonance in Audiovisual Paradigms
  • Barry Ross (2014) Music, Language, and Syntactic Integration
  • Mark Gotham (2015—co-supervised with Justin London) The Metre Metrics: Characterising (dis)similarity among metrical structures
  • Andrew Goldman (2015) The Cognition of Musical Improvisation
  • Jenny Judge (2015),  Looking at Sound: Reconciling philosophical and psychological approaches to musical experience
  • Jiaxi Liu (2016—co-supervised with Sarah Hawkins) The performance and perception of violin glides
  • Li-Ching Wang (2016) Embodied music perception: Do listeners’ body movements influence their perception of rhythm?
  • Béatrice Sicouri (2016) 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—co-supervised with Sarah Hawkins) Legibility of Musical Scores and Parallels 
with Language Reading
  • David Greatrex (2018—co-supervised with Sarah Hawkins) The influence of temporal expectation upon sensory processing and auditory categorisation
  • Morgan Buckley (2018) Creative Performer Agency in the Collaborative Compositional Process
  • John Bispham (2018, Department of Biological Anthropology) The human faculty for music: what's special about it?
  • Juan Pablo Robledo (2019) Vocal-Affective Weaning and its role in musical enculturation: children’s interest in music beyond the Infant-Directed Register
  • Rebecca Whiteman (2020) Structuring social relationships: music-making and group identity
  • Erica Cao  (2021) Common time: music, empathy and a politics of care
  • Sam Leak (2023) Can Absolute Pitch be learned by adults? Evaluating the 'melody triggers' method
  • Xi Zhang (2023) Singing in Chaozhou: The Relationship between Tones and Songs
  • Dor Shilton (2024, Tel Aviv, co-supervised with Daniel Dor and Eva Jablonka) The Cultural Evolution of Music: From Participation to Performance
Professor of Music and Science
Director, Centre for Music & Science
Not available for consultancy


Departments and institutes: