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Centre for Music and Science



Martin studied philosophy, mathematics and musicology in Bonn, Germany. He continued with an MPhil in Musicology at Cambridge, in 2004-05 and subsequently completed his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Ian Cross.  Following postdoctoral research with Prof. Uli Reich, and with Prof. Stefan Koelsch in the Cluster of Excellence "Languages of Emotion“ at the Freie Universität Berlin, he was awarded an MIT Intelligence Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow for the year 2013-14. In October 2014 he was appointed to the chair in Systematic Musicology at the Technische Universität Dresden; in 2017 he moved to the École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne to direct the Digital and Cognitive Musicology Lab.

Main research topics are music cognition, implicit learning on music & language, music informatics. Other interests lie in issues of philosophy of music and music sociology. He co-organised an international and interdisciplinary conference on Language and Music as Cognitive Systems with Prof. John Hawkins, Dr. Ian Cross and Dr. Patrick Rebuschat, which happened in Cambridge, May 2007. His MPhil thesis was based on computational statistical analyses of harmony progressions in Bach’s chorales, and further presented a probabilistic model of key induction in short harmony excerpts. In his PhD research he focused on musical acquisition and enculturation, in particular, performing experimental and computational approaches to implicit learning of musical structure. Recently, he co-organised a symposium on “Music Cognition: Learning and Processing” at the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2009) together with Dr. Patrick Rebuschat. He has worked on a probabilistic computational music model with Dr. Thore Graepel at Mircosoft Research Cambridge.

Besides his academic involvements, Martin performs notated, not-yet-notated, unnotatable music on the piano at various concerts around Cambridge, and other sunny places, such as the FIMU festival at Belfort. In a vocal Jazz duo, he accompanies Vee Barbary on the piano. He is a passionate Argentinian Tango dancer ( and varsity chess player.

Research topics

  • Music cognition and empirical musicology
  • Cognitive perspectives on music and language
  • Implicit learning and knowledge
  • Computational modelling and corpus analysis
  • Music theory and analysis
  • Philosophy of music

Organisational activities

  • Organisation of a symposium on music cognition together with Prof. Dr. Patrick Rebuschat (Georgetown University, Washington, DC) at the annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2009, Amsterdam). [Abstract]
  • Organisation of the international interdisciplinary conference “Music & Language as Cognitive Systems” with 280 participants, May 11-13, 2007 in Cambridge, together with Patrick Rebuschat (RCEAL, Cambridge), Ian Cross, John Hawkins (RCEAL, Cambridge). [Booklet]


Key publications: 


  • Rohrmeier, M. (2009). Implicit learning of musical structure: Experimental and computational
    approaches. PhD Dissertation. University of Cambridge, 2009.
  • Rohrmeier, M. (2005). Towards modelling movement in music: Analysing properties and dynamic aspects of pc set sequences in Bach’s chorales. MPhil dissertation. University of Cambridge, 2005. ISSN 1749-9194. Published as Darwin College Research Report 04.

Edited volumes

  • Rohrmeier, M. & Rebuschat, P. (2010) eds. Music cognition: learning and processing. Edited issue of invited interdisciplinary state-of-the-art reviews. Topics in Cognitive Science (TopiCS).
  • Rebuschat, P., Rohrmeier, M., Cross, I., Hawkins, J. (2010) eds. Language and Music as Cognitive Systems. Oxford University Press.


  • Rohrmeier, M., Rebuschat, P., Cross, I. (accepted). Incidental and online learning of melodic structure. Consciousness and Cognition.
  • Rohrmeier, M. & Cross, I. (2010 in press) Narmour’s principles affect implicit learning of melody. In Demorest et al. (eds.), Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition (ICMPC 2010).
  • Rohrmeier, M. & Cross, I. (2009). Tacit tonality: Implicit Learning of harmonic structure. In Louhivuori et al. (eds.), Proceedings of the 7th Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music pp. 443–452.
  • De Haas, B., Rohrmeier, M., Veltkamp, R. & Wiering, F. (2009). Modeling Harmonic Similarity Using a Generative Grammar of Tonal Harmony. In Goto et al. (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference (ISMIR 2009), pp. 549–554.
  • Salamon, J. & Rohrmeier, M. (2009). A Quantitative Evaluation of a Two Stage Retrieval Approach for a Musical Query by Example System. In Goto et al. (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference (ISMIR 2009), pp. 255–260.
  • Rohrmeier, M. (2009). Learning on the fly. Computational analyses of an unsupervised online learning effect. In Howes et al. (eds.), 9th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling – ICCM 2009, Manchester, UK.
  • Rohrmeier, M. & Cross, I. (2008). Statistical properties of harmony in Bach’s chorales. In Miyazaki, Hiraga, Adachi, Nakajima, Tsuzaki (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, pp. 619–627 .
  • Rohrmeier, M. & Woolhouse, M. (2008). Is there a relationship between pitch attraction and generative grammar in Western tonal music? In Miyazaki, Hiraga, Adachi, Nakajima, Tsuzaki (eds.), Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, pp. 628–637.
  • Rohrmeier, M. (in press), Implizites Lernen in musikalischen Kontexten. Konzepte und gegenwärtige Forschungstendenzen. In K. Heiwolt & E. Lange (eds.), Musiktheorie und Vermittlung.Schriftenreihe des Instituts für Musikpädagogik und Musiktheorie, Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt, Weimar, vol. 4.
  • Cross, I. & Rohrmeier, M. (2007). Comments on “Facilitation and Coherence Between the Dynamic and Retrospective Perception of Segmentation in Computer-Generated Music,“ by Freya Bailes and Roger T. Dean. Empirical Musicology Review, 2 (4).
  • Rohrmeier, M. (2007). A generative grammar approach to diatonic harmonic structure. In
    Spyridis, Georgaki, Kouroupetroglou, Anagnostopoulou (eds.), Proceedings of the 4th Sound and Music Computing Conference, pp. 97–100.
  • Rohrmeier, M. (2007). Modelling dynamics of key induction in harmony progressions. In Spyridis, Georgaki, Kouroupetroglou, Anagnostopoulou (eds.), Proceedings of the 4th Sound and Music
    Computing Conference
    , pp. 82–89.
  • Rohrmeier, M. (2004). Über Musik in einer sich beschleunigenden Welt. In Hartmut Rosa (ed.), fast forward – Essays zu Zeit und Beschleunigung. Standpunkte junger Forschung.Hamburg. pp. 168–179.
  • Rohrmeier, M. & Bass, T. (1999). Combinatorial circuit complexity with cryptographic applications. International summer science institute. Scientific reports. Weizmann Institute of Science. Rehovot. pp. 168–173.
Director, Digital and Cognitive Musicology Lab (DCML), École Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne (EPFL)
Professor Martin  Rohrmeier
Not available for consultancy