Ontario Music Educators’ Association Conference – Counterpoint ’18

On November 1st-3rd, the Ontario Music Educators Association (OMEA) held its Counterpoint 2018 conference in Hamilton, ON. MAPLE Lab graduate and undergraduate researchers attended and collected data from experienced musicians for our Emotional Piano project. Thank you to all the musicians and educators who participated in this research project at Counterpoint ’18! 


Dr. Schutz Featured on CBC’s The Nature of Things

portal_tnot_gen-headerOn December 1st the CBC debuted an episode of The Nature of Things with David Suzuki titled “I Got Rhythm: The Science of Song.”  The episode explored the science behind how music affects the body and the brain and also looked at the fascinating relationship humans have with music.  One segment featured an interview with Dr. Schutz discussing how pitch, modality, and timing cues contribute to the expression of emotion in music.  Dr. Trainor, another researcher from McMaster University, was also featured on the broadcast.  

For more information and to watch the full episode, click here.

Music Cognition lectures at the Honors Music Institute

State College, PA

Honors Music InstituteCome learn about music cognition at the Penn State Honors Music Institute! These plain language summaries of hot areas within music cognition will take place from 2:40-3:20 in Esber Hall on July 18, 19th, & 20th.  Oriented towards our exceptional high school musicians, they are also open to the Penn State Community at large and are titled:


  • Monday July 18th: Seeing Music?  What performing musicians need to know about vision and perception
  • Tuesday July 19th: Communicating emotion in music: A complex dialogue between composers, performers, and audiences
  • Wednesday July 20th: How “feeling the beat” can help improve musical rhythm

Series of talks at Vanderbilt University for Music, Mind and Society program as well as Medical Center

Nashville, TN

Music’s emotional power has long fascinated great thinkers ranging from Plato to Darwin.  One of the lab’s ongoing research projects explores the degree to which music’s ability to convey and induce emotion stems from parallels with the communication of emotion in speech.  Dr. Schutz summarized this work in a talk titled “Exploring the communication of emotion in music” as part of Vanderbilt’s new Program for Music, Mind, and Society, hosted by Dr. Reyna Gordon. For more information, click here for a video recording of the talk.

Vanderbilt_logoHe also gave two additional talks at the Vanderbilt Medical Center, discussing his research on amplitude envelope, as well as an overview of his multi-disciplinary career path as a professional percussionist with additional formal training in experimental psychology and computer science, hosted by Dr. Joseph Schlesinger.  An Interdisciplinary Jaunt from Concert Hall to Research Lab (and back!) took place at in 2301-A Vanderbilt University Hospital (VUH) from 3:30-4:30 Thursday March 31st. Dynamic Sounds and Perceptual Processes: How Music Perception and Cognition Research Influences Medical Auditory Alarms will be in 214 Rudolph Light Hall from 6:30-7:30 am on Friday April 1st.

Using Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier to explore cues used to convey emotion

Toronto, Ontario

BachExcited by developments in tuning during his lifetime, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote The Well Tempered Clavier in 1722 to explore the then-novel possibility of using all 24 major and minor keys.  Widely recognized as a landmark composition, it has captured the hearts and minds of pianists, harpsichordists, and audiences for generations.  From a music cognition perspective, it offers an ideal corpus for exploring the complex relationship between pitch height, modality, and timing – three cues known to be salient in the communication of emotion.  Dr. Schutz will discuss new insights on the communication of emotion in music taken from this landmark composition as part of the Brain, Perception & Cognition group series of talks at Ryerson University (starting at 2:30 in room 943 Jorgensen Hall).

New insights into the music of Bach and Chopin published in Frontiers in Psychology (Cognition)

Matt PoonGFrontiersreat minds ranging from Plato to Darwin have posited that music’s power to convey emotion stems in part from its parallels to emotional speech.  Matt Poon (lab alum ’12) explored this intriguing issue by working with Dr. Schutz to quantify the use of cues such as pitch height and attack rate in “balanced” corpus of major/minor key pieces – Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and Chopin’s Preludes for piano. This article now appears in a special edition of Frontiers in Psychology.

See the full article online and/or a new  tool visualizing tempo choices for Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier.

Digitizing Bach presentation at the International Musicological Society (IMS) 2015 conference

OG-iaml-imsDr. Schutz discussed a new project archiving different interpretations of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier at the IMS conference, co-hosted by the International Association of Music Libraries (IAML) society. This presentation included a debut of a new tool for interacting with a database of information related to different editions and interpretations of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier (Book 1) as part of an ongoing project on music and emotion.  The conference took place at the Julliard School in NYC, from June 21-26, 2015.

McMaster ARB funds Research and Conference travel

Dr. Schutz has been awarded two McMaster ARB grants for the lab: (1)the research grant ($6,695) providing funding to continue and expand the lab’s work on acoustic cues for communicating emotion in music and (2) The conference travel award ($825) helped to offset costs related to Dr. Schutz’s presentation at PASIC 2011 on the uses technology in percussion related research. Read more about these projects on our ARB funding page discussing each of the lab’s ARB awards. Happy sad music note


Matthew Poon wins NSERC USRA funding for music cognition research

Matthew Poon

Undergraduate student Matthew Poon received an Undergraduate Student Research Award from the faculty of Humanities to cover fifteen weeks of full-time research in the summer of 2011 ($6,000). He will use this award to continue his research on the differences in pitch height and articulation rate of major and minor precomposed musical pieces.  Click here for more information on this project.