Dr. Schutz publishes an article in Frontiers in Psychology

  Pitch and timing are cues used to convey emotion in both music and speech. This focused review explores how these cues interact with a third musical cue, modality, and what the implications are for creating music that sounds happy or sad. The review is titled “Acoustic constraints and musical consequences: Exploring composers’ use of cues for musical emotion”, and it features a previous paper by Dr. Schutz that was selected as one of the top 100 articles of 2015 (out of 12,000 total submissions)!  

Acoustics Week in Canada 2017

Guelph, ON

  Maxwell co-authored a presentation titled “Seeing Sound: A New Tool for Teaching Music Perception Principles.”  Lab alumna Jess co-authored a presentation titled “Surveying the sounds used in auditory perception research: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.” Both presentations happened in Guelph, ON for Acoustics Week in Canada on October 11th to 13th. For more information on the lab’s recent publications and presentations, visit our Publications page!  

New book on Steve Reich debuts novel rhythmic analyses


Russell Hartenberger’s new book “Performance Practice in the Music of Steve Reich” from Cambridge University Press is now available.  As part of his comprehensive and authoritative discussion of Reich’s music, he includes the first published glimpse at a new study in which Dr. Schutz analyzed the timings of phasing in Reich’s Drumming.  

This study involved recording Russell Hartenberger and Bob Becker playing phases from the piece in McMaster’s new LIVE Lab, with technical assistance from recording guru Ray Dillard.  For a visualization of this complex data set, visit www.maplelab.net/reich.  Or for more information on Dr. Hartenberger’s new book, click here.


New paper exploring the importance of melodic structure on alarm design

Jess 2013  

Lab alumni Jess Gillard’s (MSc ‘14) paper “Composing Alarms” now appears in the latest issue of Neurocase. Her research explores the role of melodic intervals in contributing to well known issues of confusion related to auditory alarms as a tool for human computer interfaces. Standardized auditory alarms are used in a variety of medical devices as they convey important information without requiring constant visual monitoring.  However, these alarms are often confused making them less useful. Studies like this one aim to determine the factors making the alarm ineffective in order to better inform future alarm design.  

Click here to read this paper, or click here for more information on this topic.



Fiona publishes new paper in Experimental Brain Research


Dr. Fiona Manning’s (PhD ’16) latest findings are now in press at Experimental Brain Research.  The study examined rhythm perception in percussionists and non-percussionists when finger tapping to a musical beat.  Although we previously found percussionists significantly outperform non-percussionists when using a drumstick, here percussionist performance was only slightly better.  More importantly, both groups performed better when tapping with sticks than fingers – regardless of musical training.  This surprising finding raises interesting questions about past timing studies – which generally use finger tapping alone.  Our data came from our lab road trips to PASIC, funded by Dr. Schutz’s Petro Canada Young Investigator Award, and builds on our novel discovery that “moving to the beat” improves rhythm perception.  

Click here for a preprint of this paper, or click here for more information on our previous work

  Fiona Portrait


Fiona Manning Publishes new findings in Psychological Research


Although percussionists’ rhythmic expertise is widely recognized, Fiona Manning’s recent article in Psychological Research suggests this expertise may be predicated upon movement. She tested percussionists and non-percussionists’ rhythm perception in two conditions: with or without movement. Although percussionists outperformed controls when moving, their rhythm perception was no better when listening alone.  This raises interesting questions about interactions between musical expertise, movement, and rhythm.  Click here to view the article on Springer’s site.



Canadian Acoustics article reviewing amplitude envelope research

Canadian Acoustis June 2016We have documented several surprising findings related to the role of amplitude envelope in auditory processing in recent years.  From sensory integration to audio-visual association and even duration processing, the simplistic amplitude invariant sounds dominant in auditory research fail to generalize to sounds synthesized with the types of rapid changes common in natural sounds. 

In  this special issue of Canadian Acoustics, Dr. Schutz overviews a series of the lab’s recent findings on the crucial role of amplitude envelope in auditory processing. He also discusses the important implications of this work for a variety of applied situations, including the design of auditory alarms in medical devices which have not yet realized their potential for improving patient monitoring in hospital settings.

Lorraine Chuen Publishes Her MSc Thesis In Attention, Perception & Psychophysics

How does the perceptual system identify which sights and sounds should be integrated?  Although traditional explanations focus primarily on coincidence in space and time, evidence is now emerging for the role of context/congruency.  Yet previous research suggests this role is confined to speech  (Vatakis & Spence, 2008).lorrainechuen_pic

Lorraine Chuen provided novel evidence that this process is also invoked when hearing musical sounds using videos pairing cello and marimba notes with either matched (i.e., cello/cello) or mismatched (i.e., cello/marimba) gestures. By documenting the importance of amplitude envelope in evoking the “unity assumption” in non-speech sounds, she provided an intriguing expansion of the lab’s contributions to our understanding of this important acoustic property.  This is now available from our publications page.

Influence of Amplitude Envelope on Memory published in Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

QJEP CoverDr. Schutz now has an article in press in Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (QJEP) in collaboration with Dr. Jeanine Stefanucci (University of Utah), Sarah Baum and Amber Roth (College of William & Mary). This study explores the role of amplitude envelope in learning and memory, identifying considerations important in designing auditory and associative memory psychological research.

The study focused on comparing the differences between “flat”, “percussive”, and “reverse percussive” tones (see our demo for an example). Through a number of different experiments, participants were asked to learn associations between physical objects and one of the three types of tones. They hypothesized that participants hearing percussive tones would have better recall performance when remembering those object-sound associations than when hearing reverse-percussive or flat tones. Throughout four experiments, participants hearing percussive tones repeatedly outperformed participants hearing flat or reverse percussive tones.

New chapter summarizing practical benefits of scientific research in the latest Cambridge Companion

CC-to-PercussionThe latest offering in Cambridge University Press’s acclaimed series on musical topics, the Cambridge Companion to Percussion discusses the evolution of percussion from historical, scientific, academic, and applied perspectives. Edited by noted percussionist Dr. Russell Hartenberger, this book includes contributions from many of today’s leading performers and composers including William L. Cahn, William Moersch, Garry Kvistad, Rick Mattingly, Colin Currie, Aiyun Huang, Russell Hartenberger, Steven Schick, Bob Becker, Steve Reich, Peter Erskine, B. Michael Williams, Adam Sliwinski, and Michael Bakan (a complete list appears at the link below).

Dr. Schutz’s chapter Lessons from the laboratory: The musical translation of scientific research on movement summarizes numerous studies on movement and music, emphasizing their practical implications for percussion performance and pedagogy. The chapter offers a plain language discussion of how to best use scientific research on movements to improve performance and pedagogy. The book is scheduled for release in North America in May 2016. Click here for more information.