Music Theory


T561 Models of Music Cognition

Cross-Listed in Cognitive Science Program


Prof. Eric Isaacson

Class Meetings

Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-10:45 a.m.
M263 (in the William and Gayle Cook Music Library, Simon Building)

Note: I am hoping to move the course out of the TR morning block. Those registering for the course are asked to send me their schedule so I can see if a mutually satisfactory time can be arranged.

Course Description:

The course will involve the study a number of cognitive models for various aspects of music. The exact topics will be determined in part by the interests and backgrounds of the class participants, but may involve musical grammars, categorization, similarity, representation, segmentation, and Gestalt theory. Musical domains studied may include tonality, atonality, and rhythm and meter. Emphasis will be on cognitive, rather than perception or production, models. It is hoped that the course will include a balance of students within and outside of music, which will allow for some collaborative work involving "content experts" from both music and cognitive science-related areas. Students with current research interests or projects related to the course topic will be encouraged to develop or build on those.

Requirements and grading:

Readings, class discussion, individual and group presentations, and a final project.


The ability to read music is required and an understanding of the basic elements of music theory will be assumed. (If you are unsure, contact the instructor.) Students should have a fairly extensive background in one of the following areas, and some background in one or more of the others.

  • music theory

  • psychology

  • linguistics

  • artificial intelligence


None planned, though a course packet of selected readings may be assembled for purchase.