Late breaking information



Learning rhythm and meter: The roles of statistical learning and dynamic entrainment

Colloquium Musicology
Dr. Benjamin Schultz, University of Amsterdam (Music Cognition Group)

Thursday 19 April 2018, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Temporal expectancies play a crucial role in perceiving and producing music. Rhythm learning is hypothesized to occur through the statistical learning of temporal intervals but these theories are often insensitive to aspects of beat (i.e., perceived regular pulses at multiple timescales). The dynamic attending theory states that attentional oscillations synchronize with and adapt to regularities in an auditory scene and suggests that temporal expectancies are formed more readily for rhythms that imply a beat (i.e., metrical rhythms) compared to those that do not (i.e., nonmetrical rhythms). I present two behavioural experiments that show how rhythm and meter are learned through statistical learning and beat entrainment using highly controlled metrical and nonmetrical rhythms that contain identical statistical probabilities but differ in metrical structure. Results demonstrated that metrical and nonmetrical patterns are both learned. However, only one experiment showed that metrical patterns are learned more readily than nonmetrical patterns. In both experiments, abstraction of a metrical framework was evident in the metrical condition. Overall, results indicate that rhythm learning cannot only be explained by statistical learning but also requires dynamic temporal processing (e.g., entrainment). 

Dr. Benjamin Schultz was previously a post-doctoral fellow working with Caroline Palmer from November 2012 to June 2014 and Isabelle Peretz from July 2014 to July 2015. He received a Bachelor of Arts (2006) and Bachelor of Health Sciences (2008) in Psychology from the University of Adelaide, a PhD (2013) in Auditory Psychology from the MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney (Prof. Catherine J. Stevens), and a PhD (2013) in Cognitive Psychology from the Université de Lyon 2 (Prof. Barbara Tillmann). His primary research interests include how people learn rhythmic sequences, entrain and move to the beat, and coordinate their speech and actions with others. In particular, he is interested in how people adapt the acoustic properties and the timing of sound productions in response to those of others in speech and music. Benjamin’s current projects examine the mechanisms that underlie acoustic cueing in persons with Parkinson’s Disease and other motor-related deficits (with Sonja Kotz) and plasticity (i.e., neural changes) that occur during rhythm learning (with Henkjan Honing).


Solfeggio in the Long Eighteenth Century

Music Theorist in Residence 2018
Dr. Nicholas Baragwanath, University of Nottingham 

Thursday 8 March 2018, 15:30 - 17:30

Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Each year the Vereniging voor Muziektheorie invites a guest from abroad to come to the Netherlands and Flanders to offer lectures, workshops, and seminars on a topic of choice. This year, Dr. Nicholas Baragwanath will present on:

Solfeggio in the Long Eighteenth Century

Apprenticed musicians in the eighteenth century would spend three or more years singing solfeggio before they were allowed to undertake lessons in playing an instrument, counterpoint, or composition. Solfeggio training provided the fundaments for almost every musician, regardless of their later specialism. Many thousands of their solfeggio manuscripts survive. They record compilations of sung lessons, usually conceived by a maestro and written-down for a pupil to sing, but sometimes originating in the pupil’s own improvisations. What they reveal about the art of melody is just as relevant to sonatas and concertos as arias.
To reconstruct how solfeggi were used, I will present evidence drawn from the following: (1)hitherto unremarked performance indications that regularly appear in manuscripts; (2) contemporary solmization and its founding principles; (3) a broad range of contemporary vocal repertory and singing treatises; and (4) consideration of the practical demands and pedagogical purposes of individual solfeggi.
Knowing how to “speak” galant melody explains how castratos managed to amaze audiences by singing the same aria five or six times in completely different ways, and how composers could write an opera in a matter of days. The secret lies in understanding how the same basic cantus firmi, learned in the first weeks of training, were sung for up to six years.

Following studies as a pianist, Nicholas Baragwanath completed postgraduate degrees at the University of Sussex. From 1998 he was Lecturer in Music at the University of Wellington, New Zealand, moving in 2001 to the Royal Northern College of Music, where he was Head of Postgraduate Studies and subsequently Dean of Research and Enterprise, overseeing the establishment of a new Graduate School and the introduction of PhD programmes. He joined the University of Nottingham in 2010.


Volume and Vibration. A Sound and Music History of Loudspeaker Systems, Germany circa 1930

Colloquium Musicology
PD. Dr. Jens Gerrit Papenburg
Thursday 15 March 2018, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01
For the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, the Nazis built the “Reichssportfeld“ (now: “Olympiapark Berlin”). An important part of this gigantic sport field were various loudspeaker systems, which were installed by the electroacoustic department (ELA) of the company Telefunken. In my presentation I sketch a sound and music history of these systems that is informed by cultural and media theory. For this purpose I analyse different sonic strategies employed for addressing open air stages and stadiums and other fields and rooms circa 1930. To be able to elaborate the aesthetical, political and epistemological implications of these strategies I analyse the installation, application, use and reception of the sport fields’ loudspeaker systems, its sounds between “tender outdoor music” (Carl Orff) and monumental “mass rally music“ (Friedrich Trautwein) and the development of powerful tube amplifiers and giant loudspeakers by the companies Siemens & Halske and Telefunken.
Via 1920s and 1930s loudspeaker systems, I argue, sound was conceptualised more and more as an entity with “volume”. I introduce volume as a productive and fuzzy, primarily spatial concept that is situated between physics and traditional music theory, between measurable amplitude and musical dynamics. What discourses, practices and media technologies correlated circa 1930 with a new conceptualization of sound as a voluminous entity? In the second half of the 20thcentury massive sound volumes became a central aesthetic dimension of multiple forms of popular music. By exploring sound systems of the 1920s and 1930s aspects of a pre-history of this dimension can be studied productively.

PD. Dr. Jens Gerrit Papenburg studied musicology, communication research, and economics in Berlin, obtaining his PhD in 2012 with the dissertation “Hörgeräte: Technisierung der Wahrnehmung durch Rock- und Popmusik” and his postdoctoral qualification (Habilitation) in 2016 with “‘Para-auditive’ Subjekte der populären Musik: Eine Kultur- und Mediengeschichte, 1890–1936.” In 2017, he was visiting professor at the Institute for Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media (ICAM) at Leuphana University Lüneburg, and in 2016/17 visiting professor for History and Theory of Popular Music at the Humboldt University, Berlin, where he taught and researched from 2006 to 2016 and again from October 2017.
Jens Gerrit Papenburg is the coeditor of  Sound as Popular Culture: A Research Companion (MIT Press, 2016). He cofounded the international research network “Sound in Media Culture: Aspects of a Cultural History of Sound” (funded by the German Research Foundation DFG, 2010–2016) and serves on the editorial board of Sound Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (Routledge). His research interests are popular music, culture, and media since 1890; sound studies; sonic media theory and historiography; and the history and culture of engineered music listening. 


Recreating Jimmie Blanton: A case study of HIPP in jazz

Colloquium Musicology
Matthias Heyman, University of Antwerp
Thursday 7 December 2017, 16:30 - 18:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01
Jimmie Blanton (1918–1942), best known as Duke Ellington’s bassist between 1939 and 1941, is widely regarded as one of the key figures in the development of jazz bass playing. One of the musical characteristics he has been most praised for is his tone, in particular its loudness, which has been characterised as ‘outsized’, ‘resonant’, ‘roaring’, and ‘huge’. While Brian Priestley (2009: 85) observed that tone is often ‘thought of as god-given’, I wanted to understand why and how Blanton’s tone was (perceived as being) different from that of his peers. I examined a number of possible impact factors, such as his performance technique and his instrument, but found that none of these differed significantly from those of his fellow-bassists. Eventually, I (partially) found the answer by recreating Blanton’s music.
In this presentation, I discuss a recording session by the Brussels Jazz Orchestra and myself on bass in which we recreated the circumstances of an Ellington performance in the 1930s and 1940s, both live and in the studio, in a historically informed way, for example by using a historically appropriate instrumentation, repertoire, location, recording set-up, and performance practice. The outcome revealed that certain changes in the orchestra’s seating plan were key to Blanton’s perceived superior tone. I will review the preparation, recording process, and results, drawing on a combination of visual analysis of historical photographs, complete participant observation, comparative aural analysis, and formal and informal (semi-structured) interviews with a number of the participants. In broad terms, I will demonstrate that the concept of historically informed performance practice (or HIPP) is a useful, yet underused research tool in the field of jazz studies.

Matthias Heyman is currently finalising his PhD research at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). For his research, he contextualises the bass playing of Ellingtonian Jimmie Blanton. He is a lecturer of jazz history at the Jazz Studio (Antwerp) and the LUCA School of Arts (Leuven), and in 2016–2017 he lectured jazz courses at the University of Amsterdam.


Marsilio Ficino’s Timaeus Commentary: Musical Speculations of a Renaissance Interpreter

Colloquium Musicology
Dr. Jacomien Prins, University of Warwick

Thursday 19 October 2017, 16:30 - 18:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) was one of the Renaissance’s defining scholars. Among his most important works was his Timaeus commentary. Despite the influence of Plato’s Timaeus in previous times, it was only with Ficino that the Latin West got its first complete translation. As one of the few Renaissance scholars to confront the challenges of Plato’s influential but also complex text, his commentary made Ficino the leading theoretician of the harmonics it propounds, but also an important interpreter of the ideas about music theory and practice it involves. In this paper, I address two questions central to Ficino’s interpretation of the Timaeus: why did he choose the theory of cosmic harmony from the dialogue as a matrix for his account of a physical world already undergoing radical change? And why did he want to revive Plato’s theory of the ethical power of listening? By investigating both Ficino’s interpretations of harmonics and of the physical and psychological mechanisms of perception and hearing, this paper argues that he used them above all to substantiate the biblical ideas that the world is a harmonic creation, that man is created with an immortal soul, and that the purpose of life is divine enlightenment. Furthermore, it demonstrates how Ficino revived Plato’s view of the delight taken in auditory perception to formulate a new music therapy in terms of a curious mixture of Neoplatonic and fifteenth-century scientific technical terms. Consequently, musical delight results from the correct perception of a sensory object as an imitation of divine harmonic order.
Dr. Jacomien Prins is a Global Research Fellow (GRF) at the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) and the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance (CSR) of Warwick University and an affiliated scholar at the University of Utrecht. She has worked extensively on the interaction between music theory and philosophy in the Renaissance. Her work includes 'Echoes of an Invisible World: Marsilio Ficino and Francesco Patrizi on Cosmic Order and Music Theory' (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 'Sing Aloud Harmonious Spheres: Renaissance Conceptions of Cosmic Harmony' (London: Routledge, 2017), and an edition and translation of Marsilio Ficino’s commentary on Plato’s 'Timaeus' (Harvard University Press, the 'I Tatti Renaissance Library' series (ITRL), forthcoming). She is currently working on a book project titled ‘'A Well-tempered Life’: Music, Health and Happiness in Renaissance Learning'.


Automatic pattern search in music: connecting computational methods and musicological insights

Colloquium Musicology
Dr. Anja Volk, Universiteit Utrecht

Thursday 21 September 2017, 16:30 - 18:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

In this talk I address the role of computational pattern search for helping us to scrutinize what it is that we “really know” about a specific type of music, if we consider ourselves to be musical experts. I elaborate my hypothesis that musical knowledge is often implicit, while computation enables us to make part of this knowledge explicit and evaluate it on a musical data set. I will discuss three examples of pattern search for corpus investigation, linked to the following questions: When are two folk songs considered to be similar to each other? What is a typical Ragtime and how has Ragtime evolved over time? What are typical chord patterns in popular music and how much do we agree on them? I discuss how musical experts and non-experts working together on developing computational methods can gain important insights into the specifics of a musical style, and into the implicit knowledge of musical experts.

Dr. Anja Volk holds master degrees in both Mathematics (1998) and Musicology (1996) and a PhD in the field of computational musicology (2002) from Humboldt University Berlin, Germany. Her area of specialisation is the development and application of computational and mathematical models for music research. The results of her research have substantially contributed to areas such as music information retrieval, computational musicology, digital cultural heritage, music cognition, and mathematical music theory. After two post-doc periods at the University of Southern California and Utrecht University, she has been awarded a prestigious VIDI grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research in 2010, which allowed her to start her own research group MUSIVA on the topic of music similarity. She is a board member of the International Society for Mathematics and Computation in Music (SMCM) and of the Computational advisory board of the Lorentz Center, International center for workshops in the sciences. She co-organized the launch of the Transactions of the International Society for Music Information Retrieval, the open access journal of the ISMIR society, and is serving as Editor-in-Chief for the journal's first term.


Holland Festival - George Crumb Symposium

Symposium by Holland Festival in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam
Kyle Gann - Steven Bruns - Margaret Leng Tan

Saturday 10th June 2017, 14:00 
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16

The Holland Festival and the University of Amsterdam are organising a symposium on the composer in focus, George Crumb. The keynote speaker is the musicologist, journalist and composer Kyle Gann. He wrote reviews for The Village Voice and books about John Cage and other modern American composers. He calls himself a ‘real Crumb fanatic’, and will discuss Crumb’s work and its place in the American experimental tradition of radical innovators. Another speaker is professor Steven Bruns, a distinguished George Crumb scholar from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Margaret Leng Tan, Crumb’s muse on the piano, provides an intimate portrait of the composer supplemented with musical illustrations.

Photo: Yvonne Tan
Abstract Kyle Gann:
"George Crumb's Personal Crystallization of American Postmodern Trends"

The sudden appearance of George Crumb's Black Angels and Echoes of Time and the River shook the American music world in the early 1970s with the exotically idiosyncratic soundworld they created, and even more with the stunning originality of his music-engraving skills. So personal and delicate an idiom was destined to have a short-lived influence, yet Crumb survives as an emblem of the era partly because his music drew together so many new ideas, soon adopted by others, that were poised to grant some needed relief to the previous twelve-tone saturation: the ironic quotation of pre-modern musics, the illusion of timelessness, the extended instrumental techniques, the forthright acceptance of harmonic stasis. His reputation, which seemed at one point to plummet as precipitously as it had risen, is now stabilizing as his lifelong vision comes into better focus, allowing us to hear the deep and gentle musicality behind the exoticisms.

Abstract Steven Bruns:
"The Persistence of Memory in the Music of George Crumb"

Throughout his career, George Crumb’s music explores the mysteries of musical memory in compelling, often innovative ways. This lecture suggests a way of understanding Crumb by considering central aspects of his art: timbre and extended performance techniques; allusion and quotation; symbolic notation; and gestural, choreographic elements of musical performance. Examples are drawn from Crumb’s entire oeuvre, from his first fully characteristic work, Night Music I (1963), to his recent Metamorphoses, Book I (2017). The discussion incorporates excerpts from the published scores, recorded performances, and also the compositional sketches and drafts.


Structure and interaction in Cretan leaping dances: Connecting ethnography and computational analysis

Colloquium Musicology
Dr. Andre Holzapfel, Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm

Thursday 18 May 2017, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, Room 3.01

Cretan Music is a vibrant and diverse living tradition, which – despite its identity-forming significance for the local population – is little-known to tourists and international academia. Throughout the recent decades, local musicians in Crete have spent a lot of effort to re-discover local dance tunes, and nowadays a number of almost 20 local dances are taught in various dance schools on the island. These dances differ in terms of the dancers' movements, but musically the differences are far less obvious. Corpus-based methods to analyze recordings or transcriptions in terms of tempo, rhythmic accent, and melodic phrases can provide an understanding of some characteristic traits of the dance tunes. However, the questions which are the functions of these dances in performance contexts, and how these functions interact with the observed musical structures, can only be addressed by incorporating ethnographic approaches. In my personal fieldwork I address these questions by documenting the role of specific dances in a festivity, and by conducting interviews with dancers and musicians. At the core of this research process that combines quantitative corpus analysis with ethnography is the interest in the interaction between musician and dancer. An understanding of this interaction is the key to understanding the significance of Cretan music in today's Cretan society.

Dr. Andre Holzapfel is Assistant Professor at the Media Technology and Interaction Design Department, School of Computer Science and Communication, at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm since October 1, 2016. In parallel to this background in Computer Science, he is conducting a second PhD in ethnomusicology, with a focus on dance in the island of Crete. His research at KTH is within the area of Sound and Music Computing (SMC), with his main interests being interdisciplinary approaches between SMC and (ethno)musicology, and interactive systems for music performances and rehabilitation. During his post-doctoral research, he had a strong focus on Music Information Retrieval, such as the development of beat and meter tracking in musical audio signals. The resulting expertise in rhythmic aspects of music inform his current research in SMC and ethnomusicology. Further information can be obtained from his website 


Muziek voor een begijnhof zonder kerk: zangboeken uit het Amsterdamse begijnhof rond 1600

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Dr. Ulrike Hascher-Burger, Universiteit Utrecht

Donderdag 20 april 2017, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01

Na de ‘Alteratie van Amsterdam’ in 1578 bleef het ‘Ronde Begijnhof’ als enige katholieke instelling in de stad over omdat de huizen eigendom waren van de begijnen. De begijnhofkerk echter werd in 1578 gesloten en in 1607 overgedragen aan de Engelse presbyterianen. Bijna 100 jaar lang vierden de vrouwen in de huisjes op het hof. Pas in 1671 kregen de begijnen weer een kapel.

De liturgische boeken werden in 1578 eveneens verwijderd. Twee privézangboeken uit die tijd bleven echter bewaard, naast een omvangrijk muziekboek uit het begin van de 17e eeuw voor de liturgische behoeften van een begijnhof zonder kerk. Met zijn een- tot driestemmige liturgische gezangen en geestelijke liederen was het bedoeld als aanvulling op de privézangboeken. Drie muziekboeken die veel vragen opwerpen over de muziekcultuur op het Amsterdamse begijnhof rond 1600.

Dr. Ulrike Hascher-Burger is musicologe en mediëviste. Haar specialisme zijn laatmiddeleeuwse muziekhandschriften uit de Lage Landen en Noord-Duitsland, voornamelijk uit kringen van de Moderne Devotie. Zij is als geaffilieerd onderzoeker verbonden aan de Universiteit Utrecht en voorzitter van de Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis (KVNM). Haar onderzoek naar muziekbronnen uit het begijnhof in Amsterdam rond 1600 maakt deel uit van het HERA -Project 'Sound Memories: The Musical Past in Late-Medieval and Early-Modern Europe' (SoundMe). Persoonlijke website:


A New Source for 15th-Century Song

Colloquium Musicology
Prof. dr. David Burn, KU Leuven

Thursday 16 March 2017, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, Room 3.01

In December 2015 a musical source that had been purchased at auction by a private Belgian art-dealer was brought to the Alamire Foundation in Leuven for examination. The source, it turns out, is a previously unknown late fifteenth-century chansonnier, complete and in its original cloth binding. The discovery of such a new source counts as sensational: only a very small number of similar such sources survive, and the last time that anything equivalent appeared was in 1939. In my presentation, I will present this new songbook, discussing the methods involved in coming to terms with a new musical source, and the consequent remapping of known terrain that that entails.

Prof. dr. David Burn teaches in the musicology department of the University of Leuven, and is head of the Early Music research group. His research is focussed on the later 15th and 16th centuries, with particular interest for Heinrich Isaac and his contemporaries, interactions between chant and polyphony, source-studies, and early-music analysis. He is a member of the editorial board member of the book-series Analysis in Context: Leuven Studies in Musicology, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Alamire Foundation. Together with Sarah Long, he is General Editor of the Journal of the Alamire Foundation, a journal devoted to all aspects of research and performance of music in or connected with the Low Countries during the ancient régime.