November 2014 - News!

Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops    view all upcoming

  • Journal of Youth Studies conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, March 30th – April 1st 2015. The conference theme is ‘Contemporary Youth, Contemporary Risks’, and the conference welcomes all with an interest in studying youth, regardless of discipline.  LINK

  • 23rd European Association for Music in Schools (EAS) Conference,  Rostock, Germany, March 25-28, 2015.  LINK

  • The Workshop on Infant Language Development (WILD) 2015, June 10-12, Stockholm, Sweden.  LINK

  • International Symposium in Learning and Teaching Music in the Twenty-First Century: The Contribution of Science and Technology (LTM21/AEM21), November 5 – 7, 2015, Schulich School of Music, McGill University, and Department of Music, Université du Québec à Montréal, Québec, Canada  LINK

  • Conference on Auditory Development (spanning cellular/molecular to behavioral levels), Aug. 14-15, 2015, University of Washington, Seattle.  Contact Dan Sanes,, for more information.

  • International Symposium on Performance Science (ISPS) 2-5 September 2015 will be hosted by Ryukoku University, Kyoto. This conference is intended to provide a platform for new research and discussion on processes of learning, training and review that enable effective performance. Specific research topics, fields of study, and methodological approaches have been left open intentionally to encourage interdisciplinary exchange.



  • Virtual voice lends itself to all kinds of music games, written or improvised, from the accompanying chorus to complex polyphony, through the solo voice singing in the style of North India, baroque Opera or contemporary music.  Chorus Digitalis is the first choir in the world composed of synthetic voices controlled in real time by graphic tablet. The synthetic voice instrument is called Cantor Digitalis. Resulting from research on the gestural control of voice synthesis initiated in 2005 by Christophe d'Alessandro, Chorus Digitalis has performed for the first time in March 2011 in Vancouver with its designers, Sylvain Le Beux, Boris Doval, Lionel Feugère and Christophe d'Alessandro. The current project is led by Lionel Feugère and Olivier Perrotin.  LINK

Cantor Digitalis Performative Singing Synthesis is an open-source software governed by the CeCILL license. For Mac OS X version 10.6 or above, the software requires the use of a computer and a graphic tablet with a stylus and a tactile function.  LINK


Recent Publications

  • Sing-a-long DVD and activity package pilot study with older adults, Clements-Cortés, Amy, Journal of Music, Technology & Education, Volume 7, Number 2, 1 October 2014.  Link

This study investigated the utilization of an original sing-a-long DVD and activity package titled ‘Sing-A-Long of the 1930s’ to engage older adults’ participation in singing and therapeutic recreation activities. Participants (n=693) included a combination of persons residing and/or working at 25 long-term care facilities, retirement homes and adult day care centres across Canada engaging in a DVD sing-a-long and activity programme for five weeks. Following this experience, participants were individually interviewed or took part in one of 25 focus groups. The results focused on participant, caregiver and DVD facilitator’s perceived benefits and indicate the DVD was successful in engaging older adults with cognitive impairment in singing, social interaction and discussion, participation in meaningful activity, reminiscence, sensory stimulation, and quality of life in aging.


  • It’s All about Confidence and How You Perceive Yourself”: Musical Perceptions of Older Adults Involved in an Intergenerational Singing Program, Jennifer Hutchison, Carol Beynon, The University of Western Ontario, Canada, September, 2014, (pdf)  Link

This study explores and identifies the perceptions of older adults involved in an intergenerational singing curriculum that brought a group of 20 seniors together with a Grade 2 class of children in one small Ontario community. During six, one-hour sessions, the seniors and children experienced a carefully-designed curriculum that explored songs across various themes that served as a vehicle in fostering dialogue, musical discourse and shared learning among the participants. At the conclusion of the program, interviews were conducted, and seniors, children, and administrators were encouraged to share their personal musical narratives and background, in addition to their experiences from and about this program.


  • Singing ability is rooted in vocal-motor control of pitch, Sean Hutchins & Pauline Larrouy-Maestri & Isabelle Peretz, The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014, DOI 10.3758/s13414-014-0732-1.  Link

The inability to vocally match a pitch can be caused by poor pitch perception or by poor vocal-motor control. Although previous studies have tried to examine the relationship between pitch perception and vocal production, they have failed to control for the timbre of the target to be matched. In the present study, we compare pitch-matching accuracy with an unfamiliar instrument (the slider) and with the voice, designed such that the slider plays back recordings of the participant’s own voice. We also measured pitch accuracy in singing a familiar melody (“Happy Birthday”) to assess the relationship between single-pitch-matching tasks and melodic singing. Our results showed that participants (all nonmusicians) were significantly better at matching recordings of their own voices with the slider than with their voice, indicating that vocal-motor control is an important limiting factor on singing ability.We also found significant correlations between the ability to sing a melody in tune and vocal pitch matching, but not pitch matching on the slider. Better melodic singers also tended to have higher quality voices (as measured by acoustic variables). These results provide important evidence about the role of vocal-motor control in poor singing ability and demonstrate that single-pitch-matching tasks can be useful in measuring general singing abilities.

October 2014 - News!

Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops    view all upcoming

  • Music Care Conference - Music Through the Lifespan, October 25, 2014, 9 am - 4:30 pm, ROSZA CENTRE, University of CalgaryLINK

  • 32nd International Conference on Psychology and the Arts will be held at the University of Malta, Valletta, Malta, June 24-28, 2015. LINK

  • Ninth Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM) 17-22 August 2015, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK. Abstract deadline 29 December 2014. NB -  Singing is one of the topic areas for submissions.  LINK

  • Shared Processing in Language and Music - What Neurocognition and Disorders Reveal", March 27th & 28th 2015, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands Extended Abstract submission deadline: October 31st 2014. Notification of acceptance: November 30th. For more information contact   LINK



  • The latest AIRS newsletter provides an update on the activities that have engaged the members of AIRS over the last months, and also includes news about our current and future research directions.  LINK

  • Congratulations to Godfrey Baldacchino, co-leader of Sub-theme 3.1 Singing and Cultural Understanding, who has been elected President of the International Small Islands Studies Association (ISISA).

  • Employment Opportunity:  Assistant Professor, Applied Voice, School of Creative and Performing Arts, University of Calgary, Alberta.   LINK


Recent Publications

  • The Acoustic Correlates of Valence Depend on Emotion Family. Michel Belyk, Steven Brown. Journal of Voice, Volume 28, Issue 4, July 2014, Pages 523.e9–523.e18. DOI: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2013.12.007.  LINK

The voice expresses a wide range of emotions through modulations of acoustic parameters such as frequency and amplitude. Although the acoustics of individual emotions are well understood, attempts to describe the acoustic correlates of broad emotional categories such as valence have yielded mixed results. In the present study, we analyzed the acoustics of emotional valence for different families of emotion. We divided emotional vocalizations into “motivational,” “moral,” and “aesthetic” families as defined by the OCC (Ortony, Clore, and Collins) model of emotion. Subjects viewed emotional scenarios and were cued to vocalize congruent exclamations in response to them, for example, “Yay!” and “Damn!”. Positive valence was weakly associated with high-pitched and loud vocalizations. However, valence interacted with emotion family for both pitch and amplitude. A general acoustic code for valence does not hold across families of emotion, whereas family-specific codes provide a more accurate description of vocal emotions. These findings are consolidated into a set of “rules of expression” relating vocal dimensions to emotion dimensions.


September 2014 - News!

Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops    view all upcoming

  • The McMaster Institute for Music & the Mind announces the 10th Annual NeuroMusic Conference: Performance, Gesture and Social Interaction in Music, to be held on Sunday, September 28, 2014 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The LiveLab is directed by AIRS co-investibator Laurel Trainor and AIRS co-investigator Steven Brown is a key collaborator. Blair Ellis is a graduate student in the MIMM Music and Neuroscience Program. Poster Abstracts deadline has been extended to September 8. Click here for a poster about this event. Click here for a PDF with the registration link

  • Ninth Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM) 17-22 August 2015, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK. Abstract deadline 29 December 2014. NB -  Singing is one of the topic areas for submissions.  Link

  • Opera and Media of the Future: October 24 & 25 2014 at Glyndebourne, Lewes, East Sussex, UK.  Link for further information on the event, including programme, registration details, etc.

    The Centre for Research in Opera and Music Theatre at the University of Sussex is pleased to announce a new research initiative to examine the challenges and opportunities of new media technologies for the future of opera. The project will be launched by a two-day event hosted by Glyndebourne Opera bringing academics, artists and opera professionals together to examine a wide range of issues from opera cinecasts and webcasts to the use of new media platforms for audience development, marketing and education, and the implications of new media for the forms of opera itself.



  • Dr. Karen Ludke who has been working on the AIRS Digital Library in a postdoctoral position is now moving on to a faculty position at Edge Hill University in the UK.  While working full-time with AIRS, Karen with team-mates Tom Germaine and Ryan Sampson created the new functional prototype  for the AIRS Digital Library  allowing for batch entry and permissions, two key functions required by the AIRS Collaboration. The system is being tested before a more general release to the AIRS community.  Karen also assisted on many other projects of AIRS including the Student Early-Career Workshop, the AIRS Multicultural Choir, AIRS Book Project,  research with Dr. Bing-Yi Pan  on the role of singing in language learning, and AIRS social media such as Twitter.  Karen will be greatly missed and fortunately she will be staying connected with AIRS.  We wish her much continued success in her new position and thank her for her many contributions to AIRS.

  • Jane Ginsborg, AIRS Co-investigator and President of ESCOM informs AIRS of the Ninth Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM)  17-22 August 2015, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK. Abstract deadline 29 December 2014. NB -  Singing is one of the topic areas for submissions.   Link

  • SSHRC Postdoctoral Opportunity - Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents  Deadline September 24   Link

Recent Publications

  • Rhythmic Priming Enhances Speech Production Abilities: Evidence From Prelingually Deaf Children.  Cason, Nia; Hidalgo, Céline; Isoard, Florence; Roman, Stéphane; Schön, Daniele. Neuropsychology, Jul 28 , 2014, DOI: 10.1037/neu0000115   Link

Objective: Following recent findings that rhythmic priming can enhance speech perception, the aim of this experiment was to investigate whether this extends to speech production. Method: The authors measured the influence of rhythmic priming on phonological production abilities in 14 hearing impaired children with hearing devices. Children had to repeat sentences that were or were not preceded by a rhythmical prime. In addition, this rhythmic prime either matched or mismatched the meter (i.e., stress contrasts) of the sentence. Results: Matching conditions resulted in a greater phonological accuracy of spoken sentences compared to baseline and mismatching conditions. Cochlear implant users were also more sensitive to rhythmic priming than hearing aid users. Conclusions: These results suggest that musical rhythmic priming can enhance phonological production in HI children via an enhanced perception of the target sentence. Overall, these findings suggest that musical rhythm engages domain-general expectations which can enhance both in perception and production of speech. 

  • Auditory Temporal Processing Skills in Musicians with Dyslexia. Paula Bishop-Liebler, Graham Welch, Martina Huss, Jennifer M. Thomson and Usha Goswami. Dislexia, vol 20, issue 3. DOI: 10.1002/dys.1479/a0036858  Link

The core cognitive difficulty in developmental dyslexia involves phonological processing, but adults and children with dyslexia also have sensory impairments. Impairments in basic auditory processing show particular links with phonological impairments, and recent studies with dyslexic children across languages reveal a relationship between auditory temporal processing and sensitivity to rhythmic timing and speech rhythm. As rhythm is explicit in music, musical training might have a beneficial effect on the auditory perception of acoustic cues to rhythm in dyslexia. Here we took advantage of the presence of musicians with and without dyslexia in musical conservatoires, comparing their auditory temporal processing abilities with those of dyslexic non-musicians matched for cognitive ability. Musicians with dyslexia showed equivalent auditory sensitivity to musicians without dyslexia and also showed equivalent rhythm perception. The data support the view that extensive rhythmic experience initiated during childhood (here in the form of music training) can affect basic auditory processing skills which are found to be deficient in individuals with dyslexia.


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