August 2014 - News!

Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops    view all upcoming

  • Researchers and other interested people are invited to come to Linköping, Sweden for the First international meeting on Internet & Audiology, which will be held the 3-4 October 2014. This is not a typical conference as there will be no conference fee. Abstracts for short presentations (15 minutes) which present new and innovative research are invited; submission deadline is July 15, 2014    Website



  • AIRS sub-theme 3.3 researcher Dr. Amy Clements-Cortez was welcomed as the future WFMT President at the 14th World Congress of Music Therapy in Krems, Austria. "Über 1000 Musiktherapeuten aus aller Welt in Krems" by Claudia Brandt [English translation: "Over 1,000 music therapists from around the world in Krems"] Read more

Last Saturday was the 14th World Congress of Music Therapy after six days at the IMC FH Krems to a successful end. The originating from 45 countries music therapists used the varied programming intensively discourse, training and acclimatising while enjoying the unique Wachau landscape.


  • Dr. Annabel J. Cohen was interviewed by Aimee Sung for a news article in The Dartmouth about an event on 18 July. "Upcoming Hood Museum event will pair opera with visual art."   Read More

Assyrian reliefs and Schubert, American landscape and Mozart — as unlikely as the combinations are, a Hood Museum event will link art with classical music on Friday.

"Opera Inspired by Art," a walk-through event, will take the audience through the museum's first-floor gallery. After a curator introduces a piece, executive director of Lebanon-based Opera North Pamela Pantos will elaborate on the connection between visual and vocal art. Finally, Opera North singers will perform the prepared aria.


Recent Publications

  • Eugenia Costa-Giomi & Beatriz Ilari. (2014). Infants' preferential attention to sung and spoken stimuli. Journal of Research in Music Education, 62 (2): 188-194. DOI: 10.1177/0022429414530564  Link

Caregivers and early childhood teachers all over the world use singing and speech to elicit and maintain infants’ attention. Research comparing infants’ preferential attention to music and speech is inconclusive regarding their responses to these two types of auditory stimuli, with one study showing a music bias and another one indicating no differential attention. The purpose of this investigation was to study 11-month-old infants’ preferential attention to spoken and sung renditions of an unfamiliar folk song in a foreign language (n = 24). The results of an infant-controlled preference procedure showed no significant differences in attention to the two types of stimuli. The findings challenge infants’ well-documented bias for speech over nonspeech sounds and provide evidence that music, even when performed by an untrained singer, can be as effective as speech in eliciting infants’ attention.


  • Simone Falk, Tamara Rathcke, & Simone Dalla Bella. (2014). When speech sounds like music. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. DOI: 10.1037/a0036858

Repetition can boost memory and perception. However, repeating the same stimulus several times in immediate succession also induces intriguing perceptual transformations and illusions. Here, we investigate the Speech to Song Transformation (S2ST), a massed repetition effect in the auditory modality, which crosses the boundaries between language and music. In the S2ST, a phrase repeated several times shifts to being heard as sung. To better understand this unique cross-domain transformation, we examined the perceptual determinants of the S2ST, in particular the role of acoustics. In 2 Experiments, the effects of 2 pitch properties and 3 rhythmic properties on the probability and speed of occurrence of the transformation were examined. Results showed that both pitch and rhythmic properties are key features fostering the transformation. However, some properties proved to be more conducive to the S2ST than others. Stable tonal targets that allowed for the perception of a musical melody led more often and quickly to the S2ST than scalar intervals. Recurring durational contrasts arising from segmental grouping favoring a metrical interpretation of the stimulus also facilitated the S2ST. This was, however, not the case for a regular beat structure within and across repetitions. In addition, individual perceptual abilities allowed to predict the likelihood of the S2ST. Overall, the study demonstrated that repetition enables listeners to reinterpret specific prosodic features of spoken utterances in terms of musical structures. The findings underline a tight link between language and music, but they also reveal important differences in communicative functions of prosodic structure in the 2 domains.


  • Lucy M. McGarry, Jaime A. Pineda, Frank A. Russo. (2014). The role of the extended MNS in emotional and nonemotional judgments of human song. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience.

In the present study, we examined the involvement of the extended mirror neuron system (MNS)—specifically, areas that have a strong functional connection to the core system itself—during emotional and nonemotional judgments about human song. We presented participants with audiovisual recordings of sung melodic intervals (two-tone sequences) and manipulated emotion and pitch judgments while keeping the stimuli identical. Mu event-related desynchronization (ERD) was measured as an index of MNS activity, and a source localization procedure was performed on the data to isolate the brain sources contributing to this ERD. We found that emotional judgments of human song led to greater amounts of ERD than did pitch distance judgments (nonemotional), as well as control judgments related to the singer’s hair, or pitch distance judgments about a synthetic tone sequence. Our findings support and expand recent research suggesting that the extended MNS is involved to a greater extent during emotional than during nonemotional perception of human action.

  • Sean Hutchins, Pauline Larrouy-Maestri, & Isabelle Peretz. (2014). Singing ability is rooted in vocal-motor control of pitch. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.  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.

  • Partel Lippus & Jaan Ross. (2014). Temporal Variation in Singing as Interplay between Speech and Music in Estonian Songs. In Expressiveness in Music Performance: Empirical Approaches Across Styles and Cultures. Fabian, D., Timmers, R. & Schubert, E. (Eds.).

Expressiveness in performance is often investigated and understood in terms of expression of emotion and expression of compositional structure. An underlying assumption is that music acts as a medium for conveying emotions to the listener or, alternatively, for inducing them in the listener (Juslin 2009). Musical performance is one of the means of accomplishing this--its expressiveness is related to the evocative power to exert an influence on the listener. Empirical research on performances of works of mostly nineteenth-century European classical composers (e.g. Rink 2002) has been based on the assumption that the functions of the three subjects involved in musical communication--the composer, the performer, and the listener--are different and frequently fulfilled by separate individuals. Simply put, the composer's task is to provide an overall structure to the musical work, while performers fill in the details during the course of actual performance, adding the so-called expressive component to the structure of the work created by the composer. The expressive component is manifested by micro-variations across all basic features of musical sound, including pitch, loudness, duration, and timbre (e.g. Palmer 1997).



July 2014 - News!

Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops    view all upcoming

  • Researchers and other interested people are invited to come to Linköping, Sweden for the First international meeting on Internet & Audiology, which will be held the 3-4 October 2014. This is not a typical conference as there will be no conference fee. Abstracts for short presentations (15 minutes) which present new and innovative research are invited; submission deadline is July 15, 2014    Website



  • Dr. Bing-Yi Pan is presenting a paper at The Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS) conference in early July:  Pan, B.Y., & Cohen, A.J. (2014). Music training enhances implicit imitation of timing in both music and language domains.

The AIRS Test Battery of Singing Skills was employed to explore whether music training enhances the implicit rhythm acquisition in music and language imitating. 20 musicians and 20 non-musicians were asked to repeat 17 speaking and singing pieces after voice models. Normalized rhythms (responding rhythm divided by model rhythm) were compared. Over all 17 (4 language tasks) comparisons, musicians’ mean performances were closer to the model.

Recent Publications

  • Arla J. Good, Frank A. Russo, & Jennifer Sullivan. (2014). The efficacy of singing in foreign-language learning. Psychology of Music. DOI:  10.1177/0305735614528833

This study extends the popular notion that memory for text can be supported by song to foreign-language learning. Singing can be intrinsically motivating, attention focusing, and simply enjoyable for learners of all ages. The melodic and rhythmic context of song enhances recall of native text; however, there is limited evidence that these benefits extend to foreign text. In this study, Spanish-speaking Ecuadorian children learned a novel English passage for 2 weeks. Children in a sung condition learned the passage as a song and children in the spoken condition learned the passage as an oral poem. Children were tested on their ability to recall the passage verbatim, pronounce English vowel sounds, and translate target terms from English to Spanish. As predicted, children in the sung condition outperformed children in the spoken condition in all three domains. The song advantage persevered after a 6-month delay. Findings have important implications for foreign language instruction.


  • Patrick E. Savage & Steven Brown. (2014). Mapping music: Cluster analysis of song-type frequencies within and between cultures. Ethnomusicology, 58(1), 133-155.

Understanding cross-cultural patterns of musical diversity requires some method of visualizing these patterns using maps. The traditional methods of cross-cultural comparison have been criticized for ignoring the rich diversity of musical styles that exists within each culture. We present a compromise solution in which we map the relative frequencies of different "cantogroups" (stylistic song-types) both within and between cultures. Applying this method to 259 traditional group songs from twelve indigenous peoples of Taiwan, we identified five major cantogroups, the frequencies of which varied across the twelve groups. From this information, we were able to create musical maps of Taiwan.



June 2014 - News!

Conferences, Symposiums, Workshops    view all upcoming



  • The final AIRS Student and Early Career Researcher Workshop program (27-29 June 2014 at Ryerson University, Toronto) is now available. link

    CAM00104.jpg Toronto.jpg CAM00106.jpg

  • An AIRS Symposium entitled: "Singing Across the Lifespan: Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing - A Lifespan Megaproject" organized by Laurel Young, Leader of the AIRS Sub-Theme 3.3 Singing and Health) will be presented at the 3rd meeting of the International Association of Music and Medicine (IAMM) 3:30 to 5:00 pm, Wednesday, June 25th, Walter Hall, University of Toronto Faculty of Music. The following 8 papers will be presented... link

  • The AIRS Policy & Planning Committee met at Ryerson University at the end of May. The meeting was very productive and successful in terms of progress on the project as a whole, and for planning of the book project.

P & P Committee Meeting    

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