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AMPS: Past Seminar Series

Past Seminar Series

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2004 Seminar Series

The Electrophysiology of “Groove”
Speaker : Neil Todd University of Manchester
Date :5th Mar


Beat induction or “groove” refers to the phenomenon whereby a metrical rhythm induces a sense of movement or pulse in a listener and which may form the basis of human compulsion for dancing. In this paper we report the results of an ERP experiment (64-channel EEG) to investigate brain events underlying beat induction. Musically trained subjects were required to listen to an anapest rhythm, consisting of three clicks, with inter-onset intervals of 500 ms, and a gap of 1000 ms, under active and passive conditions, preceded by a condition in which the stimulus was unpredictable. A further condition was added which introduced uncertainty into the presence of absence of the third click.

The results show that compared with the random unpredictable condition the N2 of the regular anapest has a distinct scalp distribution. Whereas for the random condition the N2 at about 290 ms is highly focused over FCz, the N2 for the rhythm has an additional later component at about 320 ms more laterally and centrally focussed. Prior to the missing beat in the 3rd interval there is after the N2 a small P3 followed by an N3. In the gap interval there are a series of emitted waves N1, P2, N2, P3 and N3 which appear to be an “echo” of the evoked potentials with the same labels in the 3rd interval. Random omission of the third click on 50% of trials suppresses the N2 in the third interval but enhances the following P3 and the N3. Comparing active and passive conditions indicates that pre-movement negativities (PMN) overlap spatiotemporally with the N2 for predictable stimuli consistent with the later N2 component being interpreted as a correlate of movement preparation. This interpretation is strengthened by dipole source analysis indicating a pre-motor origin of the N2. The latter part of the PMN peaks before onset of EMG and is focussed over C3, consistent with it being a motor potential. The movement is followed by a reafferance potential peaking close to the target clicks.

Overall the data are consistent with beat induction as being a form of auditory-guided action (Todd et al. 2002), even in the absence of an overt movement, substantiated in a brain circuit involving auditory, posterior parietal (PPC), premotor and prefrontal areas. This circuit may feedback into itself via frontal-temporal projections thus providing the basis for the emitted potentials. Alternatively, emitted potentials localised in auditory cortex, e.g. the N1, may be produced by “ringing” of temporal receptive fields.

Todd, N.P. McAngus, O’Boyle, D.J. and Lee, C.S. (2002) A sensory-motor theory of beat induction and temporal tracking. Psychological Research. 66, 26-39. .

Singing 'Summertime' Again and Again!
Speaker : Jane Davidson School of Music, University of Sheffield
Date :15th Mar


Drawing on social psychology theory and previous research by the author on non-verbal gestures used in musical communication, this paper will explore what jazz and classical singers do in solo performances of Summertime.

Differences in style and expressive detail enable conclusions about communicative clarity and quality to be drawn.

Practising Behaviour of Music Students with Differing Reasons for Engagement
Speaker : James Renwick School of Music & Music Education, University of N
Date :23rd Apr


Research in the 1990s delineated the crucial role of deliberate practice for the acquisition of expertise in playing a musical instrument. Work in school settings has meanwhile investigated the associations between motivational beliefs, self-regulated behaviour, and learning outcomes. This study investigates the links between motivational beliefs and self-regulated practising behaviour in children and adolescents.

The talk presents findings from a two-part longitudinal study. In stage one, 678 AMEB candidates completed a questionnaire assessing motivational beliefs and practice behaviour. One year later, 20 of these participants were followed up to observe their final preparation for the subsequent annual examination. The participants were selected on the basis of their scores on five factors emerging from an adapted version of Ryan and Connell’s Self-Regulation Questionnaire. These factors consisted of motives to strive in music learning lying along the intrinsic–extrinsic spectrum. A practice session was videotaped in each participant’s home; immediately afterwards, the recording was reviewed to elicit verbal data concerning thoughts that had occurred while practising. Our findings suggest that an internalised motivation to strive for musical goals is associated with the use of effective practice strategies.

The presentation will consist of three parts:
1. discussion of the survey analysis conducted with structural equation modelling;
2. case studies of four young people with very high or low levels of extrinsic motivation; and
3. ample time for questions and discussion.

The Performance History of Bach's D Minor Partita for Solo Violin (BWV 1004): An Analysis of Sound Recordings
Speaker : Dorottya Fabian UNSW
Date :25th Jun


The paper examines the recorded history of performing Bach's D minor solo violin partita. First it provides an overview of well over thirty versions recorded between 1928 and 2002 to outline various interpretative approaches and their stylistic characteristics. Placing these trends in their historical context, the study also summarizes typical aesthetic notions and shows how various sound- and performance analysis methods, including the use of software, may help to account for these features. Measurements of expressive means (such as rhythmic flexibilities, tone quality, vibrato and loudness) are complemented with tempo mapping, and a close study of bowing and ornamentation. The results are interpreted in terms of how historically informed approaches are distinguishable from "mainstream" 20th-century performance styles and how these interact. The findings contradict some general opinion regarding trends in tempo choices and provide evidence for a discussion of how historical playing modes can be emulated on modern instrument.

The Spectre at the Centre of the Spectral Centroid
Speaker : Emery Schubert, Joe Wolfe, Alex Tarnopolsky UNSW
Date :25th Jun


This paper investigates the dependence of perceived timbral brightness on pitch and spectral centroid for single notes and pairs of simultaneous notes. In both cases, brightness is better correlated with the spectral centroid fc than with the ratio of fc to the pitches of the notes.

Representing Beethoven Romance and sonata form in Simon Cellan Jones's 'Eroica'
Speaker : Nicholas Cook Royal Holloway, University of London
Date :19th Jul

Music, Science and Culture
Speaker : Ian Cross University of Cambridge
Date :23rd Jul


'Music' can appear to be fundamentally different things to the sciences and to musicology. For the sciences, music is complexly patterned sound or the experience of such structured sound. For current musicology and ethnomusicology, musics are indissociable from the cultural contexts in which they occur, yielding meaning-centred as opposed to structure-centred approaches. While these different conceptions of music have afforded valuable insights, the methods and, in particular, the objects of study of the sciences and of musicology seem irreconcilable. This paper will suggest that a radical redefinition of 'music' may provide ways of understanding music as both biologically-grounded structure and as culturally-embedded practice. It will investigate some of the consequences and potential implications of this radical re-definition, amongst which is the possibility that the modern human capacity for culture may have been supported and consolidated by the emergence of human musicality.

Sonification and Segmentation: The Beginnings of a Project
Speaker : Roger Dean University of Canberra
Date :24th Sep


Sonification is the representation of data as sound (in contrast to visualisation). For cognitive utility of sonification, it is often desirable to be able to detect points of transition, and do so in real-time: for example, in operating the stock markets. There is a relationship between such transitions and the segments within music. I will discuss sonification of a dataset presented for the recent International Conference on Auditory Display. This will include illustration of a platform for algorithmic generation and manipulation of sound for creative purposes (MAX/MSP). MAX/MSP can be used for generation of entirely specified digital sound textures, and their evolution. I am interested in the degree to which segmentation is detectable while such textures evolve, and what relevance the events at the interface between two segments have, by analogy with our appreciation that in classical note-centred music such surface and interfacial events are surprisingly important. I will also summarise our plans for investigating the cognition of these segmentation structures, and the possible relationship this may have with affective responses.

Collaborators involved in this work: David Worrall (PhD student working on sonification); Dr Mitchell Whitelaw, lecturer at UC, member of SCRG, co-supervisor of PhD work; Dr Hazel Smith, SCRG; Associate Professor Kate Stevens, UWS MARCS Lab. Other members of SCRG, and shortly: Dr Freya Bailes, Post-Doctoral Fellow, SCRG, funded by ARC Discovery Grant.

Do Tone Language Speakers Have Absolute Pitch?
Speaker : Denis Burnham MARCS Auditory Laboratories, UWS
Date :12th Nov



In tone languages pitch height and contour (and associated parameters) signal semantic differences independent of segmental variations. Recently, Deutsch found similarities in tone language speakers' fundamental frequency (F0) for words in the same list of words spoken on Days 1 and 2, and suggested that tone language speakers might possess perfect pitch.


To evaluate the claim that tone language speakers might possess perfect pitch, Deutsch’s experiment is repeated with two methodological variations.


Individuals (n=20 Mandarin speakers, and n = 20 Vietnamese speakers) read the same list of words on Day 1, and Day 2. Two important additions to the original form of the Deutsch experiment were as follows.
(1) Additional to tone language (Vietnamese and Mandarin) groups, non-tone language (Australian English) participants (n=20) were tested with English word lists. “Tone”, or rather intonation, was varied by some words being followed by a question mark. If tone language speakers have perfect pitch, then there should be less F0 variation between words on Days 1 and 2 by tone language speakers, than by non-tonal language speakers.
(2) Additional to Deutsch’s Fixed order procedure, Changing order groups, in which the word order in the list changed from Day 1 to 2. Half in each language group were tested on Changing, and half on Fixed order. If tone language speakers have perfect pitch, then absolute pitch of particular words on Day 1 and 2 should be similar, irrespective of whether order is fixed or changes from Day 1 to Day 2.


The absolute difference in mean pitch of words between Day 1 and Day 2 was around 1 semitone in all groups - fixed/varying, tone/non-tone. Nevertheless, the deviation was slightly less for tone language speakers (¾ of a semitone) than for non-tone-language speakers (1 semitone). This slight disadvantage for non-tone language speakers was more pronounced in the Changing order condition (Vietnamese mean = .69; English mean = 1.08) than in the Fixed order condition (Vietnamese mean = .83; English mean = 1.0) Thus both tone and non-tone language speakers hold the pitch of words spoken in lists similarly over days, but tone language speakers’ list reading is more resilient to varying list order.


The results both support and question Deutsch’s findings. In support of Deutsch, tone language speakers show less pitch variation between Day 1 and Day 2, especially when the order of words in the list is changed. On the other hand, non-tone language speakers’ variation between Day 1 and 2 is only slight, around 1 semitone. While such results cannot be taken to show that tone language speakers have perfect pitch (and that non-tone language speakers do not), it is possible that tone language speakers have better pitch correspondence in list readings than non-tone language speakers under some conditions.

Experimental Investigation of a Continuum from Audible to Infrasonic Frequencies
Speaker : David Brennan MARCS Auditory Laboratories, UWS
Date :19th Nov


The belief that musical pitch and musical time are in some way isomorphic dates back 2,500 years, however, most theories of auditory/music perception relegate pitch and time to separate perceptual domains. During the last century a number of composers have questioned the separability of pitch and time, composing instead for a continuum between pitch (the audible frequencies) and rhythm (the infrasonic frequencies).

Music is a complex perceptual form, where cause and effect are difficult to determine. It would therefore seem useful to assess this proposed continuum between pitch and time in an experimental context using simpler stimuli than those found in music performance. Three experiments are reported which investigate the hypothesis that “human beings are capable of perceiving frequency relationship between the repetition rates of perceptually fused and perceptually discrete auditory events”. The dependent variable in these experiments is the proportion of times participants identify the simpler frequency ratio between tone and tempo as more pleasant in a series of paired comparisons.

Results lend qualified support to the hypothesis and suggest that musicians and nonmusicians employ differing strategies when memorising pitch and time.