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PSYC56H3 Lecture Notes - General Idea

Course Code
Mark Schmuckler

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PSYC56H3 S Spring 2008
Music Cognition
Instructor: Mark A. Schmuckler
Office: S-515
Phone: 287-7417
Office Hours: Thursday, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Course Web Site:
Teaching Assistant: Dominuqe Vuvan
Office: S-561E
Phone: 287-7429
Office Hours: Tuesday, 2:30 – 4:30 PM
Class Times and Locations: Wednesday, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM, HW 214
Course Description:
This course studies the perceptual and cognitive processing involved in the psychology of
music. The general idea is to acquaint students with the basic concepts and issues involved in the
understanding of musical passages. The focus of this course is on the perception and cognition of
musical materials, taking as its starting point the music listener as a gatherer and interpreter of
information from the environment. Topics will include aspects such as the basic physical and
psychological properties of sound, pitch perception and melodic organization, the perception of
rhythm and time, musical correlates of psychological structure, musical performance, emotion and
meaning in music, musical development, and so on.
Levitan, D. (2006). This is your brain on music: The science of a human obsession. New York: Dutton.
Levitan’s book is a very readable, extremely interesting source, although it is limited in terms
of the detail of the scientific studies conducted on the various topics. Accordingly, to supplement
this aspect of the course there will be a series of required complementary readings for each week
that will be more explicitly focussed on course content. These readings can be accessed via the
course website as downloadable PDFs.
Course Requirements and Grading:
There will be two exams in this course – a midterm and a final. The midterm will cover material
from the first half of the course, and will take place during class. The final will cover material from
the second half, and will be scheduled during finals week. Each of these exams will be worth 35% of
your final grade. In addition to these exams there will be four take-home assignments, each worth
between 7.5% of your grade. These assignments are intended to insure that you understand the
reading; if you are keeping up with the class material, there will be no problem in getting full marks
on these assignments.
PSYC56H3 S Spring 2008
Dates of Topics and Assignments
Week of Topic(s) Assignment
January 7 Introduction to class, Traditions in music psychology, the
evolution of music
January 14 Basic dimensions of sound: Pitch, loudness, and timbre
January 21 Scales and tonality
January 28 Musical key-finding Assignment #1 due
February 4 Melodic organization
February 11 Musical expectancy Assignment #2 due
February 18 Reading Week
February 25 Midterm Exam (35%)
March 3 Time, rhythm, and meter
March 10 Music performance Assignment #3 due
March 17 Musical aesthetics and emotion
March 24 Neurological aspects of music perception and performance
March 31 Musical development Assignment #4 due