John F. Bailyn (Stony Brook University) & Martin Rohrmeier (École Féderale Polytechnique de Lausanne)

Cog C: The Grammar of Music

Martin Rohrmeier (Digital Musicology at the École Féderale Polytechnique de Lausanne) John Frederick Bailyn (Stony Brook University)

In recent years, the field of music cognition has witnessed an immense growth and the cognitive link between music and language has been subject to various debates across disciplines. One particular domain, in which similarities between music and language has been frequently discussed, concerns the cognitive “grammatical” principles of musical structure building.

In this seminar, after a brief general introduction to the study of Music as a cognitive system, we will discuss two approaches to the grammar of music, the well-known “GTTM” model (Lerdahl & Jackendoff 1983), and the more recent “top-down” model of Rohrmeier 2020.  We will discuss basic music theoretical principles, the underlying formal models, and their cognitive, computational and philosophical foundations.

We will also discuss the controversial and related topics in musical cognition of acquisition of musical abilities in childhood, and evolution of music.  

This seminar requires basic musical knowledge - the ability to play some instrument and/or read musical notation. It is intended for those interested in music, language, and cognitive science of mind. Some formal training in linguistics is also a plus.