Science & Music

In this focus

This weekly series explores what the latest scientific research has to say about music – what it is, why we make it, how we make it, why we listen to it and how it is changing. Nine opinion pieces from leading world experts working at the interface between science and music discuss how the latest developments in physics, psychology, materials science, information science, neuroscience and anthropology might give us new answers to these ancient questions.

Credit: David Parkins




Science & Music: Bountiful noise

Whether in music or in nature, noise can be full of riches. The trick is to recognize the treasures.

Nature 453, 134 (8 May 2008) doi:10.1038/453134a




Science & Music: The ear of the beholder

In the last of nine Essays on science and music, John Sloboda argues that researchers must study music as people actually experience it, if they are to understand how it affects thoughts and feelings.
John Sloboda

Nature 454, 32 (3 July 2008) doi:10.1038/454032a


Science & Music: Beyond the notes

The way performers shape notes brings music to life. Nicholas Cook argues that measuring these subtle changes can help us appreciate and replicate the performer's art.
Nicholas Cook

Nature 453, 1186 (26 June 2008) doi:10.1038/4531186a


Science & Music: Playing by numbers

Statistical analysis can inform the history of music, classification technologies, and our understanding of the act of composition itself, argues Dami�n Zanette.
Dami�n Zanette

Nature 453, 988 (19 June 2008) doi:10.1038/453988a


Science & Music: Raising the roof

Michael Barron explores how physics, psychology and fashion have influenced concert hall acoustics.
Michael Barron

Nature 453, 859 (12 June 2008) doi:10.1038/453859a


Science & Music: Talk of the tone

To appreciate how our species makes sense of sound we must study the brain's response to a wide variety of music, languages and musical languages, urges Aniruddh D. Patel.
Aniruddh D. Patel

Nature 453, 726 (05 June 2008) doi:10.1038/453726a


Science & Music: The neural roots of music

Laurel Trainor explains how the emotional power of music depends on the structure of the ear, and on our basic encoding of information.
Laurel Trainor

Nature 453, 598 (29 May 2008) doi:10.1038/453598a


Science & Music: Lost in music

Music provides unique opportunities for understanding both brain and culture. But globalization means that time is running out, warns David Huron, for the quest to encounter the range of possible musical minds.
David Huron

Nature 453, 456 (22 May 2008) doi:10.1038/453456a


Science & Music: The evolution of music

In the second of a nine-part essay series, Josh McDermott explores the origins of the human urge to make and hear music.
Josh McDermott

Nature 453, 287 (15 May 2008) doi:10.1038/453287a


Science & Music: Facing the music

At the heart of any scientific explanation of music is an understanding of how and why it affects us. In the first of a nine-part essay series, Philip Ball explores just how far we can hope to achieve a full scientific theory of music.
Philip Ball

Nature 453, 160 (8 May 2008) doi:10.1038/453160a