Lecture Series at Yale Explains Music's Charms

Ohio State University professor David Huron, a noted scholar on the physiological and psychological response to music, will deliver four lectures at Yale to answer a question that has long intrigued poets, scientists and philosophers: “What is it about music that affects our emotions?”

Titled “How Music Makes Us Feel: The Psychology of Auditory Affect,” the lecture series will take place on Tuesday evenings between November 7 and December 5, at 7:30 in Sudler Hall, 100 Wall St.

From November 5 through December 10, Huron will be in residence at Yale and available for open discussions with students and faculty.

The following are the titles and brief description of the lectures:

November 7: “The Good, the Bad, and the Sublime”
Patterns of physiological responses to music reveal how and why sounds evoke emotions, moods, feelings and specific mental states.

November 14: “Anticipation and Surprise”
Why the psychology of expectation and the phenomenon of surprise are central to music’s ability to evoke emotions.

November 21: “Many Musical Worlds”
How age, sex, temperament and culture are all implicated in an individual’s preferences and responses.  This lecture will explain why adolescence is important for the formation of life-long musical tastes.

December 5: “Making Music Come Alive”
Why mechanical musical performances fail to provoke strong emotional responses and how skilled performers tap into evolved brain functions that are essential for empathy.

A trained performing musician, Huron teaches in the School of Music and heads the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory for the scientific study of music at Ohio State.  He is best known for his research in music perception and cognition.  His research emphasizes music and human emotions and comparative ethnomusicology.  In addition to laboratory-based research, he conducts field studies among various cultures in Micronesia.

Since earning his doctorate in musicology from the University of Nottingham, Huron has produced some 70 scholarly publications, including two books, and given over 200 lectures and presentations at institutions around the world.  Among other distinctions, he was the Ernest Bloch Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Robert N. Freeman Distinguished Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2002 he received the Outstanding Publication Award from the Society for Music Theory.  Originally from Canada, Huron served on the faculty of the University of Waterloo, where he held concurrent positions in the departments of music, psychology and systems design engineering.  His most recent book is “Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation,” published by MIT Press.

Sponsored by the Department of Music, in collaboration with the School of Music and the Department of Psychology, the lectures are free and open to the public.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345