Perceptual Inquiries on Contemporary Music Pitch and Time

  • Research
  • Seminars

Perceptual Inquiries on Contemporary Music: Reconstructing musical features from neural and cardiovascular signals & pitch distractions in temporal processing.

The Mercredis de STMS on 14 June will be devoted to Emily Graber who will present several studies which have been carried out during her Marie-Curie postdoctoral fellowship at STMS (Ircam, Sorbonne Université, CNRS, Ministère de la Culture). These studies are about physiological responses to Contemporary Classic Music (CCM), perceptual phenomenon that may impact engagement with CCM, and appreciation for CCM. A few words will also be said by Lola-Marie Ferly on the part of the research where she contributed.

For solo piano works, a baseline survey of non-specialized listeners showed that CCM is less liked than classical music, and even sub-second clips were judged as less liked than classical music. Physiological recordings made from the heart and brain as participants listened to 15-minute musical excerpts, showed that the loudness profiles of the music can be decoded from the biological signals for both classical and CCM. In another study, Emily and Lola explored whether temporal expectations may be disrupted by pitch content, and if sensorimotor synchronization, or tapping in coordination to the beat, can restore temporal expectations and facilitate the detection of temporal nuances in CCM-like stimuli. Finally, Emily will discuss an upcoming study on how beat information can be conveyed to the listener via audio, haptics, or interactive tapping, and how the delivery mode of beat information can influence temporal expectations and positive engagement with CCM.

The seminar will take place in the Salle Stravinsky at Ircam, but can also be followed live on Ircam's YouTube channel:


Emily Graber is a researcher and musician and current Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at IRCAM. Her project, EAR Stretch, focuses on augmenting enjoyment of contemporary music through active tempo control, evaluated by physiological signals. Emily will be joining the faculty of Allegheny College in the Fall 2023.

Emily previously studied violin performance and physics at the University of Michigan, then received her PhD at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics in 2018. Her doctoral research with Takako Fujioka focused on how performers and listeners anticipate and experience musical tempo changes. Following her PhD, Emily was a postdoctoral fellow at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, where she examined how interactive musical training assists in rehabilitating speech processing in deaf adults with cochlear implants.

Lola-Marie Ferly is an M1 graduate student in Integrative Biology and Physiology at Sorbonne University. She specializes in neuroscience and is completing an internship at the STMS lab in IRCAM to unite her interests in neuroscience and music. Lola-Marie is supervised by Emily Graber.

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