Toiviainen, Petri: CoE in Interdisciplinary Music Research

Research at the CoE was concerned with the way that people listen to music, experience music and present and perform music. Special areas of interest included the perception and learning of music, musical emotions and the connections between music and movement.

The CoE’s research focuses covered a wide range of current issues. One of them was the manifestation at the neural level of emotions and other processes associated with the experiencing of music. Other areas of interest included the associations between music and bodiliness and the development of computer systems for the analysis and classification of music and musical movement.

Many of the CoE’s research interests tied in closely with the role of music in promoting wellbeing. Examples included the cognitive, emotional and motor effects of music therapy rehabilitation, the use of technology for the advancement of musical expression in different diagnostic groups, the occurrence and prevention of stage fright in musicians, the use of music in controlling emotions and the role of music in learning a foreign language.

The range of scientific expertise represented at the CoE was quite unique in the field of music research. Among the disciplines represented were musicology, music therapy, psychology, cognitive science, computer science, physics and biology.

Research aims

Research at the CoE was aimed at exploring and describing the way that people process musical information. Questions of special interest included the following: How do musical skills develop? How does music therapy rehabilitation work? What lies at the heart of musical emotions? How does the choice of teaching method affect the learning of an instrument? How is bodiliness manifested in the perception of music and musical communication? How can music be used to promote the learning of a foreign language? How does stage fright appear in musicians and how could it be prevented?

Research at the CoE was experimental and took advantage of sophisticated modern technologies, such as brain imaging and motion detection devices as well as computer modelling.

The results have several potential areas of application. For instance, they can be used to develop more effective methods of music therapy rehabilitation. One of the uses for new musical interfaces in music therapy is to facilitate musical expression among people with limited movement. The new methods of computational music analysis developed at the CoE have application in the music industry, for instance in various search engines based on musical content. Furthermore, the results may pave the way to new applications in the teaching of foreign languages and music.


The CoE was headed by Professor Petri Toiviainen from the University of Jyväskylä Department of Music. Professor Toiviainen specialises in modelling the cognitive processes involved in music perception and in computational methods of music analysis. He has published extensively in leading scientific journals in this field and is a member of editorial boards for several international journals.

The CoE consisted of two research teams, i.e. the Music Cognition Team at the University of Jyväskylä Department of Music; and the Brain and Music Team at the University of Helsinki Department of Psychology.

The CoE had a staff of 27.

Last modified 22 Oct 2015
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