Ohio State University
Scarlet & Grey

David Huron
School of Music
Ohio State University
Research Areas:
  • Music Cognition
  • Computational Musicology
  • Systematic Musicology
Quick links:

Tone and Voice: A Derivation of the Rules of
Voice-leading from Perceptual Principles.

(Recipient of the Society for Music Theory,
Outstanding Publication Award for 2002.)

Text for a methodology article on
Empiricism and Postmodernism

Current Research Program:

I teach and do research in the field of music cognition at the Ohio State University. I head the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory in the School of Music and am affiliated with the Center for Cognitive Science.

I would like to understand why music is so enjoyable. What precisely are music's mental attractions? My early research centered on the perceptual foundations of melody and voice-leading. I have also done research on sensory dissonance, musical similarity, and musical expectation. My work on expectation is chronicled in the book Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation published by MIT Press. Supplementary material related to the book (including sound examples) are also available online. My current research interests focus on better understanding how music evokes emotion. In 1999, I presented a series of six public lectures entitled Music and Mind: Foundations of Cognitive Musicology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Whenever possible, I emphasize cross-cultural comparisons in pursuing my research. My research has involved the analysis of Native American, Chinese, Japanese, Hasidic, Balinese, Korean, and sub-Saharan African musics. I have also carried out fieldwork in Micronesia, where I have been collecting empirical data related to globalization. I also study Western music, with a special emphasis on the music of J.S. Bach.

A component of my work has involved developing computer software for music scholarship. Since 1986, I have been engaged in the development of the Humdrum Toolkit (a general software package for music research). I hasten to add that I am a reluctant programmer: I only write computer programs when it makes my research more efficient. An example of my music-related software development is Themefinder -- a tool for identifying musical themes, programmed in collaboration with Craig Sapp.

I am regularly involved in commercial consulting, principally in the areas of music and marketing, and in Internet-based music distribution. This includes interests in music summarization, emotion characterization, and musical similarity. More recently, my consulting work has centered on "earcon" design and sonic interfaces for telephone applications. My Curriculum Vitae is available online, and provides links to publications, conference presentations, public lectures, and other web-accessible information. The OSU College of the Arts maintains an independent promotional web page giving further descriptions of my work.


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Mailing Address:

School of Music
1866 College Road
Ohio State University
Columbus, OH 43210 USA

E-mail Address:

huron.1@ösu.edü [Please ignore umlauts: they are present to foil web crawlers.]

Telephone & Fax:

(614) 688-4753 (office)
(614) 292-7321 (lab)
(614) 292-0789 (secretary)
(614) 292-1102 (shared fax)
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