Decoding Musical Structure: Theory, Computation, and Neuroscience

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


Feb 5–9, 2023


The capacity of music to elicit powerful cognitive and emotional responses is fundamentally grounded in the organization of sounds into complex musical structures. Music researchers have long sought to understand these structures and their human perception from different disciplinary perspectives, each having its unique tradition. Most recently, music research has witnessed explosive developments in neuroscience, cognition, computational modeling, machine learning, and music theory, resulting in a multitude of new scientific methodologies suited to reveal general principles underlying musical structure. 

These fast developments, although yielding many exciting novel insights, have left the field of music research fragmented, both in terms of knowledge communication, and in terms of considerable epistemological differences between these subdisciplines. There is still little mutual agreement as to what constitutes valid research questions, methods, types of evidence, and the nature of a proper theory.

The proposed workshop aims to address these lacunae by bringing together leading scholars from each of these fields, fostering a productive cross-disciplinary dialogue by making explicit both shared goals and methodological differences. Based on the insights gained from this debate, it is planned to advance the field by establishing a set of new joint methodologies and an overarching research agenda for the interdisciplinary study of the human capacity of music.


Martin Rohrmeier (EPFL, Switzerland), Digital musicology
Peter Harrison (Cambridge, UK), Music & Science
Markus Neuwirth (Linz, Austria), Music theory


  • Claire Arthur (Atlanta, GA)
  • Dave Baker (Amsterdam)
  • Ashley Burgoyne (Amsterdam)
  • Gabriele Cecchetti (EPFL, Switzerland)
  • Tuomas Eerola (Durham, UK)
  • Mary Farbood (New York)
  • Christoph Finkenshiep (EPFL, Switzerland)
  • Xinyi Guan (EPFL, Switzerland)
  • Stefan Kölsch (Bergen)
  • Elizabeth Margulis (Princeton)
  • Eden Mikula (Cambridge, UK)
  • Fabian Moss (Würzburg)
  • Claire Pelofi (New York)
  • Yannis Rammos (EPFL, Switzerland)
  • Marcus Pearce (London, UK)
  • Anja Volk (Utrecht)


Our workshop is held in the context of the “Congressi Stefano Franscini” (CSF), which is a meeting platform of the ETH Zurich and EPFL. The venue is located at beautiful Monte Veritá, Ascona in Switzerland.

Fondazione Monte Verità

Strada Collina 84
CH-6612 Ascona
Tel. +41 91 785 40 40



Will be announced soon.