What is Music?   Solving a Scientific Mystery  
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This page contains links to web sites and information likely to be of interest to anyone interested in music science.

Society for Music Perception and Cognition

A non-profit organization for researchers and others interested in music perception and cognition.


The European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music. The site includes abstracts for the journal Musicae Scientiae.


The International Foundation for Music Research was founded in 1997 to support scientific research on the relationship between music and "wellness". (Even if you are not incline to regard music therapy as the next "big thing", some of the material in their Publications section is of general interest to the music scientist.)

General Music Theory
Scientific American: Music and the Brain

This article (dated 25 October 2004) provides a good summary of the current state of play in the world of music science. It is as interesting for what it doesn't mention as for what it does mention. It is clear that the fundamental mysteries of music remain unsolved: no one knows what (if anything) created the selective pressures in favour of music (or in favour of our response to music, a possibility not specifically mentioned in the article, unless you count the "auditory cheesecake" explanation), there is no mention of what the "meaning" of music might be (an issue which necessarily relates to that of selective pressure), and there is no mention of the difficulty of finding an algorithm to calculate musicality.

Dolmetsch Music Theory & History Online

A fairly comprehensive site describing music theory and the history of music.

Music Cognition at the Ohio State University Resource Center

Lots of links relating to theory and science of music.


A site based on the theories of Joseph L.Monzo. Of particular interest is the Encyclopedia of Tuning.

Among other things this site contains ideas about lattice representations of musical scales and intervals between notes, similar to what is described in the chapters on vector theory and the 2D/3D theory in my book. My Harmonic Heptagon would appear to be an example of what Monzo calls a comma pump. (Although to be precise Monzo uses the term to describe one specific chord progression, whereas the Harmonic Heptagon is really a summary of all possible chord progressions or note sequences on the diatonic scale that can "pump out" a syntonic comma.)

Wikipedia: Music

Wikipedia is the largest open-content encyclopedia on the Web, and it's often a good starting point for learning about any topic. Note that most of the items in this web site's glossary are actually links to Wikipedia pages.


Links to books are given as Google searches.

The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music

Edited by Isabelle Peretz and Robert Zatorre (Oxford University Press, 2003)

28 papers by experts in music science and related fields. This appears to be the most recent music science book, so if something is not in here, and it hasn't appeared in science news sources since this book was published (2003), I feel safe in assuming that either it is not known to the world of music science, or if it is known then it is not regarded as being important.

Music and Emotion: Theory and Research

Edited by Patrik N. Juslin and John A. Sloboda (Oxford University Press, 2001)

20 chapters written by a number of different authors on the links between music and emotion.

The Psychology of Music (2nd edition)

Edited by Diana Deutsch (Academic Press, 2001)

18 Chapters written by various authors on the psychology of music.

Handbook of Music Psychology

Edited by Donald A. Hodges (Institute for Music Research, 1996)

12 chapters on music psychology (which presumably is much the same thing as the "psychology of music").

The Origins of Music

Edited by Nils L. Wallin, Bjorn Merker and Steven Brown (MIT Press, 2000)

26 papers delivered at a workshop on the origins of music which was held in Fiesole (near Florence, Italy) in 1997.

Emotion and Meaning in Music

Leonard B. Meyer (University of Chicago Press, 1956)

The author's views on the "meaning" of music. Meyer is a well-known academic music theorist.

Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy

Robert Jourdain (William Morrow, 1997)

A popular account of scientific knowledge and theories about music, mixed in with the author's own understanding of the subject.

Music and the Mind

Anthony Storr (Free Press, 1992)

Another approach to the subject from a psychiatrist. Storr has authored a number of other books about psychology and psychiatry.


Open source software from Paul Boersma and David Weenink of the Institute of Phonetic Sciences for "doing phonetics by computer". Licensed under the GNU General Public License.

Speech Technology & Communication Group (Software)

Open source software packages available for download include WaveSurfer, Snack and the NICO ANN toolkit.


A popular open source sound processing software package.

Tonalsoft Musica

Software for defining musical scales based on lattices.

Links Pages

Other people's links pages.

Philip Rees Music Theory Links

Philip Rees manufactures music computer systems and midi accessories.

General Music Sites

A site by Jim Paterson which makes available sheet music, midi files and MP3's of various classical and other public domain musical works. There are also some articles describing different types of music. Jim's article What is Music? makes a few points similar to those raised in my book. In particular he mentions the mysteriousness of music, he cites the quantity of money spent on music as something that needs explaining, and in his conclusion he remarks that it is not possible to define what music is.

 Copyright © 2004 Philip Dorrell   Page last updated 13 November 2004