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The Ohio State University

School of Music

Methods in Empirical Music Research

A Workshop for Music Scholars

An intensive five-day workshop taught by Prof. David Huron

Monday May 18 to Friday May 22, 2015






This workshop will be of interest to anyone wishing to expand or enhance their research skills in music. Participants will learn how to design and carry out music experiments, and how to apply empirical, systematic and statistical techniques to problems in music history, analysis, performance, culture, and other topics. The workshop is designed specifically to develop practical research skills for musicians and music scholars with little or no previous background in empirical methods.

The workshop introduces participants to a number of methods, including descriptive, exploratory and questionnaire methods, field research, interview techniques, correlational and experimental methods, hypothesis testing, theory formation, and other useful research tools and concepts. Participants will also learn how to read and critique published empirical research related to music — identifying strengths and weaknesses in individual music-related studies.

The methods and tools learned by participants will be applicable to most areas of music scholarship, including performance research, music history, music analysis, theory, music psychology, education, semiotics, music sociology & anthropology, cultural policy, and other areas.

Finally, the workshop will address classic ideas in the philosophy of knowledge including postmodern critiques of empiricism. Participants will learn the advantages and disadvantages of both exploratory qualitative methods and formal quantitative methods.


The workshop objectives include the following:

  • to provide sufficient background so that participants will feel confident in beginning their own program of empirical music research
  • to communicate the main techniques and concepts in modern empirical research
  • to learn the do's and don'ts of designing experiments, assembling questionnaires, running human participants, and conducting interviews
  • to introduce participants to useful tools for music-related research
  • to provide practical research advice
  • to identify resources for continuing education in empirical musicology
  • to build critical skills when reading empirical research studies — identifying both strengths and weaknesses
  • to stimulate participants creative imaginations in posing and pursuing musical questions.

The workshop objectives are pursued through a series of activities, including lectures and demonstrations, interspersed with some twenty hands-on and group activities. Classroom activities are supplemented by readings, assignments, video materials, and follow-up online discussions.


The workshop will be held over five days, from Monday May 18 to Friday May 22. In addition, the workshop will be followed by five scheduled online events, for a further five hours of interaction.


The workshop instructor is David Huron, Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of Music at the Ohio State University. Trained as a performer with a PhD in musicology, Dr. Huron has produced more than 130 scholarly publications. In 2002 he received the Outstanding Publication Award from the Society for Music Theory. His book, Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation received the 2007 Wallace Berry Award. Among other distinctions, Dr. Huron has been the Ernest Bloch Visiting Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, the Donald Wort Lecturer at Cambridge University, and the Astor Lecturer at Oxford. Dr. Huron has delivered over 300 lectures in 25 countries, including 23 keynote conference addresses. His research has employed a wide range of methods, including perceptual and cognitive experiments, computer-based corpus studies, simulation and modeling, Internet-based surveys, and physiological and endocrine studies. In addition, his research has drawn on traditional historical, hermanuetic, and analytic methods. For the past decade, Dr. Huron has been active with ethnographic field methods, principally among various cultures in Micronesia.


Two guest lectures are schedule for the workshop this year, including lectures by Prof. Daniel Shanahan (School of Music, Louisiana State University) and by Prof. Michael Schutz (Music Department, McMaster University).


The workshop is offered through the Ohio State University Office of Distance Education and eLearning. The cost for enrollment as a non-credit students is $450. The workshop is no long able to admit participants interested in registering for graduate course credit.

The registration fee must be received via US Mail prior to May 13, or will be payable upon arrival on May 18. The registration fee includes the workshop program only. Participants are responsible for their own transporation, food and accommodation.

Make your check or money order payable to "Stanton's Sheet Music Co." and print clearly "Research Workshop" on the memo line of your check or money order. In order to ensure accurate payment processing, please be sure to indicate the participant's name in any accompanying correspondence. Payment should be mailed to:

Empirical Methods Workshop
School of Music
Ohio State University
ATTN: Mary Machuga
1866 N. College Road
Columbus, OH 43210-1310

The workshop will be conducted in the School of Music on the main campus of the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.


Accommodation is booked separately by workshop participants. Participants can choose from a variety of nearby hotels. It may be possible for participants to take advantage of low-cost student dormatory accommodation. Details regarding this latter option are pending.


For further information regarding registration and organizational matters, please contact Kirsten Nisula (nisula.1@osu.edu). For further information regarding the workshop content, please contact Dr. David Huron (huron.1@osu.edu).