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Subdivide and Conquer. brain processing of musical melody, harmony and rhythm

May 24 @ 11:00 - 13:00

Peter Vuust : Director of the Center for Music in the Brain (MIB), MSc, PhD, Prof. in Neuroscience, Dept. of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, Prof. in Music, the Royal Academy of Music,  Aarhus/Aalborg, Denmark, Bassist and composer


Music is ubiquitous across human cultures—as a source of affective and pleasurable experience, moving us both physically and emotionally—and learning to play music shapes both brain structure and function. Music processing in the brain—namely, perception of melody, harmony, and rhythm—has traditionally been studied as an auditory phenomenon using passive listening paradigms. However, when listening to music, we actively generate predictions about what is likely to happen next. This enactive aspect has led to a more complete understanding of music processing involving brain structures implicated in action, emotion, and learning.

The present talk is highlights how music perception, action, emotion, and learning all rest on the human brain’s fundamental capacity for prediction—as formulated by the predictive coding of music model and elucidates how this formulation of music perception and expertise in individuals can be extended to account for the dynamics and underlying brain mechanisms of collective music making. This sheds new light on what makes music meaningful from a neuroscientific perspective.


About Peter Vuust

Professor Peter Vuust, Ph.D. is a unique combination of a top-level jazz musician and a world class scientist. He leads the Danish National Research Foundation’s Center for Music In the Brain” and holds joint appointments as full professor at the Danish Royal Academy of Music and Dept of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University.

He has published more than 150 scientific papers in high ranking international journals, most recently the review “Music in the brain” in Nature Reviews Neuroscience (March, 2022). He uses state-of-the-art brain scanning techniques such as fMRI, PET, EEG, MEG and behavioral measures and is a world leading expert in the field of music and the brain – a research field he has single-handedly built up in Denmark as leader of the center for Music In the Brain (MIB) currently employing more than 30 researchers. Among many other grants, he has received DKK 98 million (~ US $ 15 billion) as PI, from the Danish National Research Foundation.

In addition, Prof Vuust is a renowned jazz bassist and composer; leading the Peter Vuust Quartet with Alex Riel, Lars Jansson and Ove Ingemarsson of which seven records have been released so far. He has also played on more than 100 recordings and been sideman with international jazz stars such as Lars Jansson, Tim Hagans, John Abercrombie, Dave Liebman and many more. He is the recipient of the 2009 Jazz Society of Aarhus’ “Gaffel”-prize. His album “September Song” was widely acclaimed by reviewers and received a nomination for a Danish Music Award in 2014. In 2022, he released the album “Further to Fly”, which contained jazz arrangements by Peter Vuust of the Songs of Paul Simon with unanimously excellent reviews.

As professor at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark, he has taught electric and acoustic bass as well as music theory, ear training and ensemble playing. He has given many keynote talks and masterclasses at international conferences and institutions on a wide range of topics ranging from the neuroscience of music to improvisation and composition. He has written three monograph’s “Polyrhythm and –meter in modern jazz; a study of Miles Davis’ Quintet from the 1960s”, “Music on the Brain”, and most recently a book on musical leadership.


May 24
11:00 - 13:00
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