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MUSIC 2MC3 Psychology Of Music

Academic Year: Fall 2016

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Michael Schutz


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 424

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23159


Office Hours: by appointment (I find this is more convenient for students than having set times)

Course Objectives:

Course Objectives: The objectives of this course are:

1)    To introduce key concepts from perception and cognition of practical use to musicians

2)    Discuss ways in which music cognition research can be used to help inform current musical practices

3)    To build critical reading, writing, thinking, and research skills

4)    Introduce topics of research within the emerging field of music cognition

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Text: Tan, Pfordresher, & Harré (2010). 

Psychology of Music (2010).  The latest textbook for teaching music cognition.  Available at the campus bookstore or online through a number of retailers.

Method of Assessment:

Important dates:

            6-October:       Improving Your Practice project due

            20-October:     Exam I

            17-Nov:           Acoustic Spaces project due

            TBD:               Final Exam (scheduled by the registrar)


Grading Scale: 

Exam I                                     20%

Final Exam                              20%

Project 1                                  30%

Project II                                 30%


Note: Students in this course will have received 10% of their grade in this course by November 4, 2016.

Written assignments (60%):   There will be two written assignment for the course, the “Group analysis of practice”  project as well as the “Listening to musical spaces” project.  These assignments will be collected at the start of class on the stated due date. The purpose of these projects is to provide a structured opportunity for learning about topics in music cognition essential for musicians.  Information on the specifics of these project will be handed out separately. 

Policy for Written Work: Work should be submitted in class on the day that it is due.  Late work (not submitted during the specified class), should be turned into the SOTA office – 414 TSH (note that the office is open 9-12 and 1-4).  Late assignments will not be accepted via email without special prior arrangements.  Late work is subject to a penalty of 3% per calendar day (i.e., an assignment due on Thursday submitted the following Monday would receive a deduction of 12%). 

Grading for the class will be done according to the official McMaster University grading scale. 

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Policy for Written Work: Work should be submitted in class on the day that it is due.  Late work (not submitted during the specified class), should be turned into the SOTA office – 414 TSH (note that the office is open 9-12 and 1-4).  Late assignments will not be accepted via email without special prior arrangements.  Late work is subject to a penalty of 3% per calendar day (i.e., an assignment due on Thursday submitted the following Monday would receive a deduction of 12%). 

If you experience a sudden medical condition that prohibits you from writing the exam, it is your responsibility to notify the instructor of this by email or phone prior to the exam itself.  Under exceptional circumstances, this requirement may be waived provided a medical documentation is provided with 48 hours of the exam date.  Please note that a doctor’s note to the Dean’s office does not exempt you from writing the exam, although medical documentation will be required of anyone requesting an alternate exam time.

Missed exams: McMaster has adopted a self‐report tool, the McMaster Student Absence Form, to be used to report some (but not all) absences. The MSAF can be used, once per term, if you are absent from the university for a medical reason lasting fewer than 5 days. Longer absences or absences due to non‐medical reasons must be reported to your Faculty or Program office, with documentation. Note that relief from term work may not necessarily be granted. Please make yourself familiar with the terms of using the MSAF by going to the following web sites: and

Within 2 working days of a missed test, you must (1) send your MSAF to me ( and (2) email me to arrange a make‐up test for the work you have missed. No requests for special consideration will be accepted beyond one week from the time of the exam.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:






Introduction/ Culture




“Animal” music

Chapter 15 (281-99)







Practice, perfection

Chapter 10 (179-193)

Start recording


and musical expertise


practice logs






Multi-sensory music

Reading TBD



Watch lecture/recital









Chapter 9 (155-177)

Continue with


Education & Learning


practice logs






Social interactions

Chapter 12 (225-44)

Practice project


and Meaning in Music

Chapter 13 (245-49)

Due (Oct 6th)






Reading week




No class











Exam I








Acoustics of sound

Chapter 2 (9-29)



and musical spaces








Sound, Hearing

Chapter 4 (73-93)



And Perception








Pitch, Melody &, Timbre

Chapter 5 (73-93)










Timbre wrap-up


Acoustic spaces


Rhythm & Time

Chapter 6 (95-109)

due (Nov 17th)






Brain structure

Chapter 3 (53-70)

(NeuroMusic –


and processing


Nov 19)







Chapter 14 (261-280)

















Other Course Information:


Overview: This course will explore a number of fascinating questions, including: What do musicians need to know about psychology?  How does music ‘work’? What does it mean to “understand” music? Why does music regarded as “beautiful” in some cultures sound “painful” to our ears?  Is western tonal music “better” than other forms of music?  What is the best way to teach children music?  Does music make us smarter?

Note: topics/structure may change depending upon interests and pace, but not without prior discussion in class.  The current version will always be posted and labeled on Avenue To Learn.