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MUSICCOG 2MP3 IntrotoMusicCognition

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

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:

1)    Have a working knowledge of basic issues in acoustics & psychoacoustics, including fluency with reading waveforms and spectrograms

2)    Exhibit broad working knowledge of key concepts, theories, and empirical findings from across the field of music cognition

3)    Grasp basic contemporary research issues in the field of music cognition, including (but not limited to) those being researched at McMaster

4) Learn to identify pitches, scales, and chords in a grand staff, regardless of musical background

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:

26-Jan:            Online quizzes due (ATL).  10% of final mark

9-Feb:             Exam I (in class).  20% of final mark

14-March:       Written assignment due (beginning of class).  25% of final mark

23-March:       Exam II (in class) 20% of final mark

 TBD:               Final Exam (scheduled by the registrar).   25% of final mark


Mid-term exams (40%):  We will have two mid-term exams in the course. These exams will cover the first and second portion of the class respectively. The exams will consist of free responses to 25 questions, some of which include drawing figures (as demonstrated in class), giving short responses synthesizing points from lectures and the text, and performing basic arithmetic calculations. You are permitted (and encouraged) to work together in preparation for your exams, however the exam must be written independently.


Final exam (25%):  The final will be at a time scheduled by the registrar.  It will follow a similar format to the mid-term, and will cover material from the entire course

Note: 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 if medical documentation is provided within 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.

Written assignment (25%):  There will one written assignment for the course, consisting of a term paper no more than 5 pages (double spaced), due at the beginning of class on the date specified below.  This paper should be based on at least 3 primary empirical (i.e. containing data) academic journal articles.  Review articles, meta-analyses, webpages, Wikipedia articles, and magazine articles are not valid references.

The topic of this assignment is of your choosing, provided it falls under the broad rubric of “music cognition research.”  It is suggested (though not required) that you align this topic with one of McMaster’s many research labs/teams so that you might be able to one day explore this topic, should your interest continue. Additional information on the specifics of these project will be distributed independently.

Music notation quizzes (10%):  As part of this class you will have a chance to learn about (and/or demonstrate) your ability to read notated music.  The course website includes links to a series of online quizzes measuring your ability to read notated music and identify chords.  Quizzes can be repeated as necessary.  For those unfamiliar with musical notation, the course website contains links to several introductory music theory lessons, along with websites for “practice” of these concepts.  The practice tools will generate examples and grade them in real time.  Once you are comfortable with a particular concept, take the formal quiz on this concept in ATL.  If you are unhappy with your quiz performance, simply return to the practice site to improve your skills and then retake the quiz.

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%). Important: it is your responsibility to notify both your TA and the instructor after work is submitted to the SOTA office.  This is the only way we will learn when it has been submitted, and is essential for timely marking.

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:


















Acoustics of sound

Chapters 1-2 (1-29)




And musical spaces










Sound &

Chapter 3 (31-51)














Perception of pitch

Chapter 5 (73-93)




and melody


Quizzes due








Rhythm, timing

Chapter 6 (95-109)




and structure                       + pp. 207-215
























Practice and expertise

Chapter 10 (179-





197) + 199-207





< Reading week>





The social psychology

Chapter 12




of music










The communication

Chapter 13




of “meaning” in music        (245-259)









The communication

Chapter 14

Written paper 



of emotion in music


Due  (14th)













Exam II










Culture, evolution

Chapter 15




and “animal music”


















Other Course Information:

The course will meet at the following times: Tuesday: 10:30-11:20; Thursday 9:30-11:20 in TSH 118

Students will receive 10% of their grade no later than March 10, 2017