IMHSD Workshop Series: The Diverse, Musical Brain

IMHSD Workshop Series: The Diverse Musical Brain

Inspired by a recent seminar on “Decolonising Music Education” in the Reid School of Music, we are hosting a series of five workshops that aim to highlight the diversity of global music and music neuroscientists.

To date, much music neuroscience research has predominantly considered Western, European music. Our aim for these workshops is to broaden out our concept of music to include a greater variety of musical traditions. As research begins to uncover how music may be able to help with global health issues such as dementia and stroke, understanding a range of different types of musical experience is important, to take such work forward effectively.

The series will include practical and lecture workshops. Participants will have the opportunity to experience playing a range of styles of music for themselves, and speakers will be invited to consider to what extent their own research addresses non-Western musical experience. Each workshop will be followed by a 30-minute panel discussion and an informal drinks reception.

Workshop 1: Mugen Taiko Dojo

Date/Time: Friday 29 March 2019, 16.30 – 18.30

Location: Reid Concert Hall, Bristo Square, Edinburgh

Type: Practical workshop on Japanese Taiko drumming with the Mugen Taiko Dojo, followed by an interdisciplinary panel discussion.

Panel: Quinhan Chen, IMHSD Reid School of Music; Dr Sujin Hong, Neuropolitics Research Lab & Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences; Dr Katie Overy, IMHSD, Reid School of Music; Prof. Anna Williams, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine; Miyuki Williams, Mugenkyo.



Workshop 2: Indian Classical Music and Singing in the Gambia

Date/Time: Tuesday 23 April 2019, 16.30 – 18.30.

Location: Reid Concert Hall, Bristo Square, Edinburgh

Type: Lecture workshop with guest speakers from Bengalaru and London, followed by an interdisciplinary panel discussion & drinks reception.

Panel: Diljeet Bhachu, IMHSD, Reid School of Music, ECA; Dr Alec Cooper, IMHSD, Reid School of Music, ECA; Prof. Bob Ladd, Linguistics, PPLS; Dr Nikki Moran, IMHSD, Reid School of Music, ECA; Prof. Colwyn Trevarthen, Psychology, PPLS.

Lecture 1: Indian Classical Music and its traditional methods of teaching: How this can be understood and studied from a Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective

Dr. Shantala Hegde, Associate Professor and Consultant, Department of Clinical Psychology & Department of Neurorehabilitation, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, India

In this presentation I will be focussing on the origins of Indian Music, brief overview of Indian classical music, the two main branches of Indian Classical Music- The North Indian/Hindustani Tradition and The South Indian/ Carnatic Tradition. I will dwell upon various characteristics of the Indian classical music tradition, the commonalities and differences between the western classical and examine how Indian classical music can be a new vista in understanding the neural basis of music perception and cognition. Indian classical music (ICM) is one of the oldest musical traditions. It is an oral tradition. Various techniques and methods are unique to this oral method of teaching and Guru –Shishya (Teacher-student) tradition of teaching has been considered crucial since the time of its origin in the Vedic era (~5000BC). The Guru plays the key role in passing on the not just the technical knowledge of the subject but the true essence of ICM, spirituality. Systematic research on ICM and its unique methods of teaching can shed newer lights in understanding its overall benefits from a psychological and neuroscientific perspective.

Lecture 2: Maternal Music in The Gambia: Understanding Music’s Role in Maternal Mental Health

Katie Rose Sanfilippo, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths University and Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, UK

Perinatal mental health problems affect up to one in five women worldwide. Mental health problems in the perinatal period are a particular challenge in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) where they can be at least twice as frequent as in higher income countries. It is thus of high priority to develop new low-cost, low-resource, non-stigmatising and culturally appropriate approaches to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression perinatally, for the benefit of both mother and child. Music-centred approaches may be particularly useful in The Gambia since a range of musical practices that specifically engage pregnant women and new mothers already exist. In this talk, I will discuss some ongoing work where we are co-developing a singing group intervention to help decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression in Gambian pregnant women. I will discuss our findings from the preliminary work we have completed that include findings from focus groups and two mental health measurement tools. Finally, I will share some information about the current feasibility trial we are running. We hope that this talk will allow for an interesting discussion around music and global health.


Dr. Shantala Hegde, is an Associate Professor and Consultant at the Neuropsychology Unit, Department of Clinical Psychology and Consultant to the Department of Neurorehabilitation, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru.  She is the Intermediate Fellow of the prestigious Wellcome Trust UK-DBT India Alliance. She has established and currently heads the Music Cognition Laboratory at NIMHANS, the first of its kind in India. She obtained her M.Phil in Clinical Psychology and PhD in the field of Clinical Neuropsychology, both from NIMHANS. Her research interest is in the area of Clinical Neuropsychology and neuropsychological rehabilitation. Her specific focus is in the area of music perception and cognition and the application of music based intervention in neuropsychological rehabilitation. She is a trained in Neurologic Music Therapy from the International Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy.  She is also a musician (Vocalist) trained in the Hindustani Classical Music tradition and composed and sung for a music CD named ‘Uma Sahasram’ . She continues to learn under the tutelage of Smt Bharathi Prathap, disciple of the Vidushi Lalith j Rao of the Agra Atrauli Gharana.

Katie Rose Sanfilippo holds two undergraduate degrees from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She holds one BA in Music with an emphasis in vocal performance and choral conducting and another in psychology. She obtained an MSc in Music, Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2015. She spent two years working part-time as a research assistant at Nordoff Robbins and has worked with other charities, such as Choirs Beating Time and Age UK, looking at the impact of choirs on peoples’ well-being. She is currently a PhD student at Goldsmiths under the supervision for Prof. Lauren Stewart and co-supervised by Prof Vivette Glover at Imperial College London. As part of her PhD, she is investigating the impact of a community-based singing group on pregnant women’s mental health symptoms in The Gambia.


Workshop 3: Ugandan amadinda and percussion, with Andy Cooke and Rise Kagona

Date/Time: Thursday 6 June 2019, 16.30 – 18.30.

Location: Reid Concert Hall, Bristo Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG

Type: Practical workshop on Ugandan amadinda and percussion followed by interdisciplinary panel discussion.

Panel: Andy Cooke, Rise Kagona, Prof Pedro Rebelo, Queen’s University Belfast, Prof Anna Williams, MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Dr Marian Jago, University of Edinburgh.

Abstract: In this workshop we will have an experience of combining simple musical parts together to produce a rich polyphonic African sound – from Buganda in central Uganda.  The amadinda xylophone was played for centuries in the palace of the Kabaka (king). While this music is now rarely performed, the tradition was studied and transcribed by ethnomusicologists – who have also donated their original sound recordings to sound archives of an incredible music tradition of the world.  This material has played a role in helping a new generation of Ugandan musicians to revive these songs.


Andy Cooke was born in Uganda in the 60s, where his father, ethnomusicologist Dr Peter Cooke, was teaching western music and studying african music.  Curious to learn more, Andy returned with his dad in the 80s to Uganda, and became hooked on the music traditions.  Over the next decade, he became a fluent player, and went on to help musicians from Uganda visit Europe to share their music.  Since then Andy has continued to play and learn African music, and these days performs with a number of artists, including Rise Kagona.

Rise Kagona is a renowned guitarist from Zimbabwe who in the 80s and 90s led the famous group The Bhundu Boys on tours to the UK and around the world.  While his group had many ups and downs, Rise survived and is still an active musician.  He writes songs that draw on traditional styles from Zimbabwe and beyond.  Today he lives in Edinburgh and performs with his group around the UK.


Workshop 4: Rhythm, Movement and Cognition: The Yoruba Timeline as Metronome Sense for Human Movement and Cognition Development

Lecture & Workshop with Dr Olupemi Oludare, Department of Creative Arts (Music), University of Lagos, Nigeria

Date/Time: Tuesday 18 June 2019, 16.30 – 18.30.

Registration: 30 places are available

Location: Reid Concert Hall, Bristo Square, Edinburgh

Type: Lecture & practical workshop

Panel: Dr Olupemi Oludare, Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos; Prof Peter Nelson, Reid School of Music, University of Edinburgh; Dr Sujin Hong, Neuropolitics Research Lab & Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh.

Abstract: Yoruba music, like other sub-Saharan African music, exudes a preponderance of diverse rhythmic resources and patterns, with rhythm regarded as a musical and cultural element. In this lecture/practical workshop, I will be discussing how the Yoruba timeline (konkolo) serves as the principal rhythmic pattern that delineates Yoruba music. The konkolo rhythm functions as the musical and cultural identity of Yoruba music, which is the bedrock of the stylistic form of each musical genre. I will be demonstrating how the konkolo rhythm generates the two principal rhythmic classifications of Yoruba music – the woro and highlife styles. I will also highlight how the Yoruba musicians, dancers and audience are able to engage the music’s intrinsic rhythm acoustically and subjectively through the metronome sense and as an artistic and social expression.

Traditionally, rhythm is first learnt by the Yoruba musicians because each musical genre and instrument has its unique rhythm. They learn how to play, sing and move to the rhythmic styles, consequently gaining motor, speech and cognitive skills.  In Yoruba culture, parents often enroll their children with the master musicians, for the purpose of gaining these skills, through the indigenous knowledge system of apprenticeship. The master musicians therefore function not only as music pedagogues, but also provide speech, movement and cognitive therapy. This supports the narrative that rhythm is connected with human mind and brain, as it is intimately associated with movement, language and potential educational and therapeutic benefits. The systematic research of non-Western musical traditions will contribute immensely towards the diversity of global music in human and social development.

Biography: Olupemi Oludare obtained his Ph.D. (2016) from University of Lagos. His area of specialization is musicology, theory and analysis and ethno-musicology. His research interest includes the musical and cultural analysis of rhythm in West African music and in the diaspora and music in human and social development. His inter-disciplinary research, which includes music and gender, language, indigenous knowledge systems and identity, has been presented at several international conferences and published in reputable journals. He also contributed to the Bloomsbury Encyclopaedia for popular music of the world. Olupemi is a practicing musician, music director and composer, with his compositions orchestrated for both Western and African vocal and instrumental medium and winning composition awards. He is currently a music lecturer at the department of creative arts, University of Lagos and the conductor of the University orchestra.




Workshop 5: Implicit and Explicit Musical Learning – What and How in the Brain?

Prof. Mari Tervaniemi, Cicero Learning, Faculty of Educational Sciences and Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki

Date/Time: Tuesday 30th July 2019, 16.30 – 18.30

New Location! Lecture Room A, Reid School of Music, 12 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh

Type: Lecture, followed by an interdisciplinary panel discussion and informal drinks reception

Registration: Everyone is welcome to attend but please register via Eventbrite

Panel: Dr Thomas Bak, Human Cognitive Neuroscience, PPLS, University of Edinburgh; Dr Emma Moore, NSPCC, Glasgow; Dr Sujin Hong, Neuropolitics Research Lab & Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences; Dr Katie Overy, IMHSD, Reid School of Music.

Abstract: In my talk, I will introduce brain data about the imprints of implicit and explicit musical expertise. I will also introduce the transfer effects of music learning in terms of near and far transfer. While the current empirical evidence has been collected in the context of Western musical culture, the implications to other musical cultures will be discussed.

Biography: Mari Tervaniemi obtained her PhD in psychology in 1997 in the University of Helsinki about auditory neurocognition and musical expertise. In addition to Helsinki where she has a permanent position as a senior lecturer of neuropsychology, she has worked at the University of Jyväskylä as a professor and in Leipzig as a visiting Marie Curie fellow. Now she works as the research director in Cicero Learning, Faculty of Educational Sciences and as the co-director of Cognitive Brain Research Unit together with Professor Teija Kujala.

Her research topics cover auditory learning as well as the brain basis of musical expertise and music emotions. Of particular interest for her is to apply knowledge acquired within the framework of basic science into neurorehabilitation as well as to education and special education.

She has published over 170 articles in international refereed journals (e.g., Learning and Individual Differences, Brain, Scientific Reports, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Journal of Neuroscience, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Music Perception). She serves in several editorial boards and acts frequently as a reviewer for international journals and funding agencies in the fields of neurosciences, psychology, and music.

This Workshop Series is supported by the Institute for Academic Development (IAD) Action Fund.