Carleton presents the 2019 Mellon Professorship Lecture: “Just What *IS* Musical Tempo?”

March 6, 2019
By Kou Okada '22

Carleton College presents the Mellon Professorship Lecture by Professor Justin London on Monday, March 11, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Applebaum Recital Hall at the Weitz Center for Creativity. London, Carleton’s Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Music, Cognitive Science and the Humanities, will discuss the complex nature of musical tempo perception along with topics in interdisciplinary research in a talk entitled, “Just What *IS* Musical Tempo?”

When we listen to music, within just one or two seconds, we know whether the music is fast, moderate or slow. Yet, how we do this is neither simple nor straightforward, as our sense of tempo comes from a mixture of auditory, visual and kinesthetic cues, all of which combine to produce a sense of musical speed and motion. In this lecture, a range of examples to illustrate the complex nature of tempo perception will be presented, along with a broader reflection on how interdisciplinary research can shed light on basic questions in both science and art.

London's primary research area is in the perception and cognition of musical rhythm. Specifically, this includes the perceptual “speed limits” for rhythmic patterns, musical meter and its relationship to sensorimotor entrainment, and the factors that influence our perception of tempo. He is an affiliated researcher with the Centre for Music and Science at the University of Cambridge, where he pursues joint research with Ian Cross and Sarah Hawkins, and he is currently involved in the study of microtiming in African Drumming with Rainer Polak (Hochschule für Musik und Tanz, Köln). His book Hearing in Time is a cross-cultural study of the psychological aspects of musical meter.

London received his B.M. degree in classical guitar and his M.M. degree in music theory from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and he holds a PhD in music history and theory from the University of Pennsylvania, where he worked with Leonard Meyer. He has held two Fulbright Fellowships, the first from 2005-2006 at the Centre for Music and Science of the University of Cambridge, and the second at the Finnish Center of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research at the University of Jyväskylä in 2014. In 2016, he was visiting professor of musicology at the University of Oslo. He served as president of the Society for Music Theory from 2007-2009, and is currently president of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition.

The Mellon Professorship Lecture is free and open to the public, and is co-sponsored by the Dean of the College and the Department of Music. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4475. The Weitz Center for Creativity is located on Third and College Streets in Northfield.