The Routledge Companion to Music Cognition addresses fundamental questions about the nature of music from a psychological perspective. Music cognition is presented as the field that investigates the psychological, physiological, and physical processes that allow music to take place, seeking to explain how and why music has such powerful and mysterious effects on us. This volume provides a comprehensive overview of research in music cognition, balancing accessibility with depth and sophistication.

A diverse range of global scholars—music theorists, musicologists, pedagogues, neuroscientists, and psychologists—address the implications of music in everyday life while broadening the range of topics in music cognition research, deliberately seeking connections with the kinds of music and musical experiences that are meaningful to the population at large but are often overlooked in the study of music cognition. Such topics include:

  • Music’s impact on physical and emotional health
  • Music cognition in various genres
  • Music cognition in diverse populations, including people with amusia and hearing impairment
  • The relationship of music to learning and accomplishment in academics, sport, and recreation
  • The broader sociological and anthropological uses of music

Consisting of over forty essays, the volume is organized by five primary themes. The first section, "Music from the Air to the Brain," provides a neuroscientific and theoretical basis for the book. The next three sections are based on musical actions: "Hearing and Listening to Music," "Making and Using Music," and "Developing Musicality." The closing section, "Musical Meanings," returns to fundamental questions related to music’s meaning and significance, seen from historical and contemporary perspectives. The Routledge Companion to Music Cognition seeks to encourage readers to understand connections between the laboratory and the everyday in their musical lives.

part 1|111 pages

Music from the Air to the Brain

chapter 2|12 pages

Music in the Brain

Areas and Networks

chapter 3|11 pages

Music in the brain

Imagery and Memory

chapter 4|12 pages

Music in the Brain

Music and Language Processing

chapter 5|13 pages

Music and the Brain

Music and Cognitive Abilities

chapter 6|11 pages

Music, Brain, and Movement

Time, Beat, and Rhythm

chapter 7|13 pages

Music and Health

Physical, Mental, and Emotional

chapter 8|11 pages

Music, Moments, and Healing Process

Music Therapy

chapter 9|11 pages

Music, Pleasure, and Social Affiliation

Hormones and Neurotransmitters

part 2|136 pages

Hearing and Listening to Music

chapter 10|13 pages

Musical Structure

Time and Rhythm

chapter 11|11 pages

Musical Structure

Sound and Timbre

chapter 12|11 pages

Musical Structure

Tonality, Melody, Harmonicity, and Counterpoint

chapter 13|12 pages

Musical Structure

Melody, Texture, and Harmony in the Classical Tradition

chapter 15|12 pages

Musical Structure


chapter 16|11 pages

Music Production

Recording Technologies and Acousmatic Listening

chapter 17|9 pages

Musical Connections

Absolute Pitch

chapter 18|12 pages

Musical Connections

Cross-modal Correspondences

chapter 19|11 pages

Musical Connections

Music Perception and Neurological Deficits

part 3|140 pages

Making and Using Music

chapter 21|13 pages

Creating Music


chapter 22|11 pages

Music Improvisation

A Challenge for Empirical Research

chapter 23

Performing Music

Written Traditions

chapter 24|11 pages

Performing Music

Oral and Improvising Traditions

chapter 25|12 pages

Performing Music

Humans, Computers, and Electronics

chapter 26|12 pages

Music With Others

Ensembles, Conductors, and Interpersonal Coordination

chapter 27|11 pages

Music Alone and With Others

Listening, Sharing, and Celebrating

chapter 28|12 pages

Music and Text

Vocal Musicianship

chapter 29|13 pages

Music and Movement

Musical Instruments and Performers

chapter 30|14 pages

Scene and Heard

The Role of Music in Shaping Interpretations of Film

chapter 31|12 pages

Music as Enabling

Enhancing Sport, Work, and Other Pursuits

part 4|75 pages

Developing Musicality

chapter 32|11 pages

Music Across the Species

chapter 33|12 pages

Music Cognition

Developmental and Multimodal Perspectives

chapter 34|12 pages

Musical Expertise

Genetics, Experience, and Training

chapter 35|13 pages

Learning Music

Informal Processes and Their Outcomes

chapter 37|11 pages

Musical Preference

Personality, Style, and Music Use

part 5|69 pages

Musical Meanings

chapter 38|11 pages

Music Cognition

Investigations Through the Centuries

chapter 39|10 pages

Music and Communication

chapter 40|12 pages

Emotion in Music Listening

chapter 43|11 pages

Music's Meanings