Musik: From Sound to Emotion

November 2, 2012 to March 10, 2013

Come and discover how music can express a wide range of emotions by creating your own music excerpt using an MP3 player. Both professional musicians and scientists will guide you in the 7 major areas of this experience, including choosing the rhythms, melodies and tones that will make up your musical creation. Then share it with your friends!

Have virtual meetings with music researchers from internationally-recognized laboratories who study the science of music, and participate in activities inspired by their research. It’s sure to be an enlightening experience.

With special collaboration from the group Simple Plan.

More Information


Sean Ferguson
Dean and Associate Professor of Composition, Schulich School of Music
McGill University

Serge Lacasse
Associate Professor, Faculty of Music
Director, Laboratoire audionumérique de recherche et de création
Université Laval

Stephen McAdams
Professor, Schulich School of Music
Director, Music Perception & Cognition Laboratory
McGill University

Isabelle Peretz
Professor, Department of Psychology, Université de Montréal
Co-Director, International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS)

Jean-François Rivest
Professor, Faculty of Music, Université de Montréal
Artistic Director, Orchestre de l'Université de Montréal

Caroline Traube
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Music
Director, Laboratoire d’informatique, acoustique et musique
Université de Montréal

Danick Trottier
Visiting Professor, Faculty of Music
Deputy Director, Laboratoire Musique Histoire Société (Interdisciplinary observatory of creation and research in music)
Université de Montréal

Vincent Verfaille
Visiting Professor, Faculty of Music
Visiting Researcher, Laboratoire d’informatique, acoustique et musique
Université de Montréal

Other Montréal-based research labs

Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology

Laboratoire de recherche sur les musiques du monde (Université de Montréal)

Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition and Expertise (McGill University)


Test: Do you have amusia?
A test of your musical abilities developed by Isabelle Peretz, researcher and member of the exhibition’s scientific committee. Don’t miss it!

The Power of the Pentatonic Scale
A demonstration by the funny and eloquent Bobby McFerrin. To watch the entire presentation, including talks by scientists, see:
Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus

The Science of Music
Answers to many questions about the effects of music.

Science & Music
A “web focus” by the prestigious journal Nature, for those who want to examine the issue in depth.

Songs of Experience
Summary proceedings of an international symposium on music and the brain.

The Scientific Power of Music
Why does music bring us such pleasure. A very simple answer.

Michael Tilson Thomas: Music and emotion through time
A TED conference video on why classical music evokes such varied emotions.

Auditory Transduction
Animated video showing how the ear “captures” music and sends auditory information to the brain.


Levitin, Daniel J. 2006. This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. New York, NY: Dutton, 314 pages.
In this revolutionary marriage of art and science, musician and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores the relationships between music—its performance, composition, how we listen to it, why we like it—and the human brain.

Levitin, Daniel J. 2008. The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature . New York, NY: Dutton, 354 pages.
Through the melodies of different songs, we discover how music has played a fundamental role in the definition and creation of society and culture.

Powell, John. 2010. How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, from Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond. New York, NY : Little, Brown and Company, 272 pages.
How does a musical note differ from noise? Does music sound better on a vinyl disc or on CD? How can you tell if you have perfect pitch?

Parker, Barry. 2009. Good Vibrations: The Physics of Music. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press , 274 pages.
This book explains, in plain language, the role of physics in the production of sound and, hence, music.

Ball, Philip. 2010. The Music Instinct: How Music Works and Why We Can’t Do Without It. New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 452 pages.
Music is everywhere and occurs in all cultures. Why does it elicit such passion?

Patel, Aniruddh D. 2007. Music, Language and the Brain. New York, NY : Oxford University Press, 513 pages.
This book deals with the close but complex relationship between language and music.

Sacks, Oliver. 2007. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. New York, NY : Alfred A. Knopf, 381 pages.
Music can move us to the depths of our beings, make us dance, or make us sad or nostalgic. This work describes the breadth and depths of our musical dimension from a scientific, philosophical, and spiritual standpoint.


Jacobson, Ryan. 2011. How MP3 Players Work. North Mankato, MN : Child’s World, 32 pages.
This book explains how MP3 files and the devices that allow us to listen to music work.>

Sohn, Emily. 2011. Sound: Music to Our Ears. Chicago: Norwood House Press, 32 pages.
Written explanations and experiments that illustrate what sound is and how it travels.

Deane-Pratt, Ade. 2011. Musical Instruments. “How Things Work!” collection. New York, NY: Powerkids Press , 32 pages.
This book explores the different ways to make music, from string instruments, to winds, to percussion, to the voice.

Tomecek, Steve. 2010. Music: Experimenting with Everyday Science. New York, NY: Chelsea House , 165 pages.
This book deals with the essential role of science in how we create and hear music. It also explores musical instruments and how they work, along with new musical technologies.