Personnel

Lab Director

Matthew Woolhouse

  • Associate Professor (School of the Arts, McMaster University)
    Associate Member (Dept. of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour)
  • GGSM @ Guildhall School of Music & Drama)
    M.Phil. & Ph.D @ University of Cambridge)

Matthew Woolhouse studied composition with Robert Saxton and piano with Frank May at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London, UK, before completing Masters and PhD degrees at the University of Cambridge. Currently, he is an Associate Professor in the School of the Arts where he teaches courses in music theory and analysis, and directs the McMaster Chamber Orchestra. In 2013 he founded the Digital Music Lab, which conducts research into music perception, music and Parkinson’s disease, and music and eye movements. His research has attracted significant funding and multiple awards, including three Canadian Tri-Council grants, McMaster’s Synergy Award (in recognition of excellence in interdisciplinary research and commitment to innovation), and the Provincial Government of Ontario’s Early Researcher Award. Prior to coming to McMaster in 2011, Woolhouse was a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge.

Teaching

  • Courses

Conducting

Specializing in exciting and inspiring repertoire, the McMaster Chamber Orchestra (MCO) provides musically talented students from across campus with the opportunity to develop their performance skills to a maximum. Rehearsing once a week under the baton of Matthew Woolhouse, the MCO puts on two concerts per year, typically in November and March of each academic year.

Over 250 students perform in McMaster’s ensembles every year; each ensemble explore a rich variety of musical styles and ranges, from large-scale “classical works” to cutting-edge contemporary pieces. In addition to the Chamber Orchestra, other ensembles include University Choir, Women’s Choir, Concert Band, David Gerry Flute Ensemble, Jazz Band, and Percussion Ensemble.

Composition & Performance

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Graduate Students

Jo Spyra

  • Ph.D. Candidate, PNB
  • B.Mus. in Performance @ McMaster University
    M.Mus. in Performance @ University of Western Ontario
    B.A. in PNB (Music Cog) @ McMaster University
    M.Sc. in PNB @ McMaster University
    Ph.D Candidate in PNB @ McMaster University

Jo is a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour studying the effects of musical characteristics on memory. Seemingly a permanent student, Jo started at McMaster in 2004, completing an Honours degree in music education with a diploma in performance on the flute a few years later. In a brief stop at the University of Western Ontario, she completed a Master’s in music performance. Unfortunately for her music career, science was too fascinating and lured her back to McMaster for another Bachelor in PNB with a music cognition specialization and a Master of Science. When not immersed in science or music, Jo likes to go hiking and travelling or spending a quiet night at home working on pieces for her art shop.

“Key” finding: we forget musical keys over time.

Melodies and rhythms help create a stronger memory for  a musical piece.

Melodies and rhythms help us remember a musical piece for much longer than we would remember a string of chords.

Hearing something in a natural timbre (the characteristic of a sound) builds a stronger memory for a musical key than an artificial sound.

Konrad Swierczek

  • Roles
  • B.Mus. in Music (Music Cognition Spec.) @ McMaster University
    M.Sc. in PNB - Level 2 @ McMaster University

Konrad began at the Digital Music Lab as a volunteer and completed his undergraduate thesis exploring a theory of tritone substitution based on perception. He completed a Bachelor of Music with a specialization in Music Cognition at McMaster University in 2018, studying jazz double bass with Clark Johnston. During his graduate studies, he will investigate tonal attraction and cognitively informed music theory. Konrad is also an active audio engineer and musician, and continues to perform, record, and mix in Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area. 

Tonal attraction is the magnetism between two notes or chords. Modelling the perception of tonal attraction can help explain the musical experience without relying on theoretical descriptions.

Maya Flannery

  • Roles
  • B.A. in PNB (Music Cognition Spec.) @ McMaster University
    M.Sc. in PNB - Level 1 @ McMaster University

Maya joined the Digital Music Lab in 2019 with interests in music theory, audio feature analysis, and music-preference relationships. Her Honours Thesis investigated the relationships between personality and preference for low-level musical features. Maya has worked as an assistant at McMaster’s LIVE Lab, providing demonstrations of their facility and assisting with public events and research projects. Outside of the lab, Maya is an aspiring musician, currently learning piano and occasionally performing in the community. She also enjoys the outdoors, computer programming, and rolling dice with more than six sides.

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Honours Thesis Students

Claire Baguio

  • Roles
  • B.Sc. in PNB (Mental Health Spec.) - Level 5 @ McMaster University

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Lab Associates

Graeme Noble

  • Lab Manager, Webmaster, & Independent Research Assistant @ Digital Music Lab
  • B.Sc. in PNB (Mental Health Spec.) @ McMaster University

Graeme is currently a volunteer within DML, while also charging headfirst into his 4th year of Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour in the Mental Health Specialization. His deep desire to participate and investigate music has propelled him into all sorts of avenues of performance, education, and research. Graeme’s unique endeavors through marching band, barbershop, and other rare fields of interest prove his divergent taste for musical harmony. His hope is to transfer this odd experience of music to provide novel perspectives to research within the lab. Graeme’s current research focuses on the importance of timbral composition and its effects on key nonadjaceny, as an extension of the research Jo’s been working on throughout her graduate studies. This is his 2nd year in the lab and he’s super excited to continue pursuing his studies of cognition through the niche of musical analysis.

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Kelsea McCready

  • Roles
  • BSc. in PNB @ McMaster University
Kelsea is a recent graduate of Honours BSc Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour program at McMaster University. Her role as a lab associate in the Digital Music Lab involves working with the Dance for Parkinson’s population. Specifically, Kelsea is interested in mental health and quality of life in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease who are enrolled in remedial recreational programs, such as dance, in the context of COVID-19 physical distancing in-person program suspensions. 

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Research Assistants

Karen Chan

  • Roles
  • Education

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Madeline Komar

  • Roles
  • B.Sc. in PNB (Mental Health Spec.) - Level 3 @ McMaster University

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