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

Matthew Woolhouse teaches a range of theory, analysis, composition, and performance courses. Courses taught since September 2019 include 2CA3 and 2CB3 (Theory & Analysis II and III), 3HO3 (Analysis of 20th Century Music), 4CO3 (Advanced Studies in Harmony & Counterpoint), and 1-4GR3 (University Chamber Orchestra). He was nominated for McMaster Students Union Teaching Awards in 2013 and 2020.

Research Presentation

Matthew Woolhouse explaining his Dance for Parkinson's research in the classroom

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. Current COVID restrictions have led to innovative online approaches for the musical ensembles at McMaster.

 

McMaster University Chamber Orchestra

Live performance in the L.R. Wilson Concert Hall (November 24, 2019) under the direction of Matthew Woolhouse

Composing

As a composer, Matthew Woolhouse specializes in piano and vocal music. His choral music has been performed widely within the UK and Europe. As a pianist, he regularly performs his own piano works at concerts in McMaster’s LR Wilson Hall. In March 2020, he was awarded second prize in the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra’s annual composition competition. Performance of his work, The Waking, has been postponed due to the COVID pandemic.

Composer and Performer

A concert of compositions by Matthew Woolhouse with musician friends; L.R. Wilson Concert Hall (November 20, 2019)

Graduate Students

Jo Spyra

  • Ph.D. Candidate, Flute Player, Artist
  • 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 - Level 4 @ 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 traveling 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.

Does harmonic structure influence memory for musical sequences?

Upcoming. How does language influence memory for a nonadjacent musical key?

Konrad

Konrad Swierczek

  • Master Student
  • B.Mus. in Music (Music Cognition Spec.) @ McMaster University
    Ph.D. in PNB - Level 1 @ 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

  • Pianist, Master Student
  • 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.

Personality and music-related acoustic features play a role in our musical preferences.

Honours Thesis Students

Anne Claire Baguio

  • Thesis Student, Singer, Dancer
  • B.Sc. in PNB (Mental Health Spec.) - Level 5 @ McMaster University

Claire is in her fifth year of undergraduate studies in the Mental Health Specialization of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour. She became part of the Digital Music Lab in her fourth year when she did her individual lab studies. She is now working on her thesis. Outside of academia, Claire performs in plays and musicals, as she has been singing and dancing ever since she was a child. When she is not in rehearsal, she prefers to be at home crocheting and baking, or outside walking her dog.

Claire is working on a project in music education.

Laura Street

  • Thesis Student
  • B.Mus. (Music Cognition) - Level 4 @ McMaster University

Laura has an interest in linguistics, languages, and psychology, so she completed her BA in Cognitive Science of Language in 2017. She then rerouted her education to include her love of music, and is currently a fourth year student in the B. Music, Music Cognition program, studying Classical Voice with Charlene Santoni. Laura is very excited to be working on her undergraduate thesis, which will combine her knowledge from both degrees. When not studying, singing, or learning other instruments, Laura enjoys the visual arts, going to ballet class, and dreaming of getting her motorcycle license.

How does language influence memory for a nonadjacent musical key?

Sarphina Chui

  • Thesis Student
  • Education

About Sarphina…

Under construction

Research Assistants

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.

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

Lab Associates

Joel Affoon

  • 3QQ3 Student, Musician
  • B.Mus. (Music Cognition Spec.) - Level 4 @ McMaster University

Joel is in his fourth-year of Honours Music specializing in Music Cognition at McMaster University. He is working on the Tonal Attraction project in the Digital Music Lab, which he is very excited about. His primary instrument of study is Classical Piano but also enjoys playing Alto Saxophone in the McMaster University Concert Band. His interests are in how musicians and non-musicians perceive music. Joel is looking forward to working in the lab this year to contribute as much as he can!

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.

Karen Chan

  • Volunteer
  • B.Sc. in PNB - Level 3 @ McMaster University

My name is Karen Chan and I’m a third-year Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour student. I’m currently working on the Tonal Attraction project, which has been really interesting! I’ve been playing various instruments (piano, tenor sax, bass clarinet) throughout my entire life, and my life for music is what brought me to this lab. Asides from the lab, I really enjoy reading, sewing, and playing guitar hero (because I can’t play the guitar in real life).

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.

Max Delle Grazie

  • Independent Study
  • B.Mus. - Level 4 @ McMaster University

My name is Max Delle Grazie. I’m a fourth-year Honours Music major currently working in the Digital Music Lab on the Tonal Attraction project. My main interests are playing trombone and music theory, but I enjoy the psychological side of music as well. I have been studying music either independently or through school for about 10 years now, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I listen to a variety of genres of music, mostly classical and alternative. Most importantly, I am happy to be making contributions to the project.

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.

Shoshana Furman

  • Independent Study
  • B.A. in PNB (Music Cognition Spec.) - Level 3 @ McMaster University

My name is Shoshana Furman and I’m a third year PNB music cognition student. I’m working here on the memory for musical key project! I love music, I play cello, trumpet, and piano, and am looking forward to learn more about the psychological phenomena that happen in our brains when we listen to music! I’m very excited to work with everyone in the digital music lab and can’t wait to see what interesting things we find here!

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

Does harmonic structure influence memory for musical sequences?

How does language influence memory for a nonadjacent musical key?

Wendy Tang

  • Independent Study
  • B.Sci. in PNB - Level 3 @ McMaster University

My name is Wendy Tang, I am a third year Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior student. I am hoping to also pursue a minor in Music. I am currently working on the Music and Memory project! I love music, whether it’s listening to it or playing it. I have been involved in different bands (concert, jazz or chamber groups) ever since I was in grade 9. I play piano, tenor saxophone, french horn and also dabble around in a few other instruments. I am fascinated by how the brain responds to different stimuli and I am especially hoping to learn more about the different ways music affects our brain in the Digital Music Lab!

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

Does harmonic structure influence memory for musical sequences?

How does language influence memory for a nonadjacent musical key?