Research in Music Theory, Perception, and Cognition

I’m currently a third-year PhD candidate at The Ohio State University. Below are listed a selection of my current and recent research projects, summaries, and where these projects have been presented.

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Identifying the Perceptual Dimensions of Musical Instrument Timbre

Authors: Lindsey Reymore and David Huron

The first aim of this project is to build a timbre model based on qualia judgments from experienced musicians or music listeners by identifying intersubjectively consistent verbalized descriptions of musical instrument timbres. The second aim is to create timbre trait profiles (TTPs) for the most common Western musical instruments. Our hope is that these timbre trait profiles may ultimately prove useful in the analysis of orchestration in individual musical works or passages.

Received the Early Career Researcher Award from the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM). Posters at the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition in Graz, Austria (July 25, 2018); Timbre 2018 in Montreal, Canada (July 6, 2018); presentation at the Interdisciplinary Methods Festival in Columbus, OH (July 21, 2017).

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Color and Tone Color: Audio-visual Crossmodal Correspondences with Musical Instrument Timbre

Authors: Lindsey Reymore and Delwin Lindsey

Cross-modal correspondences, or widely-shared preferences for matching experiences across senses, manifest in both literary and vernacular language: for example, sounds may be bright (visual), sweet (olfactory), or sharp (tactile). The purpose of the series of experiments is to disentangle widely-recognized crossmodal correspondences between musical instrument timbres and colors, by using perceptual ratings of sound descriptors to predict participants’ choices when they are asked to match the sound to colors.

This project received funding from the Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences at Ohio State through the Summer Research Award. Presentation at the Autumn retreat for the Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences (September 15, 2018). Parts of this research will be presented in 2019 at the Florida State University Music Theory Forum and Indiana University Annual Symposium for Research in Music.

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Mode and Triad in 17th Century Germany

Author: Lindsey Reymore

This paper explores differences between the theoretical treatment of modes and their manifestation in practice during the seventeenth century by comparing the music-theoretical writing and chorale compilations of Johann Crüger (1598–1662). Based on Crüger’s theoretical approach to mode and triad in his Synopsis Musica (1630 and 1654), I analyze the chorale collection titled Geistliche Kirchen-Melodien (1649), finding that—in contrast to the egalitarian presentation of the modes in Crüger’s treatise—certain modes in the collection are strongly favored, and harmonic practices blur the distinctions between modes. I observe that the triadic vocabularies of each mode were expanded by specific practices of chromatic alteration, with the consequence that the lexicons of the individual modes overlapped and converged into two main clusters, approximating major and minor.

Paper currently submitted and under review. Presentations at the 18th Biennial International Conference for Baroque Music in Cremona, Italy (July 13, 2018); conference for the Music Theory Society of New York State in New York, NY (April 15, 2018).


Orchestrated Sadness: When Instrumentation Conveys Emotion

Authors: Niels Christian Hansen, Lindsey Reymore, & David Orvek

While recent research has refined the scientific understanding of how musical features convey affect, the impact of orchestration techniques on emotion remains understudied (McAdams, 2013). Countering claims that orchestration cannot be taught (Rimsky-Korsakov, 1912/1964) and that doing so kills creativity (Piston, 1969), this study systematically investigates solo and offstage instrumentation. Potentially, orchestral solos may prove suitable for expressing individuality, vulnerability, and loneliness (Rimsky-Korsakov, 1912/1964), thus evoking sadness in listeners. Offstage instrumentation may metaphorically represent distance or separation, also traditionally associated with sadness (Bowlby, 1980). If so, sadness-related musical features—e.g., quiet dynamics, slow tempo, legato, minor mode, low pitch, narrow pitch range, smooth rhythms, and dark-timbre instruments (Hansen, 2013)—should be more prevalent in solo and offstage passages.

Presentation at the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition in Graz, Austria (July 25, 2018).


Musical Expression and Embodiment: Fear, Threat, and Danger in the Music of The Lord of the Rings

Author: Lindsey Reymore

Research in music perception suggests various ways in which music might portray, express, or evoke fear and threat (e.g. Huron, 2015, Juslin & Laukka, 2003), but how closely do these findings reflect musical practice? Do composers actually use these techniques when aiming to express fear and threat? First, I reviewed recent research in music perception, speech prosody, and animal ethology to create a list of musical techniques that might communicate fear and threat. I compared music from fear-centered with non-fear-centered scenes from The Lord of the Rings; far more of the proposed cues are employed in fear scenes than their length-matched non-fear counterparts, supporting a probabilistic model for fear-related affective musical cues. The analyses demonstrate high consistency between the ways in which recent perceptual research suggests that fear and threat are expressed through music and fear-related music in the context of the soundtrack to The Fellowship of the Ring.

3rd prize recipient for presentation at The Hayes Graduate Research Forum in Columbus, OH (March 2, 2018) and poster presentation at the International Conference for Music Perception and Cognition in Graz, Austria (July 26, 2018).

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Does Proper Voice-leading Sound Better?

Authors: Lindsey Reymore & David Huron

Presentation at the conference for the Society for Music Perception and Cognition in San Diego, CA (August 2, 2017).


Do Flat-Side Harmonies and Tempo Predict Emotion of Lyrics in Popular Music?

Authors: Hubert Leveille-Gauvin, Lindsey Reymore, Andrew Brinkman, & Niels Christian Hansen

Presentation at the conference for the Society for Music Perception and Cognition in San Diego, CA (August 1, 2017).