Dr. Rainer Polak

 

Research Focus

•    Celebration music and dance in West Africa
•    Rhythm perception and performance
•    Culture and perception

Personal website: www.rainerpolak.de

Vita

Academic Education

2002Doctor of Philosophy at Bayreuth University with a thesis in social anthropology and ethnomusicology on professional drumming  in urban West Africa (Bamako, Mali)
1996-1999Post-graduate programme “Cross-Cultural Relationships in Africa,” Bayreuth University
1989-1996  Magister Artium at Bayreuth University in Social/Cultural Anthropology, African Linguistics and History of Africa

Career

Seit 2017Postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Music Department
2011-2016Lead researcher on a DFG-funded grant at Cologne University for Music and Dance
2004-2011Freelance teacher of West African percussion
2006-2007DFG-funded research fellow at the Institute for African Studies, Bayreuth University
2003Research associate at the Institute for African Studies, Bayreuth University

Publications

Book

Polak, R. (2004). Festmusik als Arbeit, Trommeln als Beruf. Jenbe-Spieler in einer westafrikanischen Großstadt. Berlin: Reimer.

Journal Articles, Book Sections, and Encyclopedia Entries (Selection)

Polak, R., Tarsitani, S., & Clayton, M. (2018). IEMP Malian Jembe. A collection of audiovisual recordings of Malian jembe ensemble performances, with detailed annotations. Open Science Framework (OSF). doi: 10.17605/OSF.IO/M652X

Polak, R., Jacoby, N., Fischinger, T., Goldberg, D., Holzapfel, A., & London, J. (2018). Rhythmic Prototypes Across Cultures: A Comparative Study of Tapping Synchronization. Music Perception, 36(1), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1525/mp.2018.36.1.1

Polak, R. (2017). The lower limit for meter in dance drumming from West Africa. Empirical Musicology Review, 12(3-4), 205–226.

Neuhoff, H., Polak, R., & Fischinger, T. (2017). Perception and Evaluation of Timing Patterns in Drum Ensemble Music from Mali. Music Perception, 34(4), 438–451. DOI: 10.1525/mp.2017.34.4.438

London, J., Polak, R., & Jacoby, N. (2017). Rhythm histograms and musical meter: A corpus study of Malian percussion music. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 24(2), 474–480. DOI: 10.3758/s13423-016-1093-7

Polak, R., Jacoby, N., & London, J. (2016). Kulturelle Diversität in  der empirischen Rhythmusforschung: Drei Analysen eines Audio-Korpus von Percussion-Ensemblemusik aus Mali. Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie, 13(2).

Polak, R., Jacoby, N., & London, J. (2016). Both isochronous and non-isochronous metrical subdivision afford precise and stable ensemble entrainment: A corpus study of Malian jembe drumming. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, 285. DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00285

Polak, R. (2015). Pattern and Variation in the Timing of Aksak Meter: Commentary on Goldberg. Empirical Musicology Review 10(4). DOI: 10.18061/emr.v10i4.4883

Polak, R. & London, J. (2014) Timing and Meter in Mande drumming from Mali.  Music Theory Online 20(1).

Polak, R. (2014). Bala; Bara; Bàtá; Bendre; Bonkolo; Dùndún; Dunun; Jembe; Sabar; Tama. New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Polak, R. (2012). Urban Drumming: Traditional Celebration Music in a West African City (Bamako). In E. S. Charry (Ed.), African expressive cultures. Hip hop Africa. New African music in a globalizing world (pp. 261–281). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Polak, R. (2010). Rhythmic Feel as Meter: Non-Isochronous Beat Subdivision in Jembe Music from Mali. Music Theory Online, 16(4).

Polak, R. (2007). Performing audience: On the social constitution of focused interaction at celebrations in Mali. Anthropos 102(1), 3–18.

Polak, R. (2006). Drumming for money and respect : the commercialization of traditional celebration music in Bamako. In S. R. Wooten (Ed.), Mande worlds: Wari matters. Ethnographic explorations of money in the Mande world (pp. 135–161). Munich, London: LIT.

Polak, R. (2000). A Musical Instrument Travels Around the World: Jenbe Playing in Bamako, West Africa, and Beyond. The World of Music, 42(3), 7–46.    Reprint (2006) in J. Post (ed.), Ethnomusicology: A Contemporary Reader (pp. 161–185), NY: Routledge Press. Second reprint (2012) in M. P. Baumann (ed.), The World of Music: Readings in Ethnomusicology (pp. 124–170), Berlin: VWB Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung.

 

 

Awards & Grants

Awards and Grants

2003-2004Association for African Studies in Germany (VAD): Best PhD thesis
1996-1999German Research Foundation (DFG): PhD bursary 
2006-2007 German Research Foundation (DFG): research fellowship
2011-2016German Research Foundation (DFG): research grant

 

Projects

  • Rhythm across cultures

    This project investigates the perception and performance of musical rhythm in different cultures. It compares them in terms of their degree of cross-cultural similarity or diversity and thus will enhance an empirically founded discussion of ...