Research Group Histories of Music, Mind, and Body

Understandings of music, the mind, and the body have been closely allied since antiquity, their mutual influence inspiring idealized concepts of health as harmony, models of nervous transmission, theories of learning, and conceptions of sympathy and affect. The "Histories of Music, Mind, and Body" research group investigates the long history of using music to theorize the workings of the mind and body from antiquity to the present day, as well as the ways in which understandings of the mind and body have been historically applied to explain the effects of music. In parallel, it studies the pre-history of the modern field of music cognition, understood as the interdisciplinary intersection of psychoacoustics, psychology, and aesthetics, as they pertain to music. It thus seeks to historicize specific philosophical, embodied, and medical understandings of the experience of music (e.g., the deployment of Early Modern theories of the passions or Enlightenment-era vibrating nerve theories in music-theoretical texts), as well as diverse approaches to cognitive states (e.g., premodern notions of attention and distraction), mental categorizations of the sounding world (e.g., the experience of consonance and dissonance), and the emergence of basic musical concepts and assumptions (e.g., octave equivalence or the notion of the note as a discrete unit). The group will explore these areas of inquiry over a period of five years, working in conjunction with visiting researchers in the fields of music, the history of science, and philosophy, as well as with scientists specializing in music cognition and auditory neuroscience. In addition, the group will regularly convene working groups in order to undertake short-term research and publication projects with collaborators on various related subjects.

    "Music, Mind, and Body, 1650-1900"

    This project traces the role of music in theories of the mind and body, as well as the ways in which understandings of the mind and body have been historically applied to explain the effects of music during the period bookended by Descartes and Charcot.


    "The Hammers and the Bow: Western Polyphony, the Metaphysics of Unity, and the Concept of Harmony"

    Heraclitus, invoking the tensed string of a bow, conceived harmony as the stasis and equilibrium of conflicting forces held in continuing tension. Plato in the Symposium rejects this view in favor of a concept of harmony in which all conflict must already have been resolved.


    "Music Theory in the Scottish Enlightenment"

    This book project focuses on the emergence of a proto-cognitivist strain of music theory in late eighteenth-century Scotland. It examines theories of music (and approaches to musical cognition) advanced by John Holden (1729-1771) and Walter Young (1745-1814)...


    "Rameau Before the Enlightenment: The Traité de l’harmonie and the Origins of Modern Harmonic Theory"

    The great composer of the French Baroque, Jean-Philippe Rameau, was also the most influential music theorist since the Middle Ages: the inaugurator, in his epochal Traité de l’harmonie (1722) and in many subsequent writings, of the modern theory of harmony. This monograph proposes a revision of the widely accepted view of Rameau’s harmonic theory as a product of Enlightenment thought.



    Prof. Herzfeld-Schild (Utrecht University) will give a talk entitled "From Anthropological to Empirical Aesthetics:


    Dr. Tosca Lynch (Oxford University) will give a talk entitled ‘The Revolution of the New Music in Classical Athens: musical “lawlessness” and the development of the Classical harmonic system’


    Prof. John Muniz (University of Arizona) will give a talk entitled "We Say What We Mean and We Mean What We Say: Cognitivist Realism about Analytical Utterances"






    Talking with host Bruce Triggs about the accordion's surprising role in Victorian spiritualism.


    In a piece on the origins of the glass harmonica's purported effects on the nerves. Read more here


    Raz was interviewed on BBC Radio 3 again, this time about her research on Scottish Music Theory. Catch the feature here.



    at the University of Glasgow Music Department's research colloquium. [mehr]

    at the Society for Music Theory's 44th Annual Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida [mehr]

    at the 21. Jahreskongress der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie (GMTH) in Basel, Switzerland [mehr]

    as part of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance's music theory colloquium. [mehr]


    Dr. Carmel Raz

    Forschungsgruppe Histories of Music, Mind, and Body


    +49 69 8300479-810


    Senior Research Scientist David Cohen

    Dr. David Cohen

    Forschungsgruppe Histories of Music, Mind, and Body

    Senior Research Scientist

    +49 69 8300479-811


    Caleb Mutch

    Dr. Caleb Mutch

    Forschungsgruppe Histories of Music, Mind, and Body

    Postdoctoral Fellow


    Dr. Elizabeth Lyon

    Forschungsgruppe Histories of Music, Mind, and Body

    Gastwissenschaftlerin| Visiting Researcher


    Dr. Russell O’Rourke

    Forschungsgruppe Histories of Music, Mind, and Body




    Diana Gleiß

    Diana Gleiß


    Assistentin der Forschungsgruppenleiter/innen

    +49 69 8300479-801


    Guest Researchers

    June 2021 – present

    Prof. Marc Perlman (Brown University)

    October 2019 – July 2020:

    Prof. Thomas Christensen (University of Chicago)

    August – October 2018:

    Prof. Nathan Martin (University of Michigan)


    Carmel Raz, “Hector Berlioz’s Neurophysiological Imagination.” Forthcoming, Journal of the American Musicological Society 75.1 (2022).

    David E. Cohen, “Melodia and the 'Disposition of the Soul': Giulio Cesare Monteverdi’s ‘Platonic’ Defense of the Seconda Pratica. Forthcoming, Journal of Musicology 39.2 (2022).

    Caleb Mutch, “‘Something Else is Possible’: Transcultural Collaboration as Anti-Apartheid Activism in the Music of Juluka,” Accepted, Popular Music.

    Carmel Raz, “Sound Minds and Tuning Forks: Neuroscience’s Vibratory Histories,” in The Science-Music Borderlands: Reckoning with the Past and Imagining the Future, ed. Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, Psyche Loui, and Deirdre Loughridge. MIT Press, forthcoming.

    David E. Cohen, “From Ramos to Rameau: Toward the Origins of the Modern Concept of Harmony.” Forthcoming, Journal of Music Theory (Spring 2022).

    Caleb Mutch, “How the Triad Took (a) Root,” Forthcoming, Journal of Music Theory (Spring 2022).

    Carmel Raz, “‘To ‘Fill Up, Completely, the Whole Capacity of the Mind’: Listening with Attention in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland.” Forthcoming, Music Theory Spectrum 44.1 (2022)             Link.

    David E. Cohen, “‘Latet discordantia quartae’: An Early Natural-Scientific Explanation of Upper-Voice Fourths.” Music and Science from Leonardo to Galileo, ed. Victor Coelho and Rudolf Rasch. Brepols, forthcoming.

    Carmel Raz, “The Kinetic Universe of Philippe Leroux’s De La Texture (2007):  Drum Rudiments, Waveform Profiles, and Process Polyphony.” Forthcoming, Music Theory & Analysis 8.2 (2021).

    Caleb Mutch, “Canons and Contestable Cadences in Brahms’s Op. 118 No. 4.” Music Theory & Analysis 8.1 (2021), 143-151.       Link

    Carmel Raz, “Séances, “Sperrits,” and Self-Playing Accordions: Musical Instruments in Victorian Spiritualism.”  Journal of Musicology 38.2 (2021).        Link

    David E. Cohen, “‘A Body Composed of Many Parts’: The Concept of Harmony in Leonardo da Vinci’s Paragone.” Music and Visual Culture in Renaissance Italy, ed. Timothy Shepherd and Sanna Raninen. Routledge, forthcoming.

    Carmel Raz, “How the Sheng became a Harp,” Journal of Sound Studies 6.2 (2020): 239–56. DOI: 10.1080/20551940.2020.1794648        Link.

    David E. Cohen, “Before and After John of Garland: The Concept of Directed Dyadic Progression and Its Prehistory.” Music Theory & Analysis 7.1 (2020), 63-113.      Link

    Carmel Raz and Francesca Brittan, “Attention, Anxiety, and Audition’s Histories,”  introduction to colloquy on “Music and Forms of Attention in the Long Nineteenth Century.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 72.2 (2019), 541–546.        Link.

    Carmel Raz, “Talking to the Hand: The “Hysterical Epistemology” of the Migrating Sensorium.” Colloquy on “Music and Forms of Attention in the Long Nineteenth Century.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 72.2 (2019), 552–557.        Link.

    Carmel Raz, “Operatic Fantasies in Early Nineteenth-Century Psychiatry.” In Nineteenth-Century Opera and the Scientific Imagination, ed. David Trippett and Benjamin Walton. Cambridge University Press, 2019, 63–83.        Link.

    Carmel Raz, “Music of the Squares: David Ramsay Hay and the Reinvention of Pythagorean Aesthetics,” Public Domain Review, May 16, 2019.        Link.

    Carmel Raz, David E. Cohen, Roger M. Grant, Andrew Hicks, Nathan J. Martin, Caleb Mutch, Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann, Felix Wörner, and Anna Zayaruznaya, “Going Global, in Theory,” Musicological  Brainfood  3.1 (2019).         Link.

    Carmel Raz and Stanley Finger, “Musical Glasses, Metal Reeds, and Broken Hearts: Two Cases of Melancholia Treated by New Musical Instruments.” In The Routledge Companion to Music, Mind and Wellbeing: Historical and Scientific Perspectives, ed. Penelope Gouk, Jacomien Prins, Wiebke Thormaehlen, and James Kennaway.  Routledge, 2018, 77–92.        Link

    Carmel Raz, “An Eighteenth-Century Theory of Musical Cognition? John Holden’s Essay Toward a Rational System of Music (1770),” Journal of Music Theory 62.2 (October, 2018): 205–248.       Link

    Carmel Raz, “Anne Young’s Introduction to Music (1803): Pedagogical, Speculative, and Ludic Music Theory,” SMT-V: Videocast Journal of the Society for Music Theory 4.3 (October, 2018).       Link

    Carmel Raz, “Anne Young’s Musical Games (1801): Music Theory, Gender, and Game Design,” SMT-V: Videocast Journal of the Society for Music Theory 4.2 (September, 2018).      Link

    David E. Cohen, “Rhythm, Number, and Heraclitus' River,” AMS / SMT History of Music Theory Blog, August 2018.       Link