Mittwoch 01.12.2021 14:00 — 16:00
Online Event

Virtual IDEA Lectures with Patrick Savage:
Comparative Musicology: The Science of the World’s Music

What is music, and why did it evolve?
How can we understand the unity and diversity found throughout the world’s music?

Scientific attempts to answer these questions through cross-cultural comparison stalled during the 20th century and have only recently begun to make a resurgence. In this talk, I will synthesize recent advances to outline a new unified theoretical/methodological framework to understand and compare all of the world’s music. This framework takes advantage of new scientific theories and methods – particularly from advances in computer science, psychology, genetic anthropology, and cultural evolution – to apply comparative musicological research to answer longstanding questions about the origins of music and address contemporary issues including music copyright law and UNESCO policy. In doing so, I argue for an inclusive, multidisciplinary field that combines the qualitative methods traditionally employed by musicologists and cultural anthropologists with quantitative methods from the natural sciences.

A talk by Patrick Savage.

Patrick Savage is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies at Keio University in Japan, where he directs the CompMusic Lab for comparative and computational musicology. Previously, he received his MSc in Psychology from McMaster University, PhD in Ethnomusicology from Tokyo University of the Arts, and was a postdoc in the University of Oxford School of Anthropology. His research focuses on using science to understand cross-cultural diversity and unity in human music, and has been featured in outlets including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Behavioral & Brain Sciences, Ethnomusicology, The New York Times, and Nautilus. The title of this talk is also the title of his first book, which is under contract with Oxford University Press.


The IDEA Lectures bring together internationally renowned voices taking up questions of musical production and reception from a wide variety of perspectives. Musicologists from all disciplines are involved as well as musicians, psychologists, cognitive scientists, sociologists, philosophers and ethnologists.

The talk will be held in English.

External guests are welcome. Please contact