Professor London’s research interests include rhythm and meter, music perception and cognition, and musical aesthetics.

Current Collaborative Research Projects

Performing Time: Synchrony and Temporal Flow in Music and Dance

Co-edited with Clemens Wöllner (University of Freiburg), published by Oxford University Press (2023).  The volume addresses how experiences of time and temporality are modulated in music and dance, and how these experiences relate to current psychological and neuro-scientific theories as well as aesthetic concepts. More information about the book may be found here.

Microtiming, Meter, and Ensemble Coordination in West African Percussion Music

Ongoing collaborative research with Rainer Polak (RITMO Centre, Oslo) and Nori Jacoby (Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt). We have developed a cross-culturally comparative perspective on structures of micro-rhythmic asymmetry — colloquially referred to as rhythmic “feel” or “swing” — in Malian percussion ensemble music. We have used cross-correlation analyses of micro-timing shifts to determine who is leading and who is following within the drum ensemble, and how attentional resources are optimized amongst the members of the ensemble. Research has been published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Music Perception, Music Theory Online, and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Our current work involves the subjective perception of polyrhythms, and the cross-modal perception of rhythm and meter, including the actions of both musicians and dancers.

Time: Timing and Sound in Musical Microrhythm

Collaborative research project with Anne Danielsen (PI) at the University of Oslo. This project explores the microstructure of musical sounds, such as temporal shape, intensity, and timbre, and the ways they influence our sense of when a sound occurs in time. This in turn affects how we are able to hear the ebb and flow of a series of sounds, and how we can coordinate our attention and action with them. Research from this project has been published in Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, Journal of Experimenal Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, The Journal of Music Theory, Musicae Scientiae, and the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

Auditory and Visual Factors in Musical Tempo Judgments

Collaborative research with Petri Toiviainen, Birgitta Burger, Marc Thompson, and Emily Carlson (University of Jyväskylä, Finland). This project, initially supported by a Finnish Fulbright Core Scholars Grant is a sustained investigation into cross-modal cues for tempo and motion. Work began in Finland in 2014 used motion capture to assess the effect of tempo on participants’ movements and used movement data to construct stimuli for perceptual experiments. Findings to date are that visual information, a listener’s dance background, and self-motion can affect tempo judgments. We also discovered a curious distortion of tempo perception for recorded stimuli whose tempo has been digitally altered. Publications of this research have appeared in Acta Psychologica, Attention, Percepetion & Psychophysics, Psychological Review, and Music Perception. This research has involved Carleton College undergraduate research assistants Katherine Jones (’10), Emily Cogsdill (’11), Eleanor Dollear (’16), Molly Hildreth (’17), and Nick Schally (’19).

Teaching Harmonic Function using “Hidden” Hidden Markov Models

Collaborative work with Christopher William White (UMass Amherst), developing pedagogies that introduce undergraduate music theory students to a corpus-based approach to harmonic function. Through guided exercises with sample corpora from popular music, students learn how an agnostic approach to harmonic function (i.e., how harmonies are sequences within a musical phrase) can eliminate biases that arise either due to their musical enculturation and/or music-theoretical preconceptions.