Tip of the Iceberg

Henkjan Honing (University of Amsterdam)

In this presentation I will argue that we all share a predisposition for music. Examples range from the ability of newborns to perceive the beat, infants impressive sensitivity to complex rhythms, to the unexpected musical expertise of ordinary listeners. The evidence will show that music is second nature to most human beings, both biologically and socially.

However, if musical talent is indeed so wide spread as it seems, one could wonder whether we are the only species that are musical. Can birdsong, the song structure of humpback whales, a Thai elephant orchestra, or a gibbon duet be considered products of musical animals as well? It will lead to a discussion of whether successful musicians are (merely or consequently) the tip of the iceberg.

Thursday, August 29, 16.45-17.30
Keynote lecture

About Henkjan Honing

Henkjan Honing (1959) holds a KNAW-Hendrik Muller chair in Music Cognition and is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Musicology at both the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). He conducts his research under the auspices of the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), and the University of Amsterdam's Brain and Cognition (ABC) Center.

Honing is known as a passionate researcher in this new interdisciplinary field that gives us fundamental insights in the cognitive mechanisms underlying musicality. Honing has authored over 150 international publications in the area of music cognition and music technology. He recently published a book for the general public entitled Iedereen is muzikaal. Wat we weten over het luisteren naar muziek (Nieuw Amsterdam, 2009/2012), published in English as Musical Cognition: A Science of Listening (Transaction Publishers, 2011), and introduced at the 2011 edition of TEDxAmsterdam.

Henkjan Honing is the Distinguished Lorentz Fellow 2013/14, a prize granted by the Lorentz Center for the Sciences and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study.