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Doctoral dissertation project of Runa Ya

Quelle: "Die zeichnenden Hände" von M.C. Escher, 1948, Originalgröße: 28,2 × 33,2 cm, Wilhelm Fabry Museum

Music Cognition, Embodiment, and Self-Organization: A Dynamic-Synergetic Approach (Working Titel)

What is music? How do we make sense of it? The ethnomusicologist Christopher Small defines music as musicking or to music— an innate human capacity to actively engage with and make sense of music. Accordingly, music is not only something we passively perceive but actively “do.” Taking this idea as a point of departure, I argue that music is an innate human capacity for musicking that is phylogenetically determined and intrinsically embodied. From an ontogenetic point of view, such capacity sets the stage for the emergence and development of cognitive system music, i.e., musical knowledge. This conceptualization of music will be viewed through the lens of cognitive science, more specifically, the paradigm of 4E cognition. 4E cognition criticizes the traditional brain-centered cognitivist-connectionist approaches in which cognition refers to computation located in the brain. Alternatively, proponents of 4E argue that cognition is embodied, embedded, extended, and enactive, emphasizing the active role of the body and its interaction with the environment in shaping cognition. My doctoral dissertation aims to establish a theoretical framework for music cognition that integrates 4E cognition, dynamical systems theory, and synergetics. I propose that music cognition should be considered as a dynamic process, and concepts from dynamical systems theory and synergetics may shed light on our understanding of such a process. Based on this dynamic-synergetic approach, I argue that cognitive system music (i.e., musical knowledge) emerges in the course of embodied dynamic interaction with the physical, socio-cultural environment, and other agents. 


A short biography

Runa Ya holds a B.A. in Flute Performance from the Minzu University of China in Beijing (Class Wu Ri-Gen) and a M.A. in Musicology from the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany. In her master’s thesis, Runa critically discusses the theoretical approaches concerning interpersonal movement coordination in music performance and corresponding quantitative methods, proposing an alternative categorization of performance-related movements for the empirical research (supervised by Prof. Dr. Jin Hyun Kim and Dr. Rie Asano). Runa is currently doing her doctoral research in Cognitive/Systematic Musicology at the University of Cologne under the supervision of Uni.-Prof. Dr. Uwe Seifert. 


Contact yaruna[at]smail.uni-koeln.de



Rie Asano, Pia Bornus, Justin T. Craft, Sarah Dolscheid, Sarah E. M. Faber, Viviana Haase, Marvin Heimerich, Radha Kopparti, Marit Lobben, Ayumi M. Osawa, Kendra Oudyk, Patrick C. Trettenbrein, Timo Varelmann, Simon Wehrle, Runa Ya, Martine Grice, Kai Vogeley (2018). Spring School on Language, Music, and Cognition: Organizing Events in Time. In: Music & Science. https://doi.org/10.1177/2059204318798831


Poster Presentations

Runa Ya & Till Schwabenbauer (2018) Are intentions necessary for constituting the social dimension of musical ‘meaning’? Poster presented at the Workshop “Musical ‘Meaning’, Social Interaction, and Teleofunctionalism” at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany, 13-14 July 2018.

Elsa L. Griffin & Runa Ya (2017) Rhythmic synchronization in the context of human-robot interaction. Poster presented at the KOSMOS Workshop “Emerging Synchronization in Music Cognition ” at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany, 27-30 September 2017.