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Postdoctoral Researcher Unravelling our Capacity for Music

Faculty of Humanities - Institute for Logic, Language and Computation

Vacancy details of Postdoctoral Researcher Unravelling our Capacity for Music
Publication date 1 October 2021
Closing date 1 November 2021
Level of education PhD
Hours 38 hours per week
Salary indication €3,548 to €5,211 gross per month
Vacancy number 21-794

Are you looking for a postdoctoral position where you can combine insights from music cognition with psychometrics and cognitive science? If you are excited about doing this kind of research in an interdisciplinary environment, with a team of smart and friendly colleagues, then you may want to join us.

We are seeking a postdoctoral researcher for the project ‘Unravelling our capacity for music’ (406.20.CW.002). This research project aims to identify the constituent traits of our capacity for music by means of a series of listening experiments in the form of engaging memory-based games. The project is funded by an NWO-Open Competition grant awarded to Prof. Henkjan Honing, of the Music Cognition Group (MCG) at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC). The ILLC is one of the five Research Schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research.

What are you going to do

This project is about ‘musicality’. It aims to identify which set of music cognitive traits gives rise to our ability to perceive and appreciate music. We will approach musicality as a multicomponent phenomenon, aiming to decompose the capacity for music into its constituent components. The focus will be on melody and rhythm cognition, with special attention to their interaction with timbre. We hypothesize that everyday listeners are attentive to the relative aspects in all dimensions of the musical signal, suggesting ‘contour perception’ (a sensitivity to the relations between successive sounds, rather than their absolute values) to be widespread and fundamental to music cognition.

In a series of listening experiments (in the lab, the field and online) we will test this ‘contour hypothesis’ by disentangling the contributions of melodic, rhythmic and timbral contours to the recognition of familiar music (i.e., familiar to one’s own culture). For this, we will combine a set of state-of-the-art signal processing methods with memory-based listening experiments. The former will allow us to identify which acoustic cues are crucial to music cognition, the latter will reveal which aspects of the musical signal are perceptually salient and/or cognitively relevant. The full project proposal can be found on the MCG website.

The project is advised by an interdisciplinary team of experts, including Prof. Karline Janmaat who will co-supervise the anticipated cross-cultural field study (WP3), and dr. J. Ashley Burgoyne who will co-supervise the cross-cultural online study (WP4).

Your tasks and responsibilities:

  • contribute to the research as described in the project proposal, including stimuli construction using state-of-the-art signal processing methods (WP1), design and evaluation of memory-based online games (WP2), and implementing and evaluating a cross-cultural online study using these memory-based games (WP4);
  • participate in and contribute to the organisation of research activities and events at the ILLC, such as workshops and colloquia;
  • make a small contribution to the ILLC’s educational mission, by working as a teaching assistant for courses in your area of expertise and by assisting with the supervision of student research projects;
  • to publish in high level international journals, present at leading conferences and participate in the supervision of PhD students on related projects.

What do we require of you

Your experience and profile:

  • a PhD in psychometrics, music technology or related field;
  • a strong scientific expertise in one or more of these areas: music information retrieval, signal processing in the audio domain, designing and implementing large-scale online experiments;
  • the ability and willingness to work in an interdisciplinary team, with regular exchanges with a team of experts and collaborators;
  • excellent English skills and ability to write and present scientific results.

Please note that knowledge of the Dutch language is not required for this position, nor is it required for being able to live in Amsterdam. However, if you wish, there are opportunities to attend Dutch language classes.

Our offer

The Postdoc researcher will be appointed at the Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences of the Faculty of Humanities (FGm) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and will conduct the research in the ILLC.

The employment contract will be for one year. Contingent on a positive performance evaluation the contract will be extended with a maximum of two years. The intended starting date of the contract is 1 January 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week, will range from €3,548 up to a maximum of €5,211, depending on experience and qualifications, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants.

What else do we offer:

  • excellent possibilities for further professional development and education;
  • an enthusiastic, inspiring and professional academic team;
  • the opportunity to collaborate with leading researchers at research institutes that - partly as a result of their interdisciplinary approach - are world renowned.

Curious about our organisation and attractive employee benefits such as a generous holiday arrangement and development opportunities? Here you can read more about working at the UvA.

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in de field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutes in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.

The Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) is an interdisciplinary research institute that aims at bringing together insights from various fields concerned with information and information processing, such as computational linguistics, computer science, cognitive science, logic, mathematicians, and philosophy. It offers a friendly international research environment with world-class faculty in all of its areas of specialisation, including music cognition and computational musicology. We are based in the beautiful city of Amsterdam, renowned for its historic system of canals, its laid-back cosmopolitan atmosphere, and its excellent connections to the rest of Europe and the world.


Do you have any questions, or do you require additional information? Please contact:

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognise yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application. You may apply online by using the link below.

Applications should include the following information, in one pdf file (not zipped):

  • a curriculum vitae (max two pages, font size 12), including a link to your PhD thesis, and the names, affiliations and email addresses of two referees;
  • a letter of motivation (max 1 page, font size 12), explaining why you are a good fit to this position;

Please use the mandatory CV field in the application form to upload one single PDF containing the items listed above. Only the file uploaded in the CV field will be considered by the search committee. Do not upload any other attachment.

The response period closes on 1 November 2021. Only complete applications submitted as one pdf file received within the response period via the link below will be considered.

The interviews will be held in the course of 15 or 16 November 2021.

No agencies please