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Henkjan Honing (1959) has been appointed Professor of Cognitive and Computational Musicology at both the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam.

Prof Henkjan Honing, professor Music cognition

Honing conducts research into the role of perception, attention, expectation and memory when listening to music. He analyses the cognitive mechanisms which form the basis for musicality. In his research, Honing uses theoretical, empirical and computational methods.

In 2009, Honing’s research group, in collaboration with Hungarian researchers, showed that newborn babies can hear the beat in music. This research result supports the thesis that beat induction ( or sense of rhythm) is an inherited and music-specific skill. Moreover, rhythmic sense may have played an important role in the creation of music. In the coming years, Honing will further investigate three sub-disciplines as part of his research. Firstly, he will study the mechanisms that form the basis of musicality, such as rhythmic sense and relative hearing. He is currently conducting research, in collaboration with Mexican colleagues, to determine the extent to which we share these characteristics with other primates. Secondly, Honing will further develop and evaluate the methodology of computational modelling, especially the role surprise plays in these type of models. Finally, he will explore the role that internet can play when examining the music listening process. The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) recently awarded two research grants to Honing.

Henkjan Honing received his PhD in 1991 from City University (London) for research conducted on the representation of time and temporal structure in music. Between 1992 and 1997, Honing worked as KNAW Academy Researcher at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC) of the University of Amsterdam, where he performed research into the formalisation of musical knowledge. Up until 2003, he also worked as research coordinator at the Nijmegen Institute for Cognition and Information (NICI) in the field of computational modeling of music cognition. In 2007, Honing was appointed associate professor of Music Cognition at the UvA’s Musicology capacity group. In addition to his teaching and researching duties at the UvA, Honing also holds the KNAW Hendrik Muller Chair at the Faculty of Humanities, which was designated on behalf of the KNAW’s Academy Chairs in the Humanities Foundation.

Honing is the author of more than 150 international publications related to music cognition and music technology. He recently published a book for the general public titled Iedereen is muzikaal. Wat weten we over het luisteren naar muziek (Nieuw Amsterdam 2009), which was published in English under the title Musical Cognition: A Science of Listening (Transaction