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Musicality: Unraveling our capacity for music

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Research shows that all humans have a predisposition for music, just as they do for language. All of us can perceive and enjoy music, even if we can’t carry a tune and consider ourselves “unmusical.” This Summer School offers interdisciplinary perspectives on the capacity to perceive, appreciate, and make music. Scholars from biology, musicology, (cognitive) neuroscience, philosophy of science, genetics, computer science, psychology, and other fields consider what music is for and why every human culture has it; whether musicality is a uniquely human capacity; and what biological and cognitive mechanisms underlie it.

The ABC Summer School’s topic is musicality, defined as a natural, spontaneously developing set of traits based on and constrained by our cognitive abilities and its underlying biology. We will take an interdisciplinary journey in which we will consider principles, constraints, and theories of musicality; review musicality from cross-cultural, cross-species, and cross-domain perspectives; discuss the cognitive mechanisms underlying the perception of music; discuss computational modelling approaches; and offer a historical context for the study of musicality.

Masterclasses and research project

The two-week international Summer School from 14 June till 24 June 2021 will consist of a series of Master Classes, each one given by a renowned expert in the field. In addition, students will work in groups with a designated tutor, on a research project within the broad topic of musicality, which they will present towards the end of the Summer School. Besides the masterclasses and workshops, an opportunity to get in contact with peer students in the field will be offered as well. The Summer School classes will be taught online, with – if the pandemic allows– hybrid workgroups held  at Science Park in Amsterdam.


  • Prof. dr. Carel Ten Cate Leiden University
  • Prof. dr. Julia Kursell University of Amsterdam
  • Prof. dr. Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis Princeton University
  • Dr. Miriam Mosing University of Melbourne
  • Prof. dr. Isabelle Peretz University of Montréal
  • Dr. Patrick Savage Keio University
  • Prof. dr. Sandra Trehub University of Toronto Mississauga
  • Prof. dr. Henkjan Honing Music Cognition Group, University of Amsterdam
  • Dr. J. Ashley Burgoyne Music Cognition Group, University of Amsterdam
  • Dr. Makiko Sadakata Music Cognition Group, University of Amsterdam
  • Dr. Fleur L. Bouwer Music Cognition Group, University of Amsterdam
  • Prof. dr. David Huron Honorary Frijda Chair in Cognitive Sciences


Tuition fees will be waived for all students registered at a Dutch university. Students from non-Dutch European and non-European universities will have to pay a tuition fee of € 275,-. For additional questions, feel free to email


It is no longer possible to register for this Summer School; registration was possible until 30 April 2021. If you have registered, you have received a confirmation e-mail. Please contact us if you have any further questions. 

Student profile

The ABC Summer School is open to master's students and PhD candidates in fields relating to cognitive neuroscience, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, cognitive science, and other fields with a with a clear interest in our capacity for music.


The ABC Summer School is an annual event organized by the interdisciplinary Research Master's Brain and Cognitive Sciences.

Facts & Figures
Mode Online
Credits 4 ECTS, 2 weeks
Language of instruction English
Conditions for admission
Starts in June