Keynote Speakers

Nikki Rickard, PhD

School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University
Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne
Online Education Services

Nikki Rickard is a registered psychologist with an interest in exploring emotional processes underlying mental health and well-being through music psychology, positive psychology and e-mental health technologies.  Her music psychology research aims to better understand how engaging with music can promote positive cognitive functioning and manage emotional distress.  She has held office as the President of the Australian Music Psychology Society (AMPS) and the Asia-Pacific Society for Cognitive Sciences of Music (APSCOM), and was a foundation Editor-in-Chief for the SpringerOpen journal Psychology of Well-Being.  Nikki is currently the Director of Psychology at Online Education Services, and also holds positions as Adjunct Associate Professor with Monash University, and Honorary Fellow with the University of Melbourne.  

Title: The emotional significance of music for memory

The power of music to reignite memories is widely acknowledged - nostalgic music, in particular, seems capable of unlocking access to detailed events from one’s remote past, even when memory is severely compromised by dementia.  Attempts to utilize music to improve memory for current events, however, have been less successful, with the majority of research showing that music exposure has no effect, or even impairs learning of new information.  This may be partly because it has been difficult to tailor the selection and application of music interventions in the absence of a clear theoretical framework for why music might be capable of impacting on memory processes.  In this talk, a ‘neuromodulation’ framework is used to better understand how music might facilitate memory formation.  Central to this model is the emotional significance of music to the individual, and its capacity to impact on physiological arousal levels.  Evidence that emotionally powerful music meets the criteria of a neuromodulatory agent for memory is explored.  This approach may provide practitioners and educators with initial guidelines as to how and when music might heighten or weaken memory formation.    

Michael Spitzer 

A graduate of the Universities of Oxford and Southampton, Michael Spitzer taught at Durham for twenty years before becoming Professor of Music at Liverpool in 2010. Chair of the Editorial Board of Music Analysis, he is a past President of the Society for Music Analysis. His many publications explore the interactions between music theory, philosophy, and psychology. He has published two monographs: Metaphor and Musical Thought (Chicago, 2004); and Music as Philosophy: Adorno and Beethoven’s Late Style (Indiana, 2006). He inaugurated the series of International Conferences on Music and Emotion at Durham in 2009; and co-organized the First International Conference on the Analysis of Popular Music (Liverpool, 2013). He is currently completing a monograph titled A History of Emotion in Western Music, which covers more than a thousand years of music from Gregorian chant to contemporary pop. His most recent publications are on Arcade Fire’s Funeral, in Popular Music, and on musical emotion and conceptual blending, in Musicae Scientiae.

Title: A Very Short History of Fear

Since its coming of age in the wake of 9/11 2001 (according to Jan Plamper), the discipline of the history of emotions has made giant strides. Less so in musicology or music theory, which has yet to absorb the ideas, facts, and methods opened up by Juslin & Sloboda’s seminal collection (coincidentally also from 2001). My own approach, exemplified in this talk, is to bring historical and theoretical approaches together from the standpoint of music analysis: i.e., the analysis of compositional language and style.

The basic emotional category of fear is a useful ‘red thread’ to guide us through the history of musical emotion, both in the common-practice period, 1650-1910, and earlier through the pre-modern era, when our modern concept of ‘emotion’ did not apply. Starting with a stereotypical model of musical fear in the nineteenth century, this ‘very short history’ outlines a genealogy of fear, peeling back the layers of successive stylistic and intellectual paradigms, through classical, baroque, renaissance, and medieval. In the course of this journey, I shall question some basic assumptions about music-emotion research, such as the centrality of the psychology of expectations.