Food & Paper: An Ecological Theory of Rotating Rhythms (Niels Chr. Hansen)

For this Food & Paper we are delighted to welcome special guest Niels Chr. Hansen (Aarhus University) 

RITMO emblem alongside a photo of Niels Chr. Hansen


While musicologists have long noted that triplet rhythms evoke sensations of rotation in listeners, until recently, no theory had been proposed to account for this apparent association. In this talk, I will present an Ecological Theory of Rotating Sounds (ETRoS) (Hansen & Huron, Music & Science, 2019), developed from corpus analysis of 33 “spinning, rotating, twirling, or swirling” excerpts crowdsourced from the classical and film music repertoire. The theory maps patterns of loudness fluctuations to trajectories of rotating sound sources in the environment. Its predictions were tested in two experiments providing moderate support for ETRoS, albeit calling for further theoretical refinements and empirical tests.


Niels Chris. Hansen is an assistant professor at Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies & Center for Music in the Brain, Aarhus University, Denmark. He is a member of the Danish Young Academy and co-founded the #MUSICOVID research network. With degrees in psychology, neuroscience, music theory, and classical piano, he uses behavioural experiments, corpus studies, neuroimaging, computational modelling, and musical analysis to investigate the cognitive and neurobiological foundations of human musicality.

Published Jan. 13, 2022 3:54 PM - Last modified May 9, 2022 4:19 PM