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Faculty of Music



I am Professor and Director of the Centre for Music and Science (CMS) and a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge.  I teach undergraduate and graduate courses for the Faculty of Music and supervise a substantial number of graduate students. Research in the CMS investigates music from many different scientific perspectives, reflected in the wide range of publications by its past and present members (see blogs at  I am Editor-in-Chief of SAGE's new online Open Access journal with SEMPRE, Music & Science, am on the editorial advisory boards of numerous journals, am a Trustee of the SEMPRE and a Governor of the Music Therapy Charity.  I am also a guitarist, having studied with Tim Walker and holding diplomas from the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music.

For more information (including graduate student supervision) see Ian Cross's page on the CMS website.


I have undertaken research into many different aspects of music: experiments in music cognition have explored the nature of our experience of tonal and rhythmic structures (see, e.g., Cross et al., 1983), as well as the mechanisms that shape those experiences; a Leverhulme Trust-funded project with Professors Jim Woodhouse and Brian Moore (in the Departments of Engineering and Psychology, respectively) studied the perceptual correlates of violin acoustics (see, e.g., Fritz et al, 2007); and projects in experimental archaeology have investigated the sound-producing potential of lithic artefacts and the possibility of their identification in the archaeological record (see Cross et al, 2002; Blake & Cross, 2015).  I have also written extensively on the relationships between music and processes of evolution (see OUP blog).

I have a number of ongoing research projects exploring the dynamics and effects of music as an interactive medium.  The first focuses on the cognitive processes underlying spontaneous interaction in speech and music, with Sarah Hawkins, Cambridge, and Richard Ogden, University of York.  The project has been further developed to incorporate motion-capture data, in collaboration with Carlos Cornejo, Daniel Party and their group in the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, and a paper detailing the results of our most recent experiment is available at:  In a recent talk (Rayson Huang lecture, University of Hong Kong, April 2021) I draw on the results of that and other recent experiments to argue that speech in the phatic register and music as interaction can both be interpreted as manifestations of a superordinate category of affiliative communicative interaction.

The second project involves exploration of the potential relationships between musical group interaction and the development of the capacity for empathy and prosocial behaviour in children, following up the results of Rabinowitch, Cross, & Burnard (2013).  It has been conducted with Tal-Chen Rabinowitch (now at the University of Haifa) at ILABS, funded by the Templeton Foundation.  Data collection is now complete and preliminary results will be available soon. A workshop, Musics, selves and societies: the roles of music in effecting change in Cambridge in June 2018 brought together researchers from across the globe to explore the evidence for music's potential to achieve individual and social change and assess how that evidence might be used to inform public policy.

A rather more applied project is exploring the development of a music-based intervention to enhance perinatal mental health in The Gambia.  The project has completed its first iteration and results are very promising (see Sanfilippo et al, 2020); a bid for large-scale funding to develop it in the context of a wider region in West Africa is in process.  The project involves a number of participants, and is led by Lauren Stewart (Goldsmiths College) and Katie Rose Sanfilippo (also Goldsmiths), with Vivette Glover and Victoria Cornelius (Imperial College London) and myself and Paul Ramchandani (University of Cambridge) as UK Co-Investigators, and Bonnie McConnell (Australian National University) as the international Co-I.  The project website at is now live and contains the latest updates, and a project video is now on YouTube.

A further research project is funded by the Wiener-Anspach Foundation and the Isaac Newton Trust.  It is being conducted with Dr Arild Stenberg in collaboration with Professor Régine Kolinsky at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and emerges from the results of Arild's doctoral research (reported in brief in Stenberg & Cross, 2019) on the effects of small modifications to the standard design of musical scores on sight-reading performance. We found that the introduction of vertically-oriented white spaces across staves could lead to more accurate and fluent sightreading, and we are following up these results with the participation of teachers and students at the Conservatoire royale de Bruxelles and the Royal College of Music, London.


Key publications: 

Selected publications since 2016:

(for a more complete list and access to preprints of papers and chapters, see my Google Scholar profile)


Hallam, S., Cross, I.  & Thaut, M. (Eds.) (2016) Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology, (2nd edition). Oxford, Oxford University Press

Peer-reviewed papers

Dunbar, R. I.M., Robledo del Canto J. P., Tamarit, I., Cross, I. & Smith, E, (2021, in press). Nonverbal Auditory Cues Allow Relationship Quality to be Inferred During Conversations. In press with Journal of Nonverbal Behavior.

Carlson, E. & Cross, I. (2021, in press).  Reopening the conversation between music psychology and music therapy: a survey of interdisciplinary attitudes.  To appear in Music Perception.

Cross, I. (2021, in press) Music, attachment and uncertainty: music as communicative interaction.  Commentary on Music as a coevolved system for social bonding (Savage, Loui, Tarr, Schachner, Glowacki, Mithen & Fitch); and Origins of music in credible signalling (Mehr, Krasnow, Bryant & Hagen). To appear in Behavioral & Brain Sciences.

Zhang, X. & Cross, I. (2021). Analysing the Relationships between Tone and Melody in Chaozhou Songs. Journal of New Music Research. []

Cao, E., Blinderman, C. D. and Cross, I. (2021). Reconsidering empathy: an interpersonal approach and participatory arts  in the medical humanities. Journal of  Medical Humanities. []

Robledo, J. P., Hawkins, S., Cornejo, C., Cross, I., Party, D., & Hurtado, E. (2021). Musical improvisation enhances interpersonal coordination in subsequent conversation: Motor and speech evidence. PLOS ONE, 16(4), e0250166. []

Harris, I. & Cross, I. (2021).  Investigating Everyday Musical Interaction During COVID-19: An Experimental Procedure for Collaborative Playlist Engagement. Frontiers in Psychology, 12(1006). []

Yu, Christine Guo, Blackwell, Alan F., & Cross, Ian (2021) Perception of Rhythmic Agency for Conversational Labelling.  Human Computer Interaction. []

Sanfilippo, K. R. M., McConnell, B., Cornelius, V., Darboe, B., Huma, H. B., Gaye, M., Ceesay, M., Ramchandani, P., Cross, I., Glover, V. & Stewart, L. (2020). Community psychosocial music intervention (CHIME) to reduce antenatal common mental disorder symptoms in The Gambia: a feasibility trial. BMJ Open, 10(11), e040287. [paper]

Bravo, F., Cross, I., Hopkins, C., Gonzalez, N., Docampo, J., Bruno, C. & Stamatakis, E.A. (2020), Anterior Cingulate and Medial Prefrontal Cortex Response to Systematically Controlled Tonal Dissonance during Passive Music Listening.  Human Brain Mapping, [].

Sanfilippo, K. R. M., McConnell, B., Cornelius, V., Darboe, B., Huma, H. B., Gaye, M., Ramchandani, P., Ceesay, H., Glover, V., Cross, I. & Stewart, L. (2019). A study protocol for testing the feasibility of a randomised stepped wedge cluster design to investigate a Community Health Intervention through Musical Engagement (CHIME) for perinatal mental health in The Gambia. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 5(1), 124. [paper]

Pavarini, G., Sun, R., Mahmoud, M., Cross, I., Schnall, S., Fischer, A., Deakin, J., et al. (2019). The Role of Oxytocin in the Facial Mimicry of Affiliative vs. Non-Affiliative Emotions. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 109, 104377.

Stenberg, A., & Cross, I. (2019). White spaces, music notation and the facilitation of sight-reading. Scientific Reports, 9(1), 5299. [PubMed]

Rabinowitch, T-C. & Cross, I. (2019). Joint rhythmic tapping elicits distinct emotions depending on tap timing and prior musical training.  Emotion, 19(5):808-817. [PubMed]

Bravo, F., Cross, I., Hawkins, S., Gonzalez, N., Docampo, J., Bruno, C., & Stamatakis, E. (2017). Neural Mechanisms underlying Valence Inferences to Sound: the Role of the right Angular Gyrus. Neuropsychologia [abstract]

Knight, S., Spiro, N., & Cross, I. (2017). Look, listen and learn: Exploring effects of passive entrainment on social judgements of observed others. Psychology of Music, 45(1), 99-115. [abstract]

Bravo, F., Cross, I., Stamatakis, E. A., & Rohrmeier, M. (2017). Sensory cortical response to uncertainty and low salience during recognition of affective cues in musical intervals. PLOS ONE, 12(4), e0175991.

Woolhouse, M., Tidhar, D., and Cross, I. (2016) Effects on interpersonal memory of dancing in time with others.  Frontiers in Psychology, 7(167), 1-8.[NCBI]

Woolhouse, M., Cross, I. & Horton, T. (2016) Perception of non-adjacent tonic key relationships. Psychology of Music, 44(4), 802-815.[abstract]

Chapters in books

Sanfilippo, K. R., Spiro, N. & Cross, I. (2021, in press) Synthesis: The future of musical care. To appear in Katie Rose Sanfilippo and Neta Spiro (Eds.) Collaborative Insights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cross, I. & Tolbert, E. (2020). Epistemologies.  In T. McAuley, J. Levinson, and N. Nielsen (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy, (pp265-282), Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Cross, I (2016). The nature of music  and its evolution.  In S. Hallam, I. Cross, and M. Thaut (Eds.)  Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology, 2nd Edn, (pp 3-17), Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Cross, I. & Tolbert, E (2016). Music and meaning. In S. Hallam, I. Cross, and M. Thaut (Eds.)  Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology, 2nd Edn, (pp 33-46), Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Stainsby, T. & Cross, I (2016). The perception of pitch. In S. Hallam, I. Cross, and M. Thaut (Eds.)  Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology, 2nd Edn, (pp 63-79), Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Hallam, S., Cross, I & Thaut, M. (2016). Where now?. In S. Hallam, I. Cross, and M. Thaut (Eds.)  Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology, 2nd Edn, (pp 905-913), Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Teaching and Supervisions

Research supervision: 

For a list of doctoral students and topics supervised, please see:
Ian Cross's CMS page