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Faculty of Music

Takes MPhil and PhD students


Arild is Senior Research Associate for the project Score design for music reading: Cognitive and artistic perspectives.  This project will run at the Faculty of Music — with collaborations from the Royal College of Music and the Conservatiore royal de Bruxelles — from Jan 2023 to May 2026, and is funded through a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant.


Even for professional musicians, reading music can be challenging, and is almost never (except for consecrated experts) as straightforward as reading linguistic text —why is this?  Could one of the factors be the way musical scores are visually designed?  Could we find a way of making musical scores more legible and easier to approach?

In preliminary experiments, we have found that structured and systematic modifications to the design of conventional musical scores, affecting their layout, spacing, and visual layering — much as is done with a linguistic text when trying to make it particularly clear — can make them significantly easier to read and perform [see Stenberg, 2017; Stenberg & Cross, 2019].  We shall test the generality of these results with students and teachers at the Faculty of Music, as well as at conservatoires in London and Brussels, using eye-tracking technologies to explore whether the processes involved in music reading are similar to those involved in reading linguistic text.

Results could have significance for professional musical practice and training, for the scientific understanding of reading, and, potentially, for the acquisition of musical literacy.


Key publications: 

Stenberg, A. & Cross, I. White spaces, music notation and the facilitation of sight-reading. Nature: Scientific Reports 9 (2019).

Stenberg, A. Legibility of musical scores and parallels with language reading. PhD thesis, University of Cambridge (2017).

Contact Details

Faculty of Music
11 West Road