Program in Music, Mind & Society

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The Program

Founded in 2015 through a Trans-Institutional Program Grant, the program for Music, Mind & Society at Vanderbilt is a collaborative of stakeholders from various institutions, organizations and disciplines working together to accelerate the understanding, application and impact of music on individuals, and on society at-large.

Music is as old as human history. Yet over the last two centuries we’ve witnessed a complete transformation in how humans create, share and consume music. Scientists created the first devices to reproduce sound in the late 1800s, starting the revolution in how we create, share and consume music. The first words recorded on the phonograph were “mary had a little lamb”. Our relationship with music was changed forever, and it continues to rapidly evolve.
However, despite the ubiquitous and powerful role in shaping the human experience, surprisingly little is known about how and why music is so evocative. Why does music help us to learn our ABC’s? Why do we all have that one special song that can bring us joy or make us weep?

The program for Music, Mind & Society at Vanderbilt studies the science of music and society, working to discover how music works, from molecules to neurons, through explorations of how music training changes the brain, therapeutic uses of music in clinical settings, ethnographic studies of the role of music in society, to predictive modeling of musical popularity, and arts policy grounded in scientific research.

Learn more about our current lines of research.