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Postdoctoral Fellowship, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics Dept. of Music

The Department of Music of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (MPIEA) is inviting applications for a Postdoctoral Fellowship on the Research Project: “Sonic-Social Genre?: Towards Multimodal Computational Music Genre Modelling”.

The MPIEA, based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, investigates the attentional, cognitive, and affective mechanisms of aesthetic perception and evaluation.

The successful applicant for this postdoctoral fellowship will collaborate on a research project focused on new approaches to analyzing and modeling music genres. Located between informatics engineering, music information retrieval, musicology, and music anthropology and sociology, this interdisciplinary project addresses the lack of an adequate theory of genre in existing approaches to music genre recognition.

The position will be jointly supervised by three PIs: Prof. Bob Sturm (KTH, Stockholm), Prof. Georgina Born (University College London), and Prof. Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann (MPIEA). The research project forms part of the ERC-funded research program “Music and Artificial Intelligence: Building Critical Interdisciplinary Studies” (MusAI, 2021–2026), which is directed by Prof. Born. It is also closely linked to Prof. Sturm’s ERC-funded research program, “Music at the Frontiers of Artificial Creativity and Criticism” (MUSAiC, 2020–2025), and to research on music aesthetics and genre-based musical tastes under way at the Department of Music of the MPIEA.

The MusAI team not only will examine the ways in which current humanistic approaches to conceptualizing genre in music are or are not compatible with current computational models, it will also attempt to develop new computational approaches. A central challenge is to find innovative ways to translate the social and cultural aspects of genre computationally while—unlike previous approaches—resisting their reduction to quantification and not rendering them “external” to computation.

Tasks and Outcomes

The intended tasks and outcomes for which the postdoctoral fellow will share responsibility with the PIs, include:

  • producing an updated survey of current computational approaches on the subject of music genre (see Bob Sturm’s “A Survey of Evaluation in Music Genre Recognition,” in Nürnberger et al. [Eds.], Adaptive Multimedia Retrieval: Semantics, Context, and Adaptation [Springer 2014]);
  • producing a survey of current humanistic research on, and theories of, music genre (see, for example, David Brackett’s introduction to Categorizing Sound: Genre and Twentieth-Century Popular Music [California, 2016]), to be followed by an attempt to bring them into interdisciplinary dialogue with current computational approaches;
  • generating focused, in-depth studies of two contrasting musical genres (e.g., Morris dancing and Scandinavian metal) that utilize and expand upon existing computational and humanistic frameworks, as indicated above;
  • producing conference papers, journal articles, website contributions, and software repositories;
  • organizing several workshops involving other project team members and experts from the MPIEA, MusAI, and MUSAiC.

The successful applicant will have skills and experience in two areas: 1) computer science, informatics engineering, and/or music information retrieval; and 2) sociological or anthropological approaches to music. This should be reflected in a PhD in one of these two areas of competency, with a track record of work in the other.

It is therefore necessary that the fellow have experience with interdisciplinary approaches to music research and interest in developing them further. Knowledge of or interest in popular music studies, cultural and media theories applied to music, and/or humanistic theories of genre is also desirable.

Application information

The position will begin on October 1, 2022, and is initially limited to 2 years. Applications should include: your detailed CV (including details of your educational background and skills); a cover letter that explains in some detail why this position interests you and what your interdisciplinary credentials are; copies of relevant degrees and/or certificates; and no more than two relevant publications.

Applications should be sent as a single PDF file by e-mail, no later than May 15, 2022, to, with “Postdoc Sonic-Social Genre” in the subject line.

Please visit the MPIEA website for full application details.

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