Stephen E. McAdams

Department of Music Research
Schulich School of Music

Canada Research Chair in Music Perception and Cognition

Schulich School of Music
555 Sherbrooke Street West,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
H3A 1E3
Tel. 514-398-4535 ext.094827
Fax. 514-398-2962
smc at

Research Areas


Research Summary

Prof. McAdams is interested in auditory perception and cognition in everyday and musical listening. Topics of particular interest include examining: 1) the mechanisms of auditory analysis of complex scenes with multiple sources of sound, 2) the perception of the timbre of musical instruments, 3) auditory psychomechanics or the perception, recognition and identification of vibrating objects in the environment, and 4) the perception of musical materials and forms, particularly in naturalistic conditions like sitting in a concert. The primary emphasis of the research is on psychophysical techniques capable of quantifying relations between the properties of vibrating objects, acoustic signals or complex messages and their perceptual results. A long-term goal is to provide empirical data that will allow the integration of lower- and higher-level auditory processes.

Selected References

McAdams, S. & Giordano, B. L. (2009). The perception of musical timbre. In S. Hallam, I. Cross & M. Thaut (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 72-80.

Vallières, M., Tan, D., Caplin, W. & McAdams, S. (2009). Perception of intrinsic formal functionality: An empirical investigation of Mozart's materials. Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies, 3(1-2), 17-43.

McAdams, S., Roussarie, V., Chaigne, A. & Giordano, B. L. (2010). The psychomechanics of simulated sound sources: Material properties of impacted plates. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 128, 1401-1413.

Giordano, B. L., McDonnell, J. & McAdams, S. (2010). Hearing living symbols and nonliving icons: Category specificities in the cognitive processing of environmental sounds. Brain and Cognition, 73, 7-19. [DOI:10.1016/j.bandc.2010.01.005]

Peeters, G., Giordano, B.L., Susini, P., Misdariis, N. & McAdams, S. (2011). The Timbre Toolbox: Extracting audio descriptors from musical signals. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 130, 2902-2916.

Gingras, B., Lagrandeur-Ponce, T., Giordano, B. & McAdams, S. (2011). Perceiving musical identity: Performer identification is dependent on performer expertise and expressiveness, but not on listener expertise. Perception, 40, 1206-1220.

Giordano, B.L., Visell, Y., Yao, H.-Y., Hayward, V., Cooperstock, J. & McAdams, S. (2012). Identification of walked-upon materials in auditory, kinesthetic, haptic and audio-haptic conditions. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 131, 4002-4012.

Giordano, B.L., McAdams, S., Zatorre, R., Kriegeskorte, N. & Belin, P. (in press). Abstract encoding of biological sound categories in fine-grained spatial patterns of cerebral activity. Cerebral Cortex.

Updated: June 2012
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