Internship Project
Musicology and Media Studies

Conceptual Blending between Harmonic and Tactile Roughness

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,
Department of Musicology and Media Studies
Subject Area
Music Psychology, Musicology, Psychology
Summer Term Internship 2022:
09 May – 29 July

Individual Timeframe Internship:
The dates are arranged individually according to the project's and the student's availability.

Internship Modality:
On-site internship in Berlin

Project Supervisor(s)
Dr. Mats Küssner,
Dr. George Athanasopoulos (External Collaborator)
Academic Level
Advanced undergraduate students (at least 2nd year)
Graduate students
PhD students
English; Advanced German language skills (C1-C2) will be considered a bonus
Project Type
Academic research
Project Content
Visualization of music in two and three-dimensional space has been one of the issues usually found at the forefront of interest in cross-domain studies. As the outcome of a blend of different conceptual domains (namely sound, linguistic metaphors, and visual imagery), this area has received a lot of attention due to its approachability and application in everyday life. Having at its basis the possibility to deconstruct music to its elements and understand the latter both in terms of intra-musical (i.e., pitch height, tempo, loudness, harmonization, timbre, consonance/dissonance) and extra-musical parameters (i.e., performance setting, genre, performers’ age,  gender) it is possible to determine how listeners may relate these parameters to other domains. Within the boundaries of cross-modal perception and of particular interest for this project, studies have also examined the relationship between auditory roughness and angular shapes in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes (Liew, Styles & Lindborg, 2017, Liew et al., 2018).
With this project, our aim is to explore auditory roughness (as expressed via harmonic dissonance) to tactile stimuli of varying roughness. Research indicates that both linguistic and non-linguistic associations between music and images are feasible, and can be readily blended together as conceptual metaphors of space, path, velocity, size, and force, among others. Should there be a consistent pattern of organization in the participants’ responses, it may be possible to further support the claim that there is a clear organizational model of human perception which facilitates the conceptual blend of visual music imagery (Malloch & Trevarthen, 2018; Gritten & King, 2006; Godøy & Leman, 2010). 
The association of specific elements of musical stimuli to tactile roughness may provide an alternative method of associating music with another non-linguistic domain in a more comprehensible manner, and it may empower researchers to see broader designs or even patterns in human perception, that may have otherwise gone unnoticed without visualization.
Godøy, R. I., & Leman, M. (Eds.). (2010). Musical gestures: Sound, movement, and meaning. Routledge.
Gritten, A., & King, E. (Eds.). (2006). Music and gesture. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Liew, K., Lindborg, P., Rodrigues, R., & Styles, S. J. (2018). Cross-modal perception of noise-in-music: Audiences generate spiky shapes in response to auditory roughness in a novel electroacoustic concert setting. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 178.
Liew, K., Styles, S. J., & Lindborg, P. (2017). Dissonance and roughness in cross-modal perception. In Proceedings of the 6th Conference of the Asia Pacific Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music.
Malloch, S., & Trevarthen, C. (2018). The human nature of music. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 1680.
Tasks for Interns
  • Collecting, processing, and analysis of data using any of the following statistics packages: R, SPSS, JASP, or equivalent; 
  • preparation of results report.
Academic Level
Advanced undergraduate students (at least 2nd year)
Graduate students
PhD students
  • Familiarity with quantitative and qualitative statistics in social sciences is essential, including a demonstrable applied knowledge in SPSS, JASP, or any similar statistics package.
  • Experience with conducting psychology experiments with human participants in a lab setting will be considered a bonus. 
Expected Preparation
Conversation with project leaders.
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For more information on the Humboldt Internship Program or the project, please contact the program coordinator.