Interdisciplinary approaches to research and practice in Music

The Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (IMHSD) explores the complex, powerful role of music in human experience. Established in 2005, we aim to promote the scientific understanding and practical application of music as a therapeutic, educational, artistic and social tool. Our work investigates the complexities of human musicality, musical intelligence and musical communication, offering unique insights into the nature of the human condition and our relationship with society. We draw on research, theory and practice across a range of disciplines, including psychology, medicine, neuroscience, informatics, physics, sociology, linguistics, education and philosophy.

The IMHSD comprises a multidisciplinary team of researchers with expertise in music performance, music informatics, musical acoustics, the psychology and neuroscience of music, composition, community music, music and disability and orchestral outreach work. Our members have conducted pioneering work in the use of music in therapy and social reconstruction in zones of conflict, such as the Balkans, Caucasus and the Middle East. We aim to be an active partner in the implementation of therapeutic, educational and social development programmes related to music, supporting the development of methodologies for intervention in these areas. We have strong community links with orchestras, schools, hospitals, prisons, NGOs and local authorities.

The Institute holds regular events bringing together stakeholders from a range of backgrounds and disciplines. These are organised around original themes of shared interest, taking in topics such as 'Interactive Minds', 'Music and Medicine', 'Rhythm, Time and Temporal Processing' and 'Music, Language and Movement'. Innovative collaborations include the design of a new musical instrument (the ‘skoog’) for people with severe movement difficulties and the exploration of the potential of singing to facilitate foreign language learning. We run an MSc programme in the emerging field of Music in the Community and support postgraduate research students in a range of unique, interdisciplinary studies.

The IMHSD is directed by Dr Katie Overy.