Music and Science converge at U of Tʼs Sounds of Science

The intersection between music and science has never sounded so cool. On May 3, audience members will have the opportunity to discover the unexplored – from seeing how an opera singer’s larynx changes during performance, to how music influences functional recovery in diseases of the brain.

The Sounds of Science: Music, Technology and Medicine, presented by the Faculty of Music, the Music and Health Research Collaboratory and Science and Engineering Engagement, will feature an interactive music science fair, five presentations in the style of TED Talks and a musical performance. The event will present new insight into neurologic and clinical music therapy, psychological perception, cognition processes, and the science behind elite music performance.

The Sounds of Science is a free event open to the public.

Register here  

The event crystallized last year when Professor Molly Shoichet met with the Faculty of Music Dean Don McLean. As senior adviser on science and engineering engagement, Shoichet is excited to be working with the Faculty of Music to bring this incredible event to our community.

“I’m interested in highlighting science where it is unexpected, in exploring synergies at the intersection of different disciplines,” says Shoichet. “I myself did not realize how rich this intersection was until I embarked on this journey. I look forward to sharing it with Torontonians.”



Professor Lee Bartel, associate director of Music and Health Research Collaboratory, organized the event’s presentations to show a side of the school that the public may not have noticed before.

“Yes we’re a music school that does performance but we do performance informed by technology, performance that has impact on medicine and health,” he says. “People have always assumed that there is a link between music and health from the way music makes you feel. Now we can demonstrate that in a scientific way”.

Bartel says that there are new frontiers in standard medical research that involve music and sound in a way was never anticipated. “It’s not just ‘music makes me feel happy therefore I walk faster thus my heart gets healthier,’ but because we are very specifically making sound in a particular way that has an indirect music-medicine affect on your brain.”

The main stage performance will feature:

  • Linnea Thacker, who will perform Bach’s G Minor Presto on violin while her muscles and motions are synchronized with video and audio information provided by Dr. John Chong.
  • Adjunct Professor Jeff Wolpert, a multi JUNO award-winning engineer, and Dr. David Alter, who will demonstrate rhythmic auditory stimulation in exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation.
  • Professor Lee Bartel will show how medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, depression and Alzheimer’s Disease can respond to brain re-regulation with sound stimulation.
  • Professor Aaron Low will evaluate, in real-time, the anatomy of soprano singer, Sarah Forestieri, as she sings. Associate Professor Darryl Edwards will describe how a professional singer trains and maintains their voice.
  • Dr. Michael Thaut will cap off the presentations by showing how rhythm promotes healing in Parkinson’s Disease and how the last 20 years of breakthrough research in music-based neurorehabilitation impact current developments and applications.

Prior to performances, audience members are welcome to participate in a Science Music Fair in the main lobby foyer of the Edward Johnson Building, which will feature interactive demonstrations of new technological sound devices for therapy, gaming applications and more. Learn about the history of science in music, why our cars have been built to sound like us, and how digital audio coding works in real time. During this time, there will also be a performance of Christos Hatzis’ Harmonia with visual realization by Bruno Degazio.

Register for the free event:  

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