Mats Kussner

Mats Kussner


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Personal profile

Research interests (short)

music cognition, cross-modal perception of sound and music, music and emotion, embodiment

Biographical details

Mats is an experimental psychologist interested in music cognition, cross-modal mappings of sound/music, and music and emotion. He studied psychology at the University of Würzburg (Germany) and the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), before graduating from Goldsmiths, University of London (UK), with a Master’s in Music, Mind and Brain. He is currently studying towards his PhD in Music Research within the AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (CMPCP) at King's College London.

Mats’ regular presentations at national and international conferences have been supported by numerous awards, including a Music & Letters Award, a Small Grant for Research in the Arts & Humanities, and Graduate School Conference Fund Grants. In 2012, Mats won SEMPRE’s Aubrey Hickman Award for his proposal ‘How musicians and non-musicians shape sound visually: introducing a visualization paradigm.’ Together with Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, he recently edited three special issues on 'Music and Shape' published in Empirical Musicology Review in 2013.

His full CV is available.

Research interests

Initially exploring and considering various approaches to shaping music in performance, Mats has run his first experiment, in which he asked musically trained and untrained participants to represent sound and music visually in a 'drawing performance': the participants' task was to follow and represent the shape of sequences of pure tones varying in pitch, loudness and tempo in real-time by means of an electronic graphics tablet. This experiment, called MUVISTA (MUsic VISualized by means of a graphics TAblet), was developed in close collaboration with Nicolas Gold (UCL) who provided the capturing software. Digitised measurements of position and pressure applied to the pen were analysed to disclose aspects of the very act of shaping sound in a free drawing paradigm. Drawings from the MUVISTA experiment can be seen here.

In his second experiment, entitled MUVISKI (MUsic VISualized KInaesthetically), Mats asked musically trained and untrained participants to represent sound and music gesturally. Using Microsoft Kinect and Nintendo Wii Remote technologies, his participants represented the shape of pure tones varying in pitch, loudness and tempo, as well as of several, diverse musical excerpts, with movements of their right hand. The bespoke capturing software, developed by Dan Tidhar (KCL), included a real-time visualization of the participants’ movements on a screen in front of them. It is envisaged that Mats' research will enable access to further levels of analysis by studying both products and processes of sound visualizations.

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Science, Music-induced emotions: An fMRI-study investigating fear and happiness networks, Goldsmiths, University of London

Award Date: 1 Jan 2009


  • BF Psychology
  • Music Psychology
  • M Music
  • Empirical Musicology


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