Stephen McAdams, PhD, DSc, FRSC

Canada Research Chair in Music Perception and Cognition
Professor, Schulich School of Music, McGill University
Director, ACTOR Project (Analysis, Creation, and Teaching of ORchestration)

Schulich School of Music
555 Sherbrooke Street West,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3A 1E3
Tel. 514-398-4535 ext.094827
Fax. 514-398-2962
Email: stephen [dot] mcadams [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Research Interests

  • Sound source perception, categorization, recognition and identification
  • Perceptual representation and processing of musical timbre
  • Perceptual organization of the acoustic environment (auditory scene analysis)
  • Perception and cognition of musical materials and forms
  • Perceptual foundations of orchestration practice
  • Cognitive and affective dynamics of music listening
  • Intercultural studies of music perception

Prof. McAdams is interested in auditory perception and cognition in everyday and musical listening. 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. Current work is focused on developing a perceptually grounded theory of orchestration practice.


    • Habilitation à diriger des recherches (D.Sc.), Cognitive Psychology, Université Paris Descartes, June 1996
    • Ph.D., Hearing and Speech Sciences, Stanford University, June 1984
    • B.Sc. (First-class honours), Experimental Psychology, McGill University, June 1977

    Professional distinctions

    • Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 11/2022
    • Lifetime Achievement Award, Society for Music Perception and Cognition, 08/2022
    • Killam Research Fellow, Killam Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, 08/2016-07/2019
    • Schulich School of Music Outstanding Teaching Award, McGilll University, 05/2015
    • William Poland Lecture in Music Theory, School of Music, Ohio State University, 11/2014
    • Resident Faculty Fellow, Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas, McGill University, 09/2012-08/2014
    • Foreign Medal, Société Française d'Acoustique, 2009
    • Distinguished Lectures "Bilan et tendences des musicologies" (4 lectures), Faculté de Musique, Université de Montréal, 01-02/2009
    • Chaire Alphonse Dupront, Visiting Professor in Musicology, Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV), 05/2008
    • Canada Research Chair in Music Perception and Cognition, McGill University, 2004-present
    • Fellow, Acoustical Society of America, 1999
    • Philips Prize, Société Française d'Acoustique, 1992
    • Bronze medal, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France), 1991


      Work experience

      • Professor, Department of Music Research, Schulich School of Music, McGill University, 10/2004–present.
      • Director, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology, Schulich School of Music, McGill University, 11/2004–07/2009.
      • Senior Research Scientist, CNRS, Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale, Université Paris V, 10/97 - 919/99 ; IRCAM, 10/1999–09/2004 ; on leave at McGill University, 10/2004-present.
      • Team head "Auditory Perception ", Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale (CNRS URA 316), Université Paris V, 11/1994-09/1999.
      • Research Scientist, CNRS, Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale , Université Paris V, 10/1989-09/1997.
      • Team head "Music Perception and Cognition", IRCAM-Centre Pompidou, 01/1986-03/2003.
      • Senior Research Scientist, IRCAM-Centre Pompidou, 01/1986-09/1989.
      • Project head "Perceptual and Cognitive Processes ", IRCAM-Centre Pompidou, 09/1984-12/1985.
      • Research Scientist, IRCAM-Centre Pompidou, 06/1981-12/1985.


      See a complete list of Prof. McAdams's and MPCL's publications

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