Carol Lynne Krumhansl is Professor of Psychology and a member of the graduate field of Music. The Music Cognition Laboratory, founded at Cornell in 1980, has taken an empirical approach to a wide range of topics concerning how music is perceived and remembered. The studies of tonality, pitch, and harmony helped to establish the psychological reality of music-theoretic concepts, including contemporary proposals on melodic structure and musical tension. A number of experiments have extended these investigations to music from other cultures and post-tonal music. Other research has been directed at understanding musical time and meter, including metrical hierarchies, perception of time, and rhythmic synchronization. The effect of seeing a performer on the perception and evaluation of performances has also been studied empirically, as well as emotional responses to music. Additional topics include timbre and musical development. Recent and current research is using popular music and film to study memory representations and associated autobiographical memories.
Krumhansl is the author of Cognitive Foundations of Musical Pitch and numerous journal articles. She spent two fellowship years at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and has had visiting appointments at IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique), Paris, Department of Music, University of Jyväskylä, Finland, Montreal Neurological Institute and Department of Psychology, McGill University, and the Department of Music at UCSD. She has served for many years on the board of the journal Music Perception and is past president of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition which awarded her the Achievement Award. She has been elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
At Cornell, Krumhansl directs the Music Cognition Laboratory. She teaches an undergraduate course on the psychology of music and a laboratory course in which students conduct research on any topic related to music, speech, hearing, or language. She was a founding member of the computing in the arts concentration, and co-organizes the music cognition seminar that meets four times a year at the Eastman School of Music.