Call for Papers

Syntax and semantics of music and dance: Formal and experimental approaches 

15th International Symposium of Cognition, Logic and Communication
November 26-28, 2021

Laboratory for Perceptual and Cognitive Systems,
Faculty of Computing, University of Latvia

in collaboration with 

Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music

About the Event

Following the pioneering work of Lerdahl and Jackendoff (1983), the formal study of musical syntax has become a well-established field  (e.g. Katz and Pesetsky 2011, Rohrmeier 2011, Granroth-Wilding and Steedman 2014), and it has yielded detailed insights into the workings of musical form, and an assessment of the analogies and disanalogies between musical and linguistic syntax (Jackendoff 2009). Two extensions of this research program have recently been proposed. First, it was suggested that music doesn’t just have a syntax but also a semantics, and a toy model was proposed to explain how musical meaning could be formally analyzed (Schlenker 2017). Second, the program of a formal analysis of syntax and semantics was extended to dance, with detailed studies of grouping structure in ballet-like movements (Charnavel 2019) and of referential relations in narrative dance (Patel-Grosz et al. 2018). 
This workshop aims to bring together researchers that seek to develop this research program, be it for music, for dance, for their interaction, or for the interaction between music and other visual narratives (e.g. film).  We particularly welcome work that combines rich data (be they introspective, experimental or corpus-based) with explicit formal analyses. Datasets may involve artificial examples/stimuli or case studies of ‘real’ music or dance. Connections between formal syntactic or semantic approaches and traditional musicology or dance theory are also welcome. 
Anonymized abstracts (see below for submission guidelines) should contain a description of the relevant background, research design, experimental or formal methods, theoretical arguments and results. Authors are encouraged to provide hyperlinks to relevant audiovisual examples. 


Isabelle Charnavel
Harvard University / University of Geneva

Markus Neuwirth 
Anton Bruckner University Linz

Pritty Patel-Grosz 
University of Oslo

Philippe Schlenker 
Institut Jean-Nicod, CNRS/NYU


Abstract submission information
Anonymized abstracts should be submitted by email to 
Abstracts should be at most 2 pages long (A4 or letter size) with 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins, set single spaced in a 12 pt font. Figures and references may be set in a smaller font, but must be within the 2 page limit. Only pdf files will be accepted. Authors are encouraged to provide hyperlinks to relevant audiovisual examples. The submission must not reveal the identity of the author(s) in any way.
Abstract submission deadline: July 15th, 2021, 23:59, EDT
Notification of acceptance: by late July / beginning of August


Charnavel, Isabelle: 2019, Steps towards a Universal Grammar of Dance: Local Grouping Structure in Basic Human Movement Perception. Frontiers in Psychology (section Cognition), Volume 10, Article 1364.
Granroth-Wilding, Mark and Steedman, Mark: 2014, A robust parser-interpreter for jazz chord sequences. Journal of New Music Research 43 (4), 355-374.
Jackendoff, Ray: 2009,  Parallels and non-parallels between language and music. Music Perception 26, 195–204. doi: 10.1525/mp.2009.26.3.195
Lerdahl, Fred and Ray Jackendoff: 1983, A generative theory of tonal music. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Patel-Grosz, Pritty; Grosz, Patrick Georg; Kelkar, Tejaswinee & Jensenius, Alexander Refsum: 2018, Coreference and disjoint reference in the semantics of narrative dance, In Uli Sauerland & Stephanie Solt (ed.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 22, vol. 2, ZASPiL 61. Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS). Chapter in Vol. 2. s 199 - 216
Katz, Jonah and Pesetsky, David : 2011, The Identity Thesis for Music and Language. Manuscript, MIT. lingbuzz/000959.
Rohrmeier, Martin: 2011, Towards a generative syntax of tonal harmony. Journal of Mathematics and Music 5 (1), 35–53.
Schlenker, Philippe: 2017, Outline of Music Semantics. Music Perception. 35, 1: 3-37. DOI: 10.1525/mp.2017.35.1

Organization Committee
Anda Beitāne (Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music)
Līga Zariņa (University of Latvia, Chair of the OC)
Santa Bartušēvica (University of Latvia)

Program Committee
Philippe Schlenker (Institut Jean-Nicod, CNRS/NYU; Chair of the PC, Co-Director)
Pritty Patel-Grosz (University of Oslo, Co-Director)
Isabelle Charnavel (Harvard University/University of Geneva, Co-Director)
Léo Migotti (Institut Jean Nicod / Ecole Normale Supérieure, Co-Director)
Michael Glanzberg (Rutgers)
Jurģis Šķilters (University of Latvia)


The symposium is organized by Laboratory for Perceptual and Cognitive Systems, Faculty of Computing, University of Latvia in collaboration of and with support by Robert Blumberg, Andrejs Eglīte, the non-profit organization “Friends of the University of Latvia”, and the University of Latvia foundation.