Dr Andrew J. Milne

Senior Research Fellow of Music Cognition and Computation

This cognitive scientist is broadening our understanding of how humans connect through music.

Dr Andrew Milne works at the interface of music, cognitive science and computing – and their implications for creativity, education and wellbeing.



Dr Milne is a musician, mid-career researcher and former DECRA fellow who researches how we understand music and how it communicates feelings and emotions (music cognition).

His research looks at how to enhance the learnability and playability of music (e.g. through software instruments), computational generation of music, and computational modelling of musical structure and music cognition.

To better understand underlying cognitive mechanisms, he conducts experiments in which participants listen to carefully chosen musical features, such as certain melodies, chords or rhythms, then describe what they feel.

The resulting cognitive insights are then applied to mathematical models related to the perception, performance and algorithmic generation of music and the design of music software.

I aim to create models that predict emotional responses to music and inspire new ways to generate music.

He recently travelled to a remote community in Papua New Guinea to understand more about the cross-cultural aspects of music cognition. This work showed that music cognition is influenced by both universal and cultural aspects.

For example, major chords are felt to be happier than minor chords in cultures with exposure to Western music, but not in cultures without such exposure. However, other musical features seem to be universally associated with musical dissonance.


Dr Milne has developed novel music perception models and creative musical applications designed to support the composition and performance of music. His new musical interfaces can be used in public art as well as for therapy and education.

Understanding how people comprehend music can support new ways of teaching and producing music, for example, to support creativity in people with disabilities. Music can also be used to scaffold the learning of mathematics in schools.

For example, his software has been used in a Western Sydney school to teach fractions and division with musical rhythms. It was enthusiastically received by the class.

“You can use instruments to do fractions as fun.”

“I learnt how to divide a whole easier.”

“I learnt how to recognise fractions.”

He took part in a program to develop a suite of new musical instruments to help group music-making for older adults at a Western Sydney aged care home. Once again, this was enthusiastically received by the residents.

His work also has applications for the promotion of non-Western music in Western cultures.

My work on how people understand music can lead to the design of musical interfaces, software or music hardware to facilitate understanding and playing of music.

He has developed several free music software applications, which allow smooth control of the relationships between the spectra of tones in a scale or chord, and for algorithmic music generation. For example, his XronoMorph software for generating complex but groovy musical loops has generated substantial interest and is featured in several commercial recordings.

He also develops the Music Perception Toolbox for extracting several psychoacoustic and structural features from symbolic and audio musical data, developed as part of his DECRA.


Dr Milne is a postdoctoral research fellow at the MARCS Institute and a member of the Music Cognition and Action research program working with Professor Roger Dean to develop computational models of music cognition and to use such models to drive creative musical outputs.

He has an MA from the University of Jyvaskyla and a PhD in Music Computing from The Open University.

He has published 45 peer reviewed articles, conference proceedings, and book chapters.

He currently supervises 6 PhD and DCA students.

Professional Memberships

ESCOM (European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music) (2019)


ARC DECRA (DE170100353) 2017-02-01

Department of Family and Community Services

ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language


His creative music software is available at https://www.dynamictonality.com/

His music perception models (Music Perception Toolbox) are available at https://github.com/andymilne/Music-Perception-Toolbox

Music he has composed and performed is available at https://soundcloud.com/andrew-j-milne


Dr Milne is interested in working with music or educational software companies to help develop and market music and educational software.

Other potential collaborators are schools interested in piloting or implementing some of the educational software and associated teaching tools.

I am always open to academic collaboration related to any of my areas of research interest.


Phone+61 2 9772 6151
LocationWestern Sydney University Westmead campus