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Department of Psychology

Bill Thompson

Bill Thompson
title Director
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telephone 02 9850 9949
mail Professor Bill Thompson
Department of Psychology
Macquarie University
NSW 2109


Bill is a professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology, Macquarie University. He is also a Chief Investigator of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, and Director of the Music, Sound and Performance Lab. He has been president of the Australian Music Psychology Society (2016-2018), President of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (Jan 2007-Jan 2009), Editor of the journal Empirical Musicology Review, and Associate Editor of the journal Music Perception. He is author of the book "Music, Thought and Feeling: Understanding the Psychology of Music" (released October 2009 and 2014 (2nd edition), Oxford University Press, ISBN: 9781452283036, 400 pages).

For information about audition and useful links, go to the Auditory List or to the Music Cognition Resource Center.

Music Perception & Cognition

Music is a unique but puzzling part of our lives. We turn on the radio while driving our car; we sing in the shower; we dance to music, shop to music, and attend funerals accompanied by music. How can we understand the role of music in our lives, and its relation to language, feelings, and ideas? How and why did music evolve as a human cognitive capacity?

We can gain a general understanding of music by thinking critically about our personal experiences with music. However, this introspective method leaves many questions unanswered. For this reason, researchers and scholars have developed and refined a range of strategies for studying music and music experience. These research tools provide a means for understanding some of the most subtle and complex aspects of the relation between music, thought, and feeling, yielding an exciting body of knowledge that we call "music perception and cognition."

Graduate Opportunities

Graduates with degrees in music or psychology may apply for postgraduate opportunities. Please email with enquiries. An honours degree in psychology or equivalent is normally needed to be competitive for admission to the program.

Curriculum Vitae

Bill Thompson's January 2018 curriculum vitae can be found here and his publications can also be found here

Music Compositions & Performances

  • Composed & performed music for theatre production: Perfect Pie. Tarragon theatre, Jan 2000.

  • Composed & performed music for feature-film: Desire. Commercial release, 2000.

  • Composed & performed music for feature-film: Dragon's Egg. 1999 on TVO, BBC.

  • Composed & performed music for feature-film: Shoemaker.Commercial release, 1997 (Carlton cinema), Toronto Film Festival, 1996, Sydney Film festival, 1997, London (England) Film Festival, 1997.

  • Composed & performed theatre music & songs for: Sled,Tarragon Theatre, January 1996.

  • Composed & performed film music for short: The Feeler,Canadian Film Centre, Toronto Film Festival, Montreal Film Festival, 1995.

  • Composed & performed film music for short: Sparky's Shoes,Canadian Film Centre, Vancouver Film Festival, 1994.

  • Composed & performed film music for short: Putty Worm,Canadian Film Centre, Toronto Film Festival, 1993.

  • Composed & performed theatre music for: Silver Dagger,St. Lawrence Centre, Toronto & The National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Winter season, 1992/1993.

  • Composed & performed radio-play music for: "Sugarcane", CBC Radio, July, 1992.

  • Composed theatre music for: Hedda Gabler,Shaw Festival, Summer season, 1991.

  • Composed & performed radio-play music for: "White Sand", CBC Radio, May, 1991.

  • Composed & performed theatre music for: Lion in the Street,World Stage Festival, Du Maurier Theatre centre, Harbourfront, June 2-5, 1990 & Tarragon Theatre, Nov-Dec, 1990.

Samples of Bill's Music

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Music Perception & Cognition
Graduate Opportunities
Music Compositions
Curriculum Vitae
Music Samples


Bill Thompson
Thenille Braun-Janzen
Lincoln Colling
Xuejing Lu
Lena Quinto
Yanan Sun
Paolo Ammirante
Steven R. Livingstone
Caroline Palmer
Frank A. Russo

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Recent News

PNAS article features on ABC and The Conversation 19 Oct 12

Bill was interviewed about his research on congenital amusia (tone deafness), recently published in the Proceedings of… more >>

MSPL paper features in Motherboard article 27 Apr 12

A 2012 paper by members of MSPL has featured in an article published by online magazine Motherboard.
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