Dr Daniel Müllensiefen

Professor of Music Psychology (formerly Computing)
Goldsmiths College
University of London
New Cross
London SE14 6NW
United Kingdom
tel: +44 (0) 20 7919 7895
fax: +44 (0) 20 7919 7873
ORCID: 0000-0001-7297-1760

I studied Systematic Musicology, Historic Musicology and Journalism at the universities of Hamburg (Germany) and Salamanca (Spain). I did my doctoral dissertation in Systematic Musicology on memory for melodies under the supervision of Albrecht Schneider at the University of Hamburg and obtained my PhD in 2005. From April 2006 until June 2009 I worked as a Research Fellow in the Computing department at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Since July 2009 I have been a lecturer, and since 2015 Reader, in the Psychology department at Goldsmiths, part of the Music, Mind and Brain research group, and director of the Master's course in Music Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths. Since September 2010 I am also working as Scientist in Residence with the London-based advertising agency DDB UK.

In 2016 I received the Anneliese Maier award from the German Humboldt foundation. I'm also the current editor of the online open access journal Empirical Musicology Review.

In my non-academic work, I have been working as a freelance expert witness in music law cases for numerous music publishers and producers, record labels, law firms, and in court since 1999. I'm a co-founder of musikgutachten.de GbR, a consultancy for music copyright affairs which is now directed by Dr Klaus Frieler in Germany. From 2000 until 2006 I was a project manager and business development manager for PhonoNet GmbH, a technical subsidiary of the German Association of the Music Industry.

Since July 2009 I am working as a course co-director and lecturer on the Master's course Music Mind and Brain in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths College

From 2006 to 2009 I have been working as a Research Fellow in the Intelligent Sound and Music Systems (ISMS) group at Goldsmiths College, mainly on the EPSRC supported M4S project, Investigating Human Memory for Melodies and Melodic Similarity Perception. Results, publications, and software developed during that project can be found here.

Some of my current research projects include earworms, and in particular the musical structure of these tunes that stick in our heads (supported by a British Academy small grant and a Leverhulme grant), the development of the Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index (Gold-MSI), a psychometric tool to measure the level of musical sophistication and expertise in the general population (supported by Goldsmiths Early Career Award), and the notion of melodic similarity in the context of court cases of musical plagiarism (supported by a departmental pump priming grant). Currently, I'm a Co-Investigator on the AHRC supported large grant "Transforming Musicology" where I'm looking at cognitive mechanisms relevant for the perception of Leitmotives in Richrad Wagner's music.

I developed an open source software toolbox for melodic feature analysis called FANTASTIC implemented in R. The code can be downloaded here and the algorithms and features implemented in FANTASTIC are documented in this technical report.

Together with Klaus Frieler I developed a software for similarity computation called SIMILE which is described in this documentation. The binary for Windows is available upon request.

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  • Müllensiefen, D. and Frieler, K. (2006). Evaluating different approaches to measuring the similarity of melodies. In: Batagelj, V., Bock, H.-H., Ferligoj, A., Ziberna, A. (Eds.). Data Science and Classification. Berlin: Springer, pp. 299-306.
  • Müllensiefen, Daniel and Hennig, C. (2006). Modeling memory for melodies. In: Myra Siliopoulou, Rudolf Kruse, Christian Borgelt, Andreas Nürnberger, Wolfgang Gaul (Eds.). From Data and Information Analysis to Knowledge Engineering. Proceedings of the 29th Annual Conference of the Gesellschaft für Klassifikation e.V., 2005. Berlin: Springer, pp. 732-739.



  • Müllensiefen, D. (1999). Gedächtnisleistungen bei Hintergrundmusik. Masters Dissertation, Institute of Musicology, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.

My work on similarity algorithms and musical plagiarism, the study with Alisun Pawley on 'singalongability' as well as the project on musicality with the BBC (the 'How Musical Are You?' test) and our work on earworms has received some coverage in the popular media.

  • 6 min radio feature for the German state radio station NDR explaining our study on the effects of song titles on aesthetic judgements. Listen to it here.
  • An article in the Times covering our longitudinal study on the development of musical abilities across the teen years. Read it here.
  • 7min radio feature on Deutsche Welle (in English) summarising our earworms research. Listen to it here.
  • 5min video on the Hearing Wagner experiment that we conducted as part of Transforming Musicology project together with Goldsmiths Computing department and musicologists from the University of Oxford. Watch it here.
  • 25min youtube lecture on music, brands and advertising given as part of the Reeperbahn Festival, September 2015. Watch it here.
  • 7 min radio feature for the German state radio station SWR on earworms. Listen to it here.
  • 4 min podcast on audio branding and new technologies in advertising research for the Audio Branding Congress 2015 in Berlin. Listen to it here.
  • 2 min radio feature on American public radio on the aims and results of the Gold-MSI project. Listen to it here.
  • 18 min radio feature on the Why Factor show on the BBC World Service on earworms, also including sound bites from other eminent earworm researchers. Listen to it here.
  • 5 min TV feature on the BBC's One Show on musical plagiarism featuring our computational tools for melodic similarity measurement. Watch it here.
  • 15 min radio feature on BBC 6Music where we test the musical abilities of show host Steve Lamacq. Listen to it here.
  • 4 min TV feature on our earworm research broadcast by Swedish Television. Watch it here.
  • 6 min radio feature on our earworm research broadcast by Deutschland Radio Wissen. Find it here.
  • 5 min podcast on audio branding and music in advertising for the Audio Branding Congress 2012 at Oxford University. Listen to it here.
  • The singalongability of pop songs as covered by articles on Wired and NBC News. The latter one includes links to Youtube videos for the top 10 of singalongable songs.
  • 5 min radio interview with the British station UCB on earworms. Listen to it here.
  • Interview with LabNews UK on the singalongability of pop tunes.
  • 3 min TV news feature covering the singalongability reserach on ITV London. Watch it here.
  • 3 min interview with Hamburg radio station Alster Radio on learning and background music. Listen to it here.
  • Extended coverage of the 'How Musical Are You?' test in the Guardian.
  • A piece on the musicality project in the Telegraph.
  • An hour-long discussion with two other 'eminent thinkers' on The Forum broadcast by the BBC World Service. Listen to it here.
  • 5 min interview with Bremen's public pop station Bremen 4 (in German). Download mp3 here.
  • A 10 min talk as part of the public engagement event Striking Your Own Chord at the London Science Museum's Dana Centre. Download mp4 here.
  • 30 min interview with New York's public radio station WNYC. Listen to it here.
  • 3 min TV feature on the London news site Eastlondonlines. Watch here.