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Version 2I am an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies at Keio University SFC, where I direct the CompMusic lab.  I have been a leader in reviving the comparative study of the world’s music, through which I hope to better understand not only music itself, but also its broader relationship to cultural and biological diversity.

Previously, I was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography. I received my Ph.D. in Musicology from the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2017. I also hold an M.Sc. in Psychology from McMaster University (Canada) and a B.A. in Music Composition from Amherst College (USA). In 2017, I became the fifth non-Japanese to receive the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Ikushi Prize, awarded by the Emperor to 17 doctoral students throughout Japan.

My research has been published in diverse academic journals including Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , Music Perceptionand Ethnomusicologyand has been covered by media including the New York Times, NPRThe Atlantic, and The Economist. My first book, Comparative musicology: The science of the world’s music, is under contract with Oxford University Press.

I am also a performer and composer of many different kinds of music, including Japanese folk song, choral, and jazz. I’ve appeared on Japanese national TV including Nippon TV and NHK.

For more details, see my Publications page, Google Scholar page, and CV.

Key publications (full list here):

Savage, P. E. (Under contract). Comparative musicology: The science of the world’s music. Oxford University Press.

Whitehouse, H.*, François, P.*, Savage, P. E.*, Currie, T. E., Feeney, K. C., Cioni, E., Purcell, R., Ross, R. M., Larson, J., Baines, J., ter Haar, B., Covey, A., Turchin, P. (2019). Complex societies precede moralizing gods throughout world history. Nature, 568, 226–229.

Savage, P. E. (2019). Cultural evolution of music. Palgrave Communications, 5(6), 1–12. doi: 10.1057/s41599-019-0221-1

Savage, P.E. (2019). Universals. In J. L. Sturman (Ed.), The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Music and Culture (p. 2282-2285). SAGE Publications.

Savage, P. E. (2018). Alan Lomax’s Cantometrics Project: A comprehensive review. Music & Science, 1, 1–19. doi: 10.1177/2059204318786084

Savage, P. E., Cronin, C., Müllensiefen, D., & Atkinson, Q. D. (2018). Quantitative evaluation of music copyright infringement. In Proceedings of the 8th International Workshop on Folk Music Analysis (FMA2018), 61–66.

Savage, P.E., Tierney, A.T., & Patel, A.D. (2017). Global music recordings support the motor constraint hypothesis for human and avian song contourMusic Perception, 34(3), 327-334.

Savage, P.E., Brown, S., Sakai, E., & Currie, T.E. (2015). Statistical universals reveal the structures and functions of human music. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112(29), 8987–8992.

Savage, P.E., Matsumae, H., Oota, H., Stoneking, M., Currie, T.E., Tajima, A., Gillan, M., & Brown, S. (2015). How ‘circumpolar’ is Ainu music? Musical and genetic perspectives on the history of the Japanese archipelago. Ethnomusicology Forum 24(3), 443-467.

Brown, S., Savage, P.E., Ko, A. M.-S., Stoneking, M., Ko, Y.-C., Loo, J.-H., & Trejaut, J.A. (2014). Correlations in the population structure of music, genes, and language. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1774), 20132072.

Savage, P.E. & Brown, S. (2013). Toward a new comparative musicology. Analytical Approaches to World Music, 2(2) 148-197.

(* = equal contribution, italics = student supervisee, bold = own name)


The findings of Savage et al. raise provocative questions about musical structure, functions, and origins.” (Trehub, 2015, PNAS)
the comprehensive article looking to further development of comparative study by Savage and Brown (2013)…takes ethnomusicological traditions as its point of departure, but with an agenda of five “themes” – classification, cultural evolution, human history, universals, and biological evolution – one of its aims being a theory of the fundamental nature, origins, and evolution of music.” (Nettl, 2015, The study of ethnomusicology)

Header photo: Kawara festival drummers at the 2013 Rikuzentakata Ugoku Tanabata Festival (I’m down off-camera pulling their float). Credit: Kei Sato.

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