Joseph Plazak

Assistant Professor of Music



A.F.A. Music, Harper College; B.A. Music (Classical Guitar) & Psychology (Cognition), Elmhurst College; M.A., Ohio State University (Music  Theory); Ph.D., Ohio State University (Music Theory)

Areas of Study

Joe Plazak teaches courses on music theory, electroacoustic music, and music cognition at Illinois Wesleyan University. He holds an A.F.A. in music from Harper College, a B.A. in both music and psychology from Elmhurst College, and advanced degrees (M.A. & PhD) in Music Theory and Cognition from the Ohio State University. Joe performs as a guitarist and laptop musician, and he is an advocate for incorporating technology and multimedia into all musical activities. He is currently researching affect-induction via music as well as experimenting with interactive performance technologies.

Recent Publications

Plazak, J. (in press). Transpositions within user-posted YouTube lyric videos: A corpus study. Empirical Musicology Review.

Plazak, J. (2016). Ear-training 101: The EarMaster iOS course. EarMaster ApS, Egaa, Denmark.

Plazak, J. (2015). Listener-senders, musical irony, and the most ‘disliked’ YouTube videos. In K.L. Turner (editor), This is the sound of irony. Ashgate Publishing.

Plazak, J. (2014). Transforming students into theorists: the Chromatic Harmony Wikipedia Project. Music Theory Pedagogy Online (4).

Plazak, J., & Huron, D. (2011). The first three seconds: listener knowledge gained from brief musical excerpts. Musicae Scientiae, 15(1), 29-44.

Recent Presentations

The popular music classroom and the sharing economy: Beyond the textbook, beyond the canon. Panel Presentation, Ann Arbor Symposium IV. Ann Arbor, MI. November 20, 2015 (with Jena Root and Heather Laurel).

Hearing Size: Synthesizing Affect via Sound. Keynote Address, Computational Research on Music & Audio Symposium. Jefferson City, MO. November 14, 2015.

Real-time visual performance feedback in the practice room and beyond. Paper Presentation, Symposium for Learning and Teaching Music in the Twenty-First Century. Montreal, QC. November 6, 2015.

Perceiving changes of sound source size. Paper Presentation, National conference of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. Nashville, KY. August 4, 2015 (with Stephen McAdams).

Musical preference and the proximity principle. Poster Presentation. National conference of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. Nashville, KY. August 4, 2015 (with Zach Silver & Shaun Schaefers).

A perceptual approach to electroacoustic music analysis: Does Stockhausen sound better backwards? Symposium session paper on “Perception & Cognition in Contemporary Music.” National conference of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. Nashville, KY. August 3, 2015.

Cross-modality scene analysis research using animated ASA demonstrations. Poster Presentation, Milestones in Music Cognition Symposium. Montréal, QC. July 8, 2014 (with Bruno deHarak).

Tuning out: rapid identification of disliked musical genres. Poster Presentation, College Music Society Summit: Music, Science, and Society. Seattle, WA. May 15, 2014.