PhD, University of Dublin, Trinity College

Daniel Shanahan’s research incorporates music-analytic, computational, and experimental methods to better understand the cognitive and communicative constraints of music. His interests include corpus studies, music and emotion, the oral transmission of music, the computational analysis of jazz and folk music, as well as machine learning models and generative artificial intelligence (AI).

Daniel’s work has been published in Music Perception, The Journal of New Music Research, Musicae Scientiae, The Journal of Jazz Studies, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Cognition and Emotion, Frontiers in Psychology, and Empirical Musicology Review, among others. He recently contributed the chapter on tonality, harmony, and counterpoint to The Routledge Companion to Music Cognition (Routledge, 2017), The Routledge Companion to Music Theory Pedagogy (Routledge, 2020), and has chapters in Over and Over Again: Exploring Repetition in Popular Music (Bloomsbury, 2018), as well as multiple chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Music and Corpus Studies (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), for which he is also serving as co-editor. He has contributed book reviews to Theory and Practice, and Music Theory Online.

From 2016 until 2022, Shanahan served as co-editor of Empirical Musicology Review, after having served as the journal’s managing editor from 2012 until 2016. He also serves on the editorial boards of Music Theory Spectrum, Musicae Scientiae and the Journal of Creative Music Systems.

Before arriving at Northwestern, Shanahan held positions at Ohio State University (where he ran the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Lab), Louisiana State University (where he founded the Music Computation and Cognition Lab), and the University of Virginia. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the School of Music at Ohio State University, as well as both the Rising Faculty Research Award and the Undergraduate Teaching Award from Louisiana State University.

Selected Works/Publications


Agrawal, T., Shanahan, D., Huron, D., & Keller, H. (2021). Time-of-day practices echo circadian physiological arousal: An enculturated embodied practice in Hindustani classical music. Musicae Scientiae: The Journal of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, 1–24.

Warrenburg, L., Reymore, L., & Shanahan, D. (2020). The communication of melancholy, grief, and fear in dance with and without music. Human Technology, 16(3), 283–309.

Shanahan, D. (2020). Music Cognition, Counterpoint, and Part-Writing, in VanHandel, L. (ed.) The Routledge Companion to Music Theory Pedagogy, 96–106.

Vukovics, K., & Shanahan, D. (2020). Rhythmic variability, language, and style: A replication and extension of nPVI findings with the RISM dataset. Journal of New Music Research, 1–13.

Shanahan, D., & Albrecht, J. (2019). Examining the Effect of Oral Transmission on Folksongs. Music Perception, 36(3), 273–288.


Shanahan, D. (2021) Review of Musical Illusions and Phantom Words: How Music and Speech Unlock Mysteries of the Brain by Diana Deutsch. Music Theory Spectrum, 43(1), 188–192.

Shanahan, D. (2020) Review of Foundations of Musical Grammar by Lawrence Zbikowski. Music Analysis, 39(2), 266–274.


Two Bienen School faculty receive publication awards

November 14, 2023

Shanahan and colleagues awarded NSF grant to study impact of sound on learning

November 14, 2022

Daniel Shanahan appointed to Bienen School faculty

January 18, 2022

See All News