Rainer Polak

I am a music and dance researcher specializing in djembe drumming and dance from Mali. I am currently a senior researcher at the  RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion at University of Oslo (Norway). Previously, I held researcher positions at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (Germany) and Cologne University of Music and Dance (Germany),  and postdoctoral fellowships at Durham University (UK) and the University of Bayreuth (Germany).

In the 1990s, I studied social anthropology, African languages, and African history. Since then, I have also taken sociological, ethnomusicological, music-theoretical, empirical-musicological, cognitive science, and ethnochoreological perspectives. My current research interests include:

  • Rhythm, timing, meter, and entrainment in music and dance;
  • Cultural variation in music perception;
  • Multimodality in rhythm performance and perception;
  • Performance situations and audiencing practices;
  • Situated learning in vernacular music/dance practices.

I am associate editor of the journal Music Perception and a member of the Editorial Board of the forthcoming journal, Analytical Approaches to African Music. Parallel to my career as a researcher, I have also worked as a musician and taught djembe drumming, mostly as a freelancer throughout Germany, but also at University of Music and Dance Cologne and Codarts University for the Arts Rotterdam.

Contact:  polak [at] mail [dot] de