Rainer Polak

I am an interdisciplinary rhythm researcher. I specialize in case studies of drumming and dance practices from West Africa, but also use comparative perspectives to study cultural variation in human rhythm perception and production. 

I lead the DjembeDance research project (2023–2027) at the RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion and will work as an associate professor in the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo from fall 2024. Previously, I held researcher and postdoc positions at RITMO (2022–2024), MPI for Empirical Aesthetics (2017-2022), and HfMT Köln (2011-2016), among others. My study background is in social anthropology and African studies (MA 1996, PhD 2002; University of Bayreuth).

My research encompasses approaches from the humanities and the social, computational and cognitive sciences. This breadth depends on repeated and sustained collaboration with many wonderful colleagues, including music theorist and music cognition researcher Justin London, computational scientist and cognitive scientist Nori Jacoby, (ethno)musicologist Lara Pearson, and cognitive neuroscientist Sylvie Nozaradan, to name few.

Parallel to my career as a researcher, and especially during some gaps in my academic career, I also worked as a musician and taught djembe drumming, mostly as a freelancer throughout Germany, but also at HfMT Köln and Codarts University for the Arts Rotterdam.

This is my private website. You may also visit my profile page at the University of Oslo.

Contact:  rainer[dot]polak[at]imv[dot]uio[dot]no