Dr. Anja Volk

Associate Professor, MSc, MA, PhD

visiting address:
Utrecht University
Department of Information and Computing Sciences
Buys Ballot Laboratory, office 419
Princetonplein 5, De Uithof
3584 CC Utrecht

Tel.:+31 (30) 253 5965
Email: "a . v o l k "(at)"  uu .  nl   (please remove spaces)
Profile and postal address at the Faculty of Science
Profile at AcademiaNet: Leading Women Scientists

  Anja Volk

About me

My research lies at the intersection of Computer Science, Mathematics, Cognition and Music. I strive to connect fundamental research in Computer Science with the human processing of music information. This comprises a broad spectrum of research questions from theoretical to technology-related issues, engaging areas such as Computational Music Analysis, Music Information Retrieval, Computational Musicology, Mathematical Music Theory, Digital Humanities and Music Cognition. My research aims at enhancing our understanding of music as a fundamental human trait while applying these insights for developing music technologies that offer new ways of interacting with music, such as in the newly emerging field of music, computing, and health. I am specifically interested in  music-based serious games for health and well-being, and inclusive gaming for players with different abilities.

Research Areas


Check out our call for papers for the Special Collection Explaining music with AI: Advancing the scientific understanding of music through computation in the open-access journal Music & Science, guest-edited by David Meredith, Anja Volk and Tom Collins. Deadline of submission: 31 August 2022.

Honoured to be invited speaker at ISMIR's 2022 Satellite Event Music, Mind, Movement and Technology Workshop, December 2-3, 2022.

I am heading the interdisciplinary project "AlgoRhythm: Assessing and ameliorating sensory processing deficits of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder employing a serious rhythmic game", working towards a rhythmic game for children with autism, together with my colleagues Sander Bakkes and Matthieu Brinkhuis, and the University Medical Center Utrecht (Fleur Velders, Ria Veldhuizen) and the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Autisme.
This project contributes to Utrecht University's Research theme Dynamics Of Youth.


Books and edited volumes

Invited lectures

Recent Highlights

I give the invited lecture Musical Patterns in Musical Interactions: Understanding and Employing Repetition in Music in the series "Music and Mathematics", organized by University of Salzburg and Universität Mozarteum Salzburg, 23 June 2022. 

We have published the special collection
AI and Musical Creativity at TISMIR! Enjoy reading!

With the master students of my course "Sound and Music Technology" at Utrecht University, we created the Alternative December Playlist 2021. I am very proud of what the students have achieved! On December 24, we were invited to NPO Radio 1, to the special Christmas edition of the science program Focus Kerstspecial 
- our segment starts around 1:04:10. We explained how we created the playlist, and listened to some of the songs. Check out: 36 alternatieve decemberliedjes om je playlist mee te verrijken or 36 alternative December songs to diversify your holiday playlist

I was invited to speak at the Industrial Panel at ISMIR 2021 about my work at the intersection of MIR, education, health and well-being in November 2021, together with Fabian Gouyon, Cynthia Liem, Thomas Prätzlich, and Francois Pachet (moderated by Xavier Serra).

I was invited to the WiMIR panel at ISMIR 2021 to discuss local initiatives together with Eliot Quinton, Sakinat Folorunso and Meinard Müller (moderated by Jordan B. Smith).

At the European Computer Science Summit (ECSS) 2021,  I presented the WiMIR mentoring program during the WIRE-EUGAIN Workshop.

I was an invited panelist at the 8th ACM Celebration of Women in Computing, the womENcourage 2021 conference, discussing Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Emerging Challenges and Opportunities of Artificial Intelligence. Lots to say about this topic for the area of Music Information Retrieval!

We participated with the UUrhythmicArt team in the AI Song Contest 2021, with the composition "A Glitch in Humanity".

Press release about our roadmap paper on Music, Computing and Health: within a couple of weeks our article has made it to the top 5 most downloaded/viewed articles in Music & Science!

Our paper Music, Computing, and Health: A roadmap for the current and future roles of music technology for health care and well-being has been published at the open-access journal Music & Science. This roadmap paper is a collaboration of 15 authors from 3 continents spanning computer science, music psychology and neuroscience, music therapy, music information retrieval, music technology, medical technology (medtech) and robotics, who have participated in our Lorentz workshop on Music, Computing, and Health in 2019.

Our paper Music-Driven Animation Generation of Expressive Musical Gestures presented at ACM ICMI 2020, has been published. Our goal is to create virtual companions automatically driven by music for people with neuro-muscular diseases, inspired by our collaboration with the foundation of My Breath My Music.

I have been invited at ISMIR 2020 to the Notable Women in MIR series, to speak about my experiences as a researcher in MIR.

                  scientists from Utrecht University's Faculty of

Diversity Campaign: I am a scientist

I have initiated with my Westerdijk Award 2018 for Diversity and Inclusion the exhibition "I am a scientist", showing 7 researchers on life-size mock-ups and with short videos introducing their research, from Utrecht University's Faculty of Science.

The campaign seeks to counteract stereotypical expectations about scientists, showing diversity at full width to the Science academic community. The exhibition was opened on September 3, 2019 by the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Isabel Arends.

I am a scientist

I have participated in the Dutch team "Can AI Kick It" in the 1st AI Song Contest -  learn more about our AI-composed song in this press release and in this Youtube series of NPO 3 FM.

As a founding member of the Women in Information and Computing Science (WICS) network, I received together with Anna-Lena Lamprecht and Ria van Vlimmeren, Utrecht University's award for Diversity and Inclusion 2020, alongside the Young Women in Geosciences.

I gave the keynote Towards explicating implicit musical knowledge at the Sound and Music Computing Conference 2019, Málaga, Spain, on May 30th.

I presented my research and the Women in MIR initiative at the First International Day of Women in Inclusive Sound and Music Computing Research event for more than 300 Spanish highschool students, in Málaga, Spain, on May 28th, alongside Elvira Brattico and Stefania Seraphin. The event was organized by Isabel Barbancho.

I presented at the Symposium Gender Dynamics in the Music Industry about the Women in MIR initiative, Groningen, May
17/18, 2019.

On March 29th I presented at the REWIRE 2019 Festival: Instrumental Shifts Symposium in The Hague on investigating chords in MIR.

Lorentz: Music,
                  Computing, And Health

Music, Computing, and Health

Workshop at the Lorentz Center, International Center for Workshops in the Sciences
March 04-08, 2019, Leiden, the Netherlands

Scientific Organizers:
Kat Agres, Susan van Hooren, Rebecca Schaefer, Anja Volk

Aim: Towards music technology for healthcare and well-being, drawing from music cognition, computing, music information retrieval, music therapy and medical technology

I served as a Project Guide on Modeling Repetition and Variation for MIR at first annual Women in Music Information Retrieval workshop, Paris, September 2018.


Westerdijk Award 2018

On September 4 I received the Westerdijk Award 2018 for diversity and inclusion from the Faculty of Science, Utrecht University.

The award was given to me in recognition of my activities in Women in Information and Computing Sciences (WICS),
and the international Women in Music Information Retrieval initiative (WIMIR).

Check out my Women in MIR Mentoring Program Report 2018: On the “only meeting that should last longer” about our ever growing mentoring program.

WiMIR Mentoring Program Report 2017: the many faces of diversity is online. Check out results of the international mentoring program with 50 mentees and 50 mentors!

I co-organized the Lorentz Center workshop Computational Ethnomusicology: Methodologies for a New Field with Andre Holzapfel, Peter van Kranenburg, and Julia Kursell, March 27-31, 2017, Leiden, the Netherlands.

Special Issue Music similarity: Concepts, cognition and computation,
Journal of New Music Research, Volume 45(3), appeared in September 2016. Guest Editors: Anja Volk, Elaine Chew, Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, Christina Anagnostopoulou. Follow up to Lorentz workshop on Music similarity.

I gave the opening keynote speech "Computational pattern search in folk music: challenges and opportunities" at the 6th International Workshop on Folk Music Analysis in Dublin, Ireland on June 15, 2016. Watch the video recording here, photo impression here.

I co-organized the 5th Biennal International Conference on Mathematics and Computation in Music (MCM2015), Queen Mary University of London, June 22-25, 2015.
General Chairs: Oscar Bandtlow and Elaine Chew; Program Chairs: David Meredith and Anja Volk; Publication Chair: Tom Collins; Workshop Chair: Johanna Devaney. Proceedings: Lectures Notes on Artifical Intelligence 9110.

Lorentz Music

Music similarity: concepts, cognition and computation

Workshop at the Lorentz Center, International Center for Workshops in the Sciences
19-23, 2015, Leiden, the Netherlands

Scientifc Organizers:
Christina Anagnostopoulou, Elaine Chew, Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, Anja Volk
Group photo

Journal of Mathematics and Music Special Issue


Mathematical and Computational Approaches to Music: Three Methodological Reflections

Journal of Mathematics and Music, Vol. 6(2).
Guest Editors: Anja Volk and Aline Honingh

Introduction to the Special Issue with more than 6000 times accessed, the most downloaded article of the journal

In the media/public outreach

On December 24, we were invited to NPO Radio 1 to the special Christmas edition of the science program Focus Kerstspecial with Rose Heijnen and Steven Smit. We explained how we created the playlist, and listened to some of the songs, see here the NPO Radio 1 fragment. Check out: 36 alternatieve decemberliedjes om je playlist mee te verrijken or 36 alternative December songs to diversify your holiday playlist

UU press release about our effort to diversify the December holiday playlist with 36 alternative songs,  together with students from my master course "Sound and Music Technology". In Dutch here.

Live interview in Omroep Brabant, morning program Wakker! on December 6, 2021 on why some people love Christmas music, while others get annoyed.

Interview by RTL News on the phenomenon of love vs. anymosity of Christmas music.

Press release about our roadmap paper on Music, Computing and Health: within a couple of weeks our article has made it to the top 5 most downloaded/viewed articles in Music & Science!

UU press release about our contribution to the Dutch team "Can AI Kick It" in the 1st AI Song Contest.

Interview in De Ingenieur about using AI for generating our song Abbus within the Dutch team "Can AI Kick It".

Report in DUIC about our team "Can AI Kick It" in the 1st AI Song Contest.

I gave a lecture about my research and activities in WiMIR for 300 Spanish highschool students in Málaga, March 28th, 2019, during the First International Day of Women in Inclusive Sound and Music Computing Research.

I gave a lecture about my research on patterns in music in the Stadsgehoorzaal at the city of Leiden during the Public Symposium There is Music in the Brain, organized by the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition and the municipality of Leiden, on November 30, 2018.

Interview in Leids Universitair Weekblad De anatomie van hits, 29 November 2018.

I gave the public lecture Ritme en algoritme: patronen herkennen in muziek during NWO's Night of Science Music inside Out, on October 6, 2017. Video summary.

Concertzender live at Utrecht Centraal: Live interview at radio station Concertzender on 5 June 2017 about my public lecture "Lekker (algo)ritme" during the Culturele Zondag Utrecht Centraal.

I gave the public lecture Lekker (algo)ritme at Culturele Zondag Utrecht Centraal on June 5, 2017. Podcast. Blog Studium Generale 

On June 2, 2015 I received the Spotlight award from the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, for my activities in disseminating my work to the general public.

Professoren op het podium
(Professors on stage): A theater evening over Music and Mathematics, organized and moderated by Jan van den Berg. Guests: Anja Volk, Jan Neerven and Frank Redig. Theater de Veste, Delft. 1 April 2015, 20:30.

KennisCafe Amsterdam: Rocking Science, with Anja Volk, Tom ter Bogt, Fleur Bouwer, Louis Grijp, organized by De Volkskrant, KNAW, science center NEMO, de Balie Amsterdam, 15 December 2014, 20:00-22:00. Watch at De Balie TV, listen at Kennis van Nu, Radio 5.

Radio Interview at Science 071 Sleutelstad, 17 December 2014, listen here, photo here.  Update: This interview has been submitted to the NTR Radio Award 2015

Interview "De Volkskrant", 10 December 2014, pdf

Presentation at Bessensap 2014 (Science meets press): "Hoe herken je muziek?", 6 June 2014, photo impression

Portrayal in De Groene Amsterdammer, 31st October 2013, download print version here

Computational musicology in De Groene Amsterdammer, October 2013

e-data & research nr. 4 March 2011


currently: Associate Professor at Utrecht University

2006-2010: PostDoc in the WITCHCRAFT project at the Utrecht University and the Meertens Institute Amsterdam.

2003- 2005: Postdoctoral Fellow in the at the Integrated Media Systems Center, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California.

1998-2003: PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Research Group for Mathematical Music Theory at the Technical University Berlin.

International Initiatives