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Marcel Cobussen

Prof. dr. Marcel Cobussen is Full Professor of Auditory Culture and Music Philosophy at ACPA. In his research and teaching he mainly deals with sounds in public urban environments, everyday sounds, artistic research, improvisation and the role of music in society.

Meeting the Unfamiliar in Aesthetics


Marcel Cobussen studied jazz piano at the Conservatory of Rotterdam and Art and Cultural Studies at Erasmus University, Rotterdam (the Netherlands).

Cobussen is author of several books, among them Engaging With Everyday Sounds (OBP 2022), The Field of Musical Improvisation (LUP 2017), Music and Ethics (Ashgate 2012/Routledge 2017, co-author Nanette Nielsen), and Thresholds. Rethinking Spirituality Through Music (Ashgate 2008). He is editor of The Bloomsbury Handbook of Sonic Methodologies (Bloomsbury 2020, co-editor Michael Bull), The Routledge Companion to Sounding Art (Routledge 2016, co-editors Barry Truax and Vincent Meelberg) and Resonanties. Verkenningen tussen kunsten en wetenschappen (LUP 2011).

He is editor-in-chief of the open access online Journal of Sonic Studies. His PhD dissertation Deconstruction in Music (Erasmus University Rotterdam 2002) is presented as an online website located at www.deconstruction-in-music.com.

Cobussen has established the Sound Studies Hub at Leiden University. He advices local governments and other organizations on how to analyze sonic experiences of citizens and how to improve the sonic environment of particular sites. And he creates soundwalks.

Teaching-research statement

Sounds – whether musical or non-musical – affect moods, behavior, emotions, health, actions, and interactions of living beings. Besides, the actions and interactions of living beings as well as the mere existence of non-living beings affect our sonic environment. By engaging with our sonic environment we become more aware of the impact of sound on our being in the world. Sound artists can make important contributions to the improvement of sonic ambiances.

Research Projects

  • The relationship between sound and liveability. In this project the main research question is: How can sound contribute to a better, healthier, interesting, pleasant, social environment for all living beings?
  • Developing sound art. Permanent sonic interventions in public urban environments can improve the overall sonic environment as well as how this environment is experienced and used by living beings. The research deals with the questions how this can be done in the best way, but also what these activities ask from artists and how they make us rethink the role of art in society.
  • Creating soundwalks. Doing a soundwalk is in itself a form of doing research. A soundwalk lets participants experience places in a different way, with unexpected encounters. It thereby becomes a source of cultural knowledge and sensory awareness. It will not be deaf to prefigurations of a location, including language, transportation, commerce, norms, and identity, and will encourage participants to think about new dimensions of (sonic) environments previously taken for granted. An example is Ongehoord Leiden.
  • Inspiration guide. In this project we will investigate the possibilities of creating an online guide for city planners, architects, urban designers, policy makers, and project developers to pay more attention to sound and sound design when (re)designing urban, rural or industrial spaces.
  • Rethinking Sounds in Public Environments. Aim of this short research project is to develop an extra-curricular educational program on sound for policy makers, architects, urban planners, designers, and other professionals dealing with (re)designing urban sites.

Marcel Cobussen on Youtube

Related projects