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Dr. Rainer Polak

Rainer Polak is a music researcher with a focus on the empirical study of rhythm. Since 2011, he has served as principal investigator of a project, funded by the German Research Council (DFG), on performance timing patterns and metric perception of uneven beat subdivisions in West Africa. Next to his academic work, Polak teaches Malian jembe music, which he apprenticed to professional drummers for vernacular dance events in Bamako, Mali, during the 1990s.

An anthropologist by training, and specialized in West African dance drumming, Polak is sensitive to the contingencies of socio-cultural difference in musical practices. At the same time, he appropriates quantitative scientific methods and takes pains to apply these in fieldwork contexts and combine them with qualitative methods.

Polak’s research is interdisciplinary and collaborative. Presently, he cooperates with scholars from institutions in the USA, UK, Norway, Austria, and Germany. 



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