Constant Bonard

PhD Student

+41 76 511 67 55
Institution : University of Geneva
Department : Department of Philosophy
Discipline : Philosophy
Thesis topic : 3 hypotheses: 1 There are different “musical languages” allowing us to communicate through music. 2 As with natural languages, we learn them more easily when young. 3 This critical period determines how much we understand such or such music
Supervisor : J. Deonna

General Information

I have obtained a M.A. in philosophy at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in 2014 and have studied ethnomusicology, musicology and linguistics in Geneva as well as at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). There, Pr. Jerrold Levinson co-supervised a Master's thesis on the subject of musical genres. I am presently Prs. Julien Deonna and Fabrice Teroni's teaching assistant at the Department of Philosophy at UNIGE and a Ph.D. candidate at the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences (see below for a brief presentation of my thesis' subject). I am also a member of Thumos, a research group on emotions, values, and norms at the University of Geneva (

Outside academia, I play music in several projects (La Bande à Joe, Soirée Chasse, Noces de Radium) and organise cultural activities, mostly gigs and exhibitions (especially with my collectives "Où Êtes-Vous Tous?" and "Cooloque", that I preside).

Current Research

My thesis explores theoretical and empirical relations that musical expression has with language from an interdisciplinary perspective. Beside philosophy, my main area of specialisation, I am doing research in the fields of ethnomusicology, cognitive psychology, and linguistics.

Two important subjects of investigation are (1) common formal properties of music and language and (2) a critical period of acquisition for musical understanding and expression. Of particular interest for me is the hypothesis according to which there are different "musicalanguages" in different musical cultures; e.g. Western tonality of the Common Period would be one (or a family of musicalanguages) and Hindustani classical music another one. Through these researches, I want to defend the claim that our musical tastes are importantly shaped by an implicit learning of surrounding musicalanguages during our youth.