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Professor Tan's research concerns the interaction of music theory, philosophy, and psychology in the early-twentieth century and present day. This interaction is at the center of her dissertation, "Ernst Kurth at the Boundary of Music Theory and Psychology," for which she received the Eastman School of Music Alfred Mann Dissertation Award.
Tan is actively engaged in music cognition research, with particular interests in emotion, musical form, and expertise. With collaborators at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester) and at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology (Montreal), she has published work in Music Perception and the Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies.