The Killam Initiative on Rhythm arose out of an informal discussion between the neuroscientist Vladimir Hachinski (Western University) and the film theorist André Gaudreault (Université de Montréal). During the 2018 Killam Prize ceremony in Halifax, these two scholars realized that their disciplines, seemingly so far removed from one another, were connected by rhythm. André Gaudreault immediately shared this discovery with Marie-Josée Hébert, Vice-rectrice à la recherche, à la découverte, à la création et à l’innovation (Université de Montréal), who had attended the ceremony representing the Université de Montréal. Hébert, a fervent believer in the benefits of intersectoral collaboration, was delighted with the idea of a collaboration around the concept of rhythm, and immediately offered the support of the Université de Montréal for this initiative. André Gaudreault and Vladimir Hachinski quickly shared their idea with the three other laureates of the Killam Prize: Janet Werker (University of British Columbia), a specialist in the psychology of language development, Walter Herzog (University of Calgary), a biomechanical engineer, and James Pinfold (University of Alberta), a physicist. All were excited at the possibility of collaborating around a shared theme, and the concept of rhythm was quickly seen by these different specialists as a bridge between their respective disciplines.
In May and December 2019 this collaboration gave rise to two intersectoral encounters on rhythm, which brought together the laureates of the 2018 Killam Prize, along with a number of researchers and students who use intersectoral approaches around the question of rhythm. The knowledge shared and developed in these intersectoral encounters, which were filmed and are available on this website, led to the development of a research program and a partnership, cinEXmedia, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). This initiative was led by the Laboratoire Cinémédias at the Université de Montréal, of which the five 2018 Killam laureates are partners. In May 2023 the Third Intersectoral Encounters, taking place at Orford Musique as part of a seminar on opera creation, will enable the 2018 Killam Prize Laureates to continue to develop their collaboration on rhythm, this time through the joint creation of brief operatic scenes.
The mission of the Killam Initiative on Rhythm is to promote dialogue and collaboration between disciplines, from the natural sciences to the humanities, by using rhythm as a unifying concept. The Killam Initiative on Rhythm is unique in the extent of its research program, its sustained collaborations and the major research projects it continues to encourage, as well as the fact that it is a major intersectoral initiative in which numerous researchers in the pure sciences are involved, even as the initiative is led by specialists in the humanities.