Assistant Professor Jer-Ming Chen

Project Info

Music making (and its enjoyment) is a fundamental aspect of human expression, culture, and communication dating from prehistoric times (evidenced from Paleolithic bone-flutes from archaeological sites, including some made from mammoth ivory), and has continued to evolve and grow with evermore sophistication alongside technological advancements. Accordingly, music acoustics seeks to understand and describe the physics of how sound waves are generated and propagated in (and out) of a musical instrument, how it interacts with the performer, and how it is perceived to make music.

A fundamental puzzle in the field is to understand how and why certain musical performances sound so remarkable – Is it the instrument? Or the performer? Or perhaps it is in their interaction?

While many advances have been made to address the puzzle by studying the acoustics of western classical musical instruments (and their performers), the acoustics of many Asian musical instruments (and their performers) remain poorly understood, including many with unique acoustic mechanisms, playing techniques, performance control parameter space, materials and design. A focused understanding of these features will contribute to a richer understanding, innovation, propagation, pedagogy and transmission of these emblems of human culture, ingenuity and expression, as well as offer opportunities for applied and translational research.

Potential Research Scopes in Music Acoustics include

  1. Acoustics and [re]design of Asian wind instruments (industry collaboration)
  2. Acoustics and [re]design of Asian string instruments (industry collaboration)
  3. Acoustic evaluation and valuation of premium violins (industry collaboration)
  4. Mode-locking mechanism in loosely coupled resonance systems
  5. Organological survey (acoustic analysis, control, response, material, design, characterization, innovation and modelling) of Asian musical instruments, including identifying acoustic interactions/phenomena unique to these instruments, and the design research methodology associated with the evolution of these instruments
  6. Player interactions in performance of Asian musical instruments, including player acoustics, pedagogy techniques and issues in transmission and practice


Interested students should contact Dr. Jer-Ming Chen (jerming_chen@sutd.edu.sg) with their recent CVs. Students are also encouraged to propose research projects according to their interests and abilities.