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Music computing; acoustics

Research Music computing with The Open University.

The OU hosts generous laboratory facilities and specialist staff dedicated to empirical analysis of musical performance and of the acoustics of musical instruments.

Music computing research at the OU is focused on empowering musicians, illuminating musical activities, and modelling music perception and cognition. Our work is informed by musicology, psychology, ethnography, embodied cognition, pervasive interaction, mathematics and advanced computing techniques. In particular, we devise and investigate new ways to:

  • empower beginners to engage deeply with musical activities
  • provide new tools and capabilities for expert musicians and theorists
  • cast new light on how music works.

We welcome applications in areas that correspond with current staff research interests. We look for detailed and well thought-out proposals, which set out specific research questions and outline the originality of your topic or approach. If you would like to discuss your ideas informally before submitting an application, please contact us (details below).

Qualifications available:

PhD, MPhil or Virtual MPhil


For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent)

Potential research projects

  • Music computing. Our interests are eclectic and we are keen to hear from motivated students interested in any aspect of music computing research
  • Musical acoustics (especially brass/wind instruments)

Current/recent research projects

  • Using whole body movement to understand and control musical harmony
  • Design and evaluation of tangible and multi-touch interfaces for collaborative music making
  • Using sensors and touch feedback to help musicians improve their posture
  • Understanding how people hear harmony
  • Exploring computational models of rhythm perception
  • Using haptic feedback to help people learn multi-limb rhythms
  • Algorithms to discover musical patterns
  • Tools for understanding and controlling harmony visually
  • Use of multi-touch surfaces for microtonal tunings
  • Using embodied cognition to improve music interaction design
  • Designing and testing musical instruments controlled directly by the brain.

For more information on current research projects, visit music computing.

Potential supervisors

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Dr Helen Coffey
+44 (0)1908 653280

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.