Funding Opportunities 2019

PhD and MRes Opportunities at Queen’s

We are delighted to announce a number of PhD and MRes (Masters by Research) funded opportunities at Queen’s University Belfast in the areas of Musicology, Composition and Sonic Arts.

Rated a 4* research environment in the Research Excellence Framework (2014), postgraduate research ranges from practice-based work to scholarly, historical and highly interdisciplinary collaboration with disciplines such as Electrical Engineering, Psychology and Anthropology. Based in the School of Arts, English and Languages, the postgraduate community has access to a breath of supervision expertise and world class facilities including the Music Building the Sonic Arts Research Centre and Queen’s Graduate School.  You are encouraged to contact potential supervisors prior to application. 

MRes candidates applying through the portal will be eligible for three £3000 bursaries. Candidates have to demonstrate that they have met any condition attached to their offer (either through uploading full transcripts or official documentation regarding any other condition required) by 15th July 2019.

Information on funding schemes for PhD including international studentships are now open to applications and can be found here. Please note the deadline of 28th February 2019 for International Studentships. All applications are made through Queen’s University Belfast direct application portal. https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php

The following projects are strategic interdisciplinary areas of interest. 

PhD title: Virtual-Acoustic Plate Instrument Design
Supervisors: Dr Maarten van Walstijn, Professor Paul Stapleton, Dr Matthew Rodger

Project Description: A virtual-acoustic approach to digital musical instrument (DMI) design aims for acoustic sounding output and providing a natural alignment between control parameters and performer actions. 

Physical modelling is a good match for this purpose in terms of designing the sound synthesis algorithm. This project is focused on the design of a novel virtual-acoustic plate instrument that is highly configurable through adjusting parameters of both the model and the interface, as such allowing precise control of the instrument affordances. The instrument is intended as a tool for both music performance and experimental investigation into how musicians learn and discover new techniques on computer-based instruments; in addition, its development will also inform ongoing research that aims to improve the interactive audio aspects of virtual and augmented reality applications. 

The primary challenges that the project aims to address are (1) the development and real-time implementation of a finite-difference plate model that affords local damping control, (2) the design of a configurable mapping of high-resolution touch-sensitive screen data to the plate model grid, and (3) the evaluation of the instrument through the use in the professional practice of musicians as well as through psychology-based experiments. The student will work closely with the supervisory team who have specialist knowledge in audio engineering, interaction design, and ecological psychology as well as with expert musicians in the testing and experimentation phases of the research.

Candiate Profile: The candidate needs to have an engineering/science background that includes experience in computer programming, as well as an appreciation of the unique demands of music performance. Knowledge of acoustics and signal processing as well as previous experience in experimental psychology and in interdisciplinary research projects are highly desirable but not necessary.

Apply

PhD title: Interactive Virtual-Acoustic Spaces
Supervisors: Dr M van Walstijn, Professor P Rebelo

Project Description: Augmented reality is about imposing a designed reality upon an existing one. In an acoustic sense, this can be considered as sustaining the aural impression of being in a different space than one is physically located in, which is relevant to the improvement of virtual and augmented reality experiences currently in development for application in various fields, including music, film, museums, medicine, and architecture. The sense of sonic immersion is greatly enhanced if a virtual-acoustic space is interactive, i.e. capable of live convolution of live sound sources with realistic room responses, and the potential for social interaction is greatly enlarged if the use headphones and other worn technology can be avoided.

Realising such an augmented acoustic scenarios requires an array of microphones to capture sound sources and multi-channel spatial projection with loudspeakers to impose the virtual acoustics. However, any such setup poses severe feedback issues as well as questions about which room response features need to be faithfully reproduced. This project aims to address these challenges by investigating (1) microphone beamforming techniques to focus the array away from the loudspeakers and onto the sound sources, (2) calibration and signal processing methods to identify and attenuate frequency bands with a high loop-gain and (3) perceptual tests to inform effective use of room response modification and ambisonic panning methods. Apart from formal testing procedures, the techniques will be evaluated along practical criteria in creative settings (installations, concerts, workshops) on offer through related SARC-based research projects. The project aims to establish a methodology for creating augmented and hybrid spaces in which acoustic environment design can contribute to immersive experiences. 

Candidate Profile: The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours or equivalent for undergraduate degree in engineering, physics, maths, music technology, or a related discipline.  They will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, good computational skills, ability to think analytically and creatively. Knoweldge of acoustics, signal processing, studio recording/mixing, and music related software and programming as well as previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment are highly desirable.

Apply

PhD title: Digital Performance and Social Inclusion

Supervisors: Dr Franziska Schroeder, Dr Miguel Ortiz

Project Description: The candidate will expand research work currently undertaken in the “Performance Without Barriers” research group: performancewithoutbarriers.com . This group dedicates itself to the design of enabling technologies promoting: 

- Social inclusion through creative performance practice

- Accessible and enabling technologies

- Challenging dominant assumptions or exclusive identities

We are looking for candidates with a strong background in interface design, immersive technologies, digital performance, critical theory and / or improvisation studies.

The PhD research could be in designing new interfaces, but also in critically reflecting on all aspects of designing for and with people with different abilities. We are particularly keen to extend the research into the area of immersive, VR/AR technologies. A large part of our methodology stems from frameworks coming from improvisation studies; thus, the candidate might have a solid background in that discipline.

Candidate Profile: The successful applicant should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours or equivalent for undergraduate degree in interface design, disability studies, engineering, music technology, or a related discipline. The suitable candidate might be experienced in either interface design, VR/AR design, digital performance, improvisation studies and/or critical theory.

They will demonstrate strong interest and self-motivation in the subject, with good electronic and design skills; they will have an ability to think analytically and creatively. Knowledge of music technology, interface design, and music related software and programming as well as an interest in disability studies and music improvisation, with some previous research experience in contributing to a collaborative interdisciplinary research environment are highly desirable.

Apply


MRes title: Bow Controller Design for Digital Musical Instruments
Supervisors: Maarten van Walstijn, Paul Stapleton, Miguel Ortiz

Project Description: The focus of this project is to design and prototype a novel musical instrument bow sensing system. The primary aims are to leverage the technical abilities of string instrumentalists in the design and performance of digital musical instruments (DMIs), as well as to broaden the explorative possibilities of virtual-acoustic instruments. To achieve these goals a review of relevant literature and bow sensing systems will be conducted, followed by an iterative cycle of physical sketching, prototyping, testing and experimentation leading to refinement and validation. The student will work closely with the supervisory team who have specialist knowledge in audio engineering, interaction design and musical performance, as well as with expert musicians in the testing and experimentation phases of the research.

Candidate Profile: The candidate needs sufficient experience in the area of physical computing, as well as appreciation of the unique demands of music performance.

Apply