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Queen Mary researcher awarded fellowship to develop a new generation of digital musical instruments

Dr Andrew McPherson has been awarded a Senior Research Fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering to improve the richness and nuance of digital musical instruments.

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Dr Andrew McPherson
Dr Andrew McPherson

Despite steady advances in computational modelling of acoustic instrument sounds, digital instruments still lag far behind their traditional counterparts in the nuance of interaction. Through this fellowship, Dr McPherson aims to develop a new generation of digital musical instruments whose richness and subtlety match the best acoustic instruments, making them suitable for expert and novice performers alike.

In collaboration with a consortium of three industrial partners—Augmented Instruments Ltd, the BeagleBoard Foundation and Texas Instruments—Dr McPherson will develop high-performance computing tools for working with sensors and audio that can be integrated into new instruments.

This cross-disciplinary project incorporates electronic engineering, human–computer interaction and arts practice and aims to make computing accessible to creators without a specialist technical background.

Dr McPherson, Reader in Digital Media at Queen Mary, said: “We've only begun to scratch the surface of the kinds of musical instruments that are possible with the latest embedded hardware systems. I'm excited about making rich new creative tools which not only support new kinds of music-making but can also teach us more about human cognition and human–computer interaction.”

Building industry-academia partnerships

The fellowship is one of four new joint industry–academia research partnerships announced by the Academy that will tackle some complex engineering challenges. It is hoped the senior research fellowships will enhance links between academia and businesses with each of the prestigious five-year positions co-sponsored by an industrial partner.

Commenting on the appointments, Professor Karen Holford FREng CBE FLSW, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University and Chair of the Academy’s Research Committee, says: “Every year I find myself amazed and encouraged by the ingenuity and engineering excellence shown by our awardees and the sheer range of challenges that they are helping to address to improve so many aspects of our daily lives. Fostering collaboration between expert engineering researchers and industry is something to which the Academy has always been committed and the internationally renowned centres of research excellence developed over the past 20 years of this scheme are testimony to its importance for UK engineering research and innovation.”

More information


For media information, contact:

Sophie McLachlan
Faculty Communications Manager (Science and Engineering)
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