Music engineering

Music engineering as we see it relates to anything that has to do with the creation and the perception of sound. Such sounds can be of any type. It can be conventional music, electronic music, contemporary sound art, everyday sounds like animal voices or even traffic noise, and more. It is therefore not necessary to be able to play a musical instrument to participate in a music engineering project.

Students from the course at a final concert.
Students from the course at a final concert.

Music engineering projects can focus on, for example, technical or artistic aspects, material science, health and safety, electronics, composition of sound and music, or they can be investigating human sound perception. More concretely, you can build your own musical instrument, be it acoustic or electronic, you can use artificial intelligence to analyse or create sounds, or you can investigate the human physiological response to different sounds by means of electroencephalography.

General information

The music engineering course starts with an introductory phase that comprises four compulsory workshops on:

  • Acoustic music instruments (Jens Ahrens): Learn about the basic physics behind acoustic musical instruments, including hands-on experiments with building and playing them.
  • Electronic music instruments (Palle Dahlstedt): Introduction to sound synthesis and how to control it with physical interfaces.
  • Musique concrète: Music from everyday sounds (Palle Dahlstedt): Learn how any sound from any acoustic source can be used to create music, as in the genre musique concrète, originating in France in the early 1950s. You will compose a small piece yourself, to be performed in a mini-concert.
  • Human sound and music perception (Alf-Erik Almstedt, Jens Ahrens): Introduction to how we perceive sound and music, both low-level phenomena such as pitch and loudness, and more high-level musical phenomena such as timbre and swing.

After the introductory phase is done, projects will be defined, and project teams will be formed. We will put particular emphasis on forming the teams such that they are interdisciplinary and that the members’ skills complement each other.

There is no strict deadline for the completion of a project, but in the end of the course all projects will be presented during a dedicated exhibition/performance event.


As you have learned, music engineering projects can span a broad range of topics and competences. It is therefore difficult to make an explicit list of the skills that you should be bringing into the project. It all depends on what you would like to do:

If you would like to investigate technology driven music performance, then it is useful if you have experience with music performance. If you would like to build a musical instrument, it will be useful have either crafting or programming skills. If you would like to investigate the human perception of soundscapes, then it would be favorable if you have some amount of knowledge on this.

We therefore leave it to your personal judgement if you feel qualified for the project that you are envisioning. Both bachelor and master’s students are welcome.

How to apply

We have to limit the number of students due to practical reasons. We can therefore not guarantee that everyone can participate. To apply for the music engineering Tracks course, send a personal motivation letter no longer than one A4 page to Jens Ahrens (


Teachers: Mats Ander, Alf-Erik Almstedt, Jens Ahrens, Palle Dahlstedt
Course dates: Study period 3 & 4, 2024
Credits: 7.5 ECTS (Advanced level)

Course code: TRA320
Application deadline: Closed for applications.

MTS course

Music on the curriculum

​​A course about music, where students compose tunes and build their own instruments. At Chalmers University of Technology. How is that possible? (Article about the course)