The research programme Music Design focuses on the research of processes that are needed for the design of music or sound. This research programme is part of the professorship Performative Processes.

The school of HKU Music and Technology, of which the Research Programme Music Design is part, organised the ICMC conference together with Gaudeamus Muziekweek in september 2016. ICMC stands for International Computer Music Conference and the programme offered installations, lectures, papers, discussion panels and workshops, as well as several exciting concerts. Read the proceedings of the conference(pdf), browse through the programme guide (pdf) or visit the event website.

Music design as a research programme

The Music Design research programme investigates the different creative processes involved in music design in the broadest sense of the word:  whether composing a piece of music or designing sounds. We gather specific knowledge about music design, the processes involved and the ways in which we can convey them within the whole professional field – in music education, for example. We also develop interactive and innovative applications of music design and help others to do so, for example in the gaming industry, healthcare and education. The programme can be summed up in three themes: Focus on the music design process, Music design and interaction, and Music design and education.

Music Design Processes

The music and sound design process is not a standard process, but differs for each situation. For instance, designing film music is a different process to designing music for a game, if only because of the different forms of collaboration involved. Designing a system where digital samples of violin sounds adjust to the phase and context of the composition requires a different process than designing a particular sound to indicate whether a vacuum cleaner is full or empty. Each of these processes requires a different design strategy, technique and/or method. The programme researches and describes these processes as a basis for trying to create building blocks with a broader use. Read the results of this programme.

Music design and interaction

Music and sound can be designed for interactive use. In the project ‘Klinken­de Pleinen’ (Sounding Squares), for example, research is done into the behaviour of sound on a town square if you place particular objects on it. Through this, you can consciously change the auditive and spatial experience of a square. Another project, carried out in an audiovisual treatment room, researches the influence of sounds and images on the behaviour of autistic children. In order to be able to experiment with interactive design processes, HKU has developed a laboratory that focuses specifically on interaction: the Sonic Interaction Lab (SiLab), which can be used by both researchers and students. Read the results of this programme.

Music design and education

Music design processes are also used for educational purposes. For example, HKU has developed digital design products like and Luisterminuut, which are used in music education. In Tanzania and Zambia, students learn how they can use digital technology to produce contemporary hiphop or trance from traditional music patterns and sounds. This breathes new life into historical cultural values. Read the results of this programme.


For more information about the Music Design Research Program please contact programme leader Jeroen van Iterson (pictured above) or Martijn van Gessel.

Ina Boudier-Bakkerlaan 50
3582 VA Utrecht

Tel. +31-30-2520334