Science and Music

Head: Jean-François Petiot


The Science and Music option focuses on a specific sector, namely music, covering the main aspects from a scientific perspective: how musical instruments work, recording and distributing music, managing music databases and new methods of broadcasting and recommending music.
The option offers students who are highly motivated by music (e.g. accomplished players of a musical instrument), and intending to pursue an engineering career in this sector, the opportunity to acquire the necessary skills. Whilst there is no set requirement as to prior musical training or performance (musical instrument, composition, sound techniques), strong motivation and an open mind are essential.

Building on the core-curriculum courses, (continuum mechanics, mechanical vibrations, materials, fluid mechanics, signal processing, computer science, numerical analysis) and computer science specialisations (programming, digital processing, virtual reality), the option aims to train the students in the methods, tools and techniques providing a scientific approach to the different sectors of activity linked to music:

-    Acoustics of musical instruments - instrument making
-    recording/audio processing/sound recording
-    sound engineering
-    computer music
-    management of musical databases
-    new methods of large-scale music recommendation 

Course Content

1) Experimental Method in Psychology *
2) Digital Music *
3) Acoustics - Signal - Psychoacoustics *
4/ Musical Acoustics
5/ Project

* courses taught jointly with the 'Perception and sound design' option.

The project topic, which can be proposed by the students themselves, covers the different elements explored in the option:

-    the physics of musical instruments, physical models
-    innovative musical instruments
-    equipping listening areas
-    sound recording, mixing, implementation of a music project
-    automatic score writing
-    tools for browsing and creating music based on web services
-    MIR

Projects can be undertaken in partnership with different companies or institutions:

-    Quartier de la Création cluster, Nantes
-    Le Pont Supérieur (higher education centre for dance, theatre and music)
-    ITEMM, (European technological institution for the music professions), Le Mans
-    LAUM (Acoustics Laboratory of the University of Maine), Le Mans
-    IRCAM (Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music), Paris
-    McGill University (Montreal)
-    Local companies: Activeaudio, Woodbrass, Harpes Camac

Sectors of activity and employment prospects

Opportunities exist across different sectors of activity within various structures (company, start-up, institution):
  • Instrument design, production monitoring, innovation
  • Equipping listening areas
  • Sound-synthesising software - digital audio processing, music production
  • Music and emotion - neurosciences
  • Music Information Retrieval (MIR) (recommendation systems, transcription, categorisation)
  • New supports for broadcasting music
  • Research (master, PhD)
Published on March 4, 2016 Updated on February 6, 2018