Room Number: 1.402.34
Research Interests: Music Acoustics, Voice Science, Audio Processing AI
Announcements (August 2018)
PhD Opportunity: If you have a strong background in Physics or Engineering and keen to undertake research projects in Music Acoustics, Speech Acoustics, Bioacoustic Diagnostics or Interdisciplinary Acoustics at SUTD, please contact me. A range of fully funded PhD Scholarships are available.
Research Student Assistant: I am looking for keen students to assist in an organological survey of various Asian musical instruments. The student assistant should be conversant with basic signal processing techniques and MATLAB, and also skilled in the design and fabrication of mechanical testing rigs. Proficiency with some of these musical instruments would be preferred but is not a requirement. Remuneration will be generous, on an hourly basis, and commitment is flexible.
Research Student Assistant: I am looking for keen students to assist in surveying the acoustic phonetics of Asian languages. The student assistant should be conversant with basic signal processing techniques and MATLAB, and have a working knowledge of basic speech science. Proficiency with these languages is not required but would be helpful. Remuneration will be generous, on an hourly basis, and commitment is flexible.
Dr. Chen Jer-Ming is an assistant professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), following his previous appointment as Australian Post-Doctoral (APD) research fellow (Australian Research Council) at the Music Acoustics Laboratory, University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
Combining a passion for music with a background in mechanical engineering and applied physics, Jer-Ming’s primary research interest is music acoustics and speech science. His contributions to the field have been widely recognized, including a paper published in the journal ‘Science’, co-receiving the 2010 “Excellence in Acoustics Award “ from the Australian Acoustical Society, and being nominated a Lindau Fellow for the 60th Interdisciplinary Meeting of Nobel Laureates (2010).
A believer in science communication, Jer-Ming has also written lay-language scientific papers, established a saxophone acoustics database for players, and has featured in the international media and popular press, including newspapers (e.g. New York Times, UK Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald), TV & radio documentaries (BBC, ABC, Network Ten), popular science magazines (Physics Today, Scientific American, The Straight Dope), and even presented for a children’s science program (Scope by Network Ten & CSIRO, Australia).
Further, Jer-Ming is an accomplished musician, composer and arranger, and performs on musical instruments from several musical traditions, seeking to push the overlapping boundaries of music, science and technology. When not in the laboratory or making music, he enjoys meeting new cultures and good friends over a cup of Darjeeling.
- PhD in Physics (Music Acoustics), University of New South Wales, 2010
- Master of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 2004
- Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), Mechanical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 2002
My primary interest is the physics of music – Musical Acoustics. A fundamental puzzle in the field is to understand how and why certain musical performances sound so remarkable – Is it the instrument? Or the performer? Or perhaps it is in their interaction? To find out, I study various modes of music performance, the player’s interaction with the instrument and the physics involved. A related puzzle is that of the human voice as used in speech and singing: activities fundamental to human communication and expression, but still not well understood yet in terms of the physical mechanisms responsible.
- Music Acoustics: Vocal tract interactions in woodwind and brass performance
- Voice Acoustics: Tracking acoustic properties of the vocal tract during speech
- Audio Processing AI: Bioacoustic signals for medical diagnostic screening
- Other interests: Music performance and player-instrument interaction; Acoustic phonetics; Ethnomusic organology; Cryogenic materials processing
Journal Publications (selected)
- Wolfe, J., Chu, D., Chen, J.-M. and Smith, J. (2016). “An Experimentally Measured Source-Filter Model: Glottal Flow, Vocal Tract Gain and Output Sound from a Physical Model,” Acoustics Australia, DOI 10.1007/s40857-016-0046-7
- Li, W., Chen, J.-M., Smith, J. and Wolfe, J. (2015). “Vocal tract resonances and the timbre of the saxophone,” Acta Acustica united with Acustica, 101, 270-278
- Chen, J.-M., Smith, J. and Wolfe, J. (2014). “The Effect of Nearby Timpani Strokes on Horn Playing,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 135(1), 472-478 (accompanying material here)
- Chen, J.-M., Smith, J. and Wolfe, J. (2012). “Do trumpet players tune resonances of the vocal tract?,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 131(1), 722-727
- Chen, J.-M., Smith, J. and Wolfe, J. (2011). “Saxophonists tune vocal tract resonances in advanced performance techniques,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 129(1), 415-426
- Chen, J.-M., Smith, J. and Wolfe, J. (2009). “Pitch bending and glissandi on the clarinet: roles of the vocal tract and partial tone hole closure,” Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 125(3), 1511-1520
- Chen, J.-M., Smith, J. and Wolfe, J. (2009). “Saxophone acoustics: introducing a compendium of impedance and sound spectra“, Acoustics Australia 37, 18-23
- Chen, J.-M., Smith, J. and Wolfe, J. (2008). “Experienced Saxophonists Learn to Tune their Vocal Tracts“, Science, 319(5864), 726
- Chen, J.-M., Seah, K.H., Chew, C.H. (2006). “Mechanical Characterization of Cryogenically Treated Music Wire”, Journal of ASTM International, 3(4), published online
- Jer Ming Chen, John Smith and Joe Wolfe (2011). “Chapter 21: Experienced Saxophonists Learn to Tune Their Vocal Tracts”, Human Communication Science: A Compendium, edited by Robert Dale, Denis Burnham and Catherine J. Stevens, ARC Research Network in Human Communication Science (ISBN: 978-1-74138-363-8), Australia, 441-445
- Salleh M. Nor, Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam, Normi M. Yahaya, Chen Jer Ming, Oh Pei Ching, Siti N. Abu Bakar, and Nitia K. Samuel (2011). Educated, Inspired, Connected: the Malaysian Experience at the 60th Nobel Laureate Meeting at Lindau, Akademi Sains Malaysia (ISBN: 978-983-9445-61-9), Kuala Lumpur
Awards & Achievements (selected)
- International Congress of Acoustics (ICA) 2013 Montréal: Acoustical Society of America WIA-Committee Young Investigator Travel Grant, Australian Acoustical Society NSW Division Early Career Researcher Travel Award, International Commission for Acoustics Young Scientist Conference Attendance Grant
- 2011 School of Physics nominee for the UNSW University Committee Prize for Excellence in Science
- Australian Post-Doctoral Industry Research Fellow (2012-14)
- Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project Grant (LP110100570), total grant awarded: AUD$245,538, funding period 2012 to 2014.
- National finalist, representing New South Wales for the 2011 Australian Institute of Physics Bragg Gold Medal (“the best PhD thesis by a student from an Australian University”), nominated by UNSW
- The 2010 Excellence in Acoustics Award presented to the team: Joe Wolfe, Jer Ming Chen, Paul Dickens & John Smith, awarded by Bradford Insulation and the Australian Acoustical Society
- Lindau Fellow at the 60th Interdisciplinary Meeting of Nobel Laureates (2010), Lindau (Germany), nominated by the Academy of Science Malaysia
- Bosch Fellow at the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) 2010, Torino (Italy), sponsored by the Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH
- UNSW Faculty Research Grant Project (FRGP) 2009, “Acoustic Interactions in Harmonic Singing””
- Best Student Paper, Acoustics’08, Paris, awarded by the Acoustical Society of America (Chris Waltham: “The best talk I heard at the meeting… a masterly fusion of physics and artistry.”)
- Discovery Grant Postgraduate Scholarship (2006-2009), awarded by the Australian Research Council
- The National University of Singapore (NUS) Research Scholarship (2002-2004)
- Dean’s List Award (2001-2002), awarded by the National University of Singapore
Media Interviews, Science Communication and Outreach (selected)
- Harmonic Throat-Singing for “Physics of Music Special” interview podcast with Ian Woolf, Diffusion Science Radio, broadcast 3 July 2013
- Video interview for research feature story “چرا صدای ساز بعضی نوازندگان جاودانه میشود؟“(“Do musical instruments sound breathtaking because of its players?”), BBC Persian Channel, released 15 Mar 2012
- Featured researcher for the UNSW Faculty of Science Research Highlights 2012 magazine (p. 52), Feb 2012
- Televised interview in Lindau (Germany) with the Malaysian delegation at the 60th Interdisciplinary Meeting of Nobel Laureates (2010), including interviewing Nobel Laureate Roger Tsien (Chemistry, 2008), on behalf of Astro Awani (Malaysia), aired Sept 2010
- Feature story “Malaysian Young Scientists attend Nobel Laureate Meeting“, Sin Chew Daily (Malaysia), 19 Jun 2010
- “Cryogenic Treatment of Music Wire” research featured on syndicated popular question-and-answer newspaper column The Straight Dope, published in the Chicago Reader (Cecil Adams, “Can cryogenic cooling miraculously improve car parts, sports equipment, and musical instruments?“, 16 Jan 2009)
- Established the online Saxophone Acoustics Database: www.phys.unsw.edu.au/music/saxophone/
- Promotional video for HCSNet, the Australian Research Council’s network in Human Communication Science
- Feature story “S’pore student can prove who has the most sax appeal:”, The New Paper (Singapore), 1 Aug 2008
- Featured lay-language paper “How to play the first bar of Rhapsody in Blue“, written for the Acoustical Society of America World-Wide Press Room, presented 1 Jul 2008 at Acoustics’08 Paris
- Documentary feature story “Sax Appeal“, Catalyst by Australian Broadcasting Corporation, aired 17 Apr 2008
- MCA Bulletin News “Found: the Key to Great Sax“, the Music Council of Australia, 10 Feb 2008
- Feature story “Guide to Good Sax“, on Features, News and Events (UNSWTV), University of New South Wales
- “Experienced Saxophonists Learn to Tune their Vocal Tracts” research story interviewed and released by:
- The New York Times (Kenneth Chang, “The Physics of Coltrane’s Technique“, 12 Feb 2008)
- BBC News (Pallab Ghosh, Radio Interview, Feb 2008)
- UK Telegraph (Roger Highfield, “Secret of John Coltrane’s high notes revealed“, 7 Feb 2008)
- Scientific-American (JR Minkel, “The Key to Great Sax“, 7 Feb 2008)
- ABC News (Stephen Pincock, “Physicist discovers how sax players hit high notes“, 8 Feb 2008)
- Sydney Morning Herald (Deborah Smith, “Secrets of sax appeal revealed“, 8 Feb 2008)
- LiveScience: Science News (Charles Q. Choi, “Secret to Sexy Saxophonists Revealed“, 7 Feb 2008)
- The Why Files: The Science Behind the News (David Tenenbaum, “The Sound of Sax“, 7 Feb 2008)
- Wissenschaft (Ilka Lehnen-Beyel, “Was Saxophon-Virtuosen von blutigen Anfängern unterscheidet“, 8 Feb 2008)
- Spiegel (“Saxophonisten spielen mit dem Stimmapparat”, 8 Feb 2008)
- NRC Handelsblad (Margriet van der Heijden, “Fysici onthullen het geheim van een goede saxofonist”, 9 Feb 2008)
- Fox News (“Secret to Sexy Saxophonists Revealed“, 8 Feb 2008)
- WebMD, CBS News (Miranda Hitti, Louise Chang, “Sax Tip: Practice Makes Perfect“, 7 Feb 2008)
- Physics Today (SKB, “Saxophonists tune vocal tracts“, Mar 2008, p. 19)
- Guest presenter for “Science of Music” episode, Scope by Network Ten (Australia) & CSIRO, aired Sep 2007