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Grant funds innovative engineering and music course

Ever wanted to build a synthesizer? Or create your own digital drum set? Or learn how to sing without paying for voice lessons?

There’s an app for that—or there soon will be, thanks to Tufts engineers and a pioneering course they have devised.

Music Apps for the iPad is just the sort of innovative course in computer science and computer engineering that will benefit—by ripple effect—from the opening of the new Steve Tisch Sports and Fitness Center.

Computer education at Tufts already includes a minor in music engineering with a focus on music and technology; the Music Apps for the iPad course is an innovative opportunity to include students outside of that minor. Music Lecturer Paul Lehrman, AG10, and Computer Science Lecturer Ming Chow, E02, EG04, teamed up last spring to create a course that would foster musical composition skills and competition while teaching mobile development, hopefully resulting in the creation of commercially viable apps that would set talented students on the path to early business success.

Funded by a grant from Steinway Musical Instruments Inc., makers of the legendary pianos, the course was an instant hit. “It was oversubscribed twice within a few hours,” says Chow. Final projects ranged from sound mixers to auto-soundtrack systems that can detect the mood of YouTube videos and suggest a soundtrack from a library of music, and even to a method for building and playing any kind of musical scale imaginable and changing it on the fly.

Chow says he was grateful to Steinway for “enabling a new generation to play music and share it with people all over the world.”