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Dr. phil.

Antoine Chaigne


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Antoine Chaigne is a former student of the Ecole Normale Superieure in Cachan (France). He obtained his PhD in 1981 and his Habiitation to supervise research in 1987 at the University of Strasbourg (France). He was Professor of Acoustics at Telecom ParisTech (1985-2000) and Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department at ENSTA ParisTech (2000-2014). 

Antoine Chaigne's main field of research is musical acoustics. He is particularly interested in the modeling of strings and percussive instruments. He has published over 40 papers in international peer-reviewed journals and 3 books. He gave more than 100 presentations in congresses and conferences, including over 40 invited talks and seminars.


Scientific Work:

The ambition of the PAPA (Predictive Approach in Piano Acoutics) project is to establish links between physical piano design parameters and tone quality. The considered parameters are related to the geometrical data and material properties of the constitutive parts of the instrument. The project focuses on the vibratory and acoustical phenomena from the blow of the hammer against the strings to the radiated sound. The key mechanism and the interaction with the player, as well as the effects of the room, are left aside in this study. The results are expected to pave the way for a predictive approach, where the tone quality of the instruments can be controlled on the basis of a physical model, thus reducing the part of empiricism.

During the two-years time of the project, the objective is to study a small number of selected instruments, with clearly representative and distinct tone qualities. Each instrument will be described by a set of parameters related to hammer, strings, bridges and soundboard properties. To achieve this, an original method is proposed, composed of three steps: dedicated experiments will be first conducted on significantly different modern and historical instruments in order to extract the values of the parameters. In a second step, these measured data will serve as input parameters for the simulation of piano tones. The simulations are based on a global model of a grand piano, which was recently developed at ENSTA ParisTech (France). This software will be used throughout the project, and continuing developments of the model will be made. By means of these simulations, we wish to evaluate the influence of the piano parameters on tone quality, and to predict the musical effects of structural modifications. Finally, comparisons in the form of listening tests will be made between measured and simulated tones in order to check the relevance of the model, and to determine the thresholds of variations of some parameters for which the listeners are sensitive.

This project belongs to the field of musical acoustics which is a multidisciplinary domain ranging from the physics to sound perception. In addition, IWK has collaborations with museums who agree to participate to the project by letting us conduct experiments on historical instruments. Last but not least, the environment in a Music University (MDW) is particularly appropriate for rewarding interaction with musicians.

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