Building a cigar box guitar

Wednesday 14 Oct 15
by Eva Helena Andersen


Jeremy Marozeau
Groupleader, Associate Professor
DTU Health Tech
+45 45 25 47 90


Efren Fernandez Grande
Associate Professor
DTU Electro
+45 45 25 39 40
Lately the Skylab has been occupied every Wednesday with students from the Master of Acoustical Engineering building music instruments. Cigar box guitars, to be more exact.

This project is part of the new master course called: Music Technology and Music Perception and the goal of this course is to train acoustical engineers to work on musical applications.
"Music and acoustics are strongly linked: from designing a loudspeaker, a concert hall or to build a musical instrument. It is therefore important for each acoustician to have a basic knowledge of music theory in order to be able to communicate with musicians, music listeners or sound engineers. So they will have to understand their needs and speak the same language,” the teacher Jeremy Marozeau explains.
Jeremy Marozeau had a pedagogical vision and went to DTU Skylab, which is a cross-disciplinary hub and community for students to come up with new ideas and test them in workshops.

“Now these days, acousticians have lots of tools to model and objectively quantify the acoustic properties of a room or a sound generator. In the other courses the Master students learn some vocabulary tools. But the engineers should also learn to rely on their ears and not on only on the computational models. In this class they learn to build an instrument from scratch with very little indications to start with. They need to use their own ears more as a guide,” he says.

Why cigar boxes?
“They are already built as a wodden box. They have good resonance. And they all have different shapes, so no one will come out with exactly the same instrument,” Jeremy Marozeau explains.
The music course is assisted by Efren Fernadez Grande and conducted in colloaboration with the Acoustic Technology Group.
PhD students Wiebke Lamping and Andreu Paredes Gallardo from the Hearing Systems group is also assisting.
The course is now moving to second part that will cover computer music.

"The engineers should also learn to rely on their ears and not only on the computational models"
Jeremy Marozeau

The music technology and music perception course is divided in three cycles.
First, the students will study the perception of a single tone and learn to build a simple string instrument. They will learn about the effect of frequency on musical pitch and how to match in pitch two sounds.
Second, they study the musical note. The students will learn about resonances, harmonics and musical scales. They will explore the sound properties produced by the string instrument that they have built.
Finally, they study the perceptual interaction between two musical notes played simultaneously: including the consonance, the chords and musical expectation.
Read more about the course here