• Music

Victor Zappi

Assistant Professor

Being both an engineer and a musician, Victor Zappi focuses on the design and the usage of new interfaces for musical expression. How can we use today’s most advanced technologies to build novel musical instruments? In what ways can these instruments comply with and engage our physical and cognitive abilities [even beyond what traditional instruments can do]? And what new forms of musical training and practices are required to master them? In line with Northeastern’s commitment to “humanics”, Victor is trying to answer these questions by combining research in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, with Musicology, Performance Studies and Music Education.

Victor holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science Engineering from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia/Università degli studi di Genova [2012], with a dissertation on the exploration of Virtual Reality technologies in the context of music and performance. After the conclusion of his Ph.D., he continued working on immersive musical technologies at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique, Paris [France], as a member of the Sound Music Movement Interaction team. In 2013 he joined the Augmented Instruments Lab, at Queen Mary University of London [UK], where he specialized in digital musical instrument design and started to study the psycho-physiological phenomena that characterize the process of music making. Between 2015 and 2017, he worked as a research fellow at the Human Communication Technologies Lab, University of British Columbia in Vancouver [Canada]; here he focused on articulatory vocal synthesis and on the design of digital musical instruments powered by innovative physical models that blend audio and visuals.

His work as a musical instrument designer has been recognized by first prize in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s prestigious Guthman Musical Instrument Design Competition in 2018. He is also one of the designers of Bela, one of the most successful commercial platforms for the design of interactive audio applications and digital musical instruments. The outcome of his research has been published in peer-reviewed journals and conferences proceedings that span computer music, digital musical instrument design, digital signal processing, acoustics and speech synthesis. He was awarded the Best Paper recognition at the 2017 International Computer Music Conference and between 2015 and 2018 his research was supported by the highly competitive Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship. His artistic portfolio include interactive audio/visual installations and several live performances featuring the instruments he designed.

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  • Ph.D. Computer Science Engineering, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia/Università degli studi di Genova
  • B.Sc. and M.Sc., Electronic Engineering, Università degli studi di Genova


  • First prize Guthman Musical Instrument Design Competition 2018 [Instrument: Hyper Drumhead]
  • Marie Curie Fellow 2015-2018

Courses Taught

  • MUST 1220 – Introduction to Music Technology
  • MUSC 2350 – Acoustics and Psychoacoustics
  • Embedded Audio Programming

Research Interests

  • Articulatory Vocal Synthesis
  • Computational Acoustics
  • Computational Physiology
  • Digital Musical Instrument Design and Performance
  • Digital Signal Processing
  • Embedded Hardware
  • Music Pedagogy
  • Music Perception and Cognition
  • Physical Modeling
  • Virtual and Augmented Reality