Negar Ghasemi: Deepening Musical Experiences through the Physics of Sound  

MS Music Technology 

Negar Ghasemi is a graduate student in Boyer studying Music Technology. She has lived near Temple campus since moving to Philadelphia from Iran and has been a part of various music programs involving Temple since she was 17. In her graduate work, Negar incorporates various fields of study such as psychology, politics, anatomy, and physics into her understanding of music.  

Negar Ghasemi posing with her piano

What is your degree program, and how did you come to choose Temple to guide your studies?  

As an immigrant, I ended up in Philadelphia mostly by chance. When my family moved to America from Iran, we chose Philadelphia because of the school district and the music programs that were available. We happened to move right onto Temple campus, in Yorktown – ever since then, I was familiar with Temple. I took music lessons here and had a few rehearsals on campus every year for All-City. It felt like a big thing for me, stepping into Presser for the first time, as it was the first music school I’d ever walked into. I decided to attend Temple for undergrad as I already had those roots in the Philadelphia music community and wanted to grow from there.   

How did you choose the graduate program you are in now?  

During undergrad, I began to feel a bit alienated from the idea of piano performance. I didn’t feel as though I was built for the juries or being onstage – I realized that a lot of the backstage roles mattered more to me. I decided that I needed to take the opportunity for my own development, to transform the meaning of piano for myself. I started to spend more time with touch and experimenting with texture in music, especially because I have loved impressionist art since I was a kid. I started to focus on the connection between muscles and the sound that you get from the action of the piano, and when I found out I could study psychoacoustics, I reached out to the chair of the master's program, and he recommended that I begin taking courses in music technology.  

What sort of impact do you hope to have in your field?  

When you’re an artist, a lot of things get tied together, especially politics. I believe it's impossible to be an artist without having a political stance. I also think that the music industry is starving for science. If you want to be a performer, you have to know the anatomy of your hands, the same as a dancer needs to know the anatomy of their body. It’s important for people in the music industry to understand the connection between sound and science. Music is a beautiful, abstract thing, but we need to remember that sound is science. By using science to guide our intentions with sound, we can create music that has the greatest effect on one’s emotions and psychology. I want more people in the music industry to think about that. 

How do you find community at Temple? 

Coming to Temple was like finding a family that I felt a lack of upon my immigration. Philadelphia is a diverse city, but it can be frightening for an immigrant who doesn’t have a big community of their own in the city. There were not many Iranian students at Temple when I started, but the community has grown a lot since then. I also love how all the professors and students in the music department at Temple really seem to care about and value mental health, culture, politics, and sociological thought. 

What advice do you have for potential grad students at Temple? 

Don’t come to grad school just because you want a degree. Come if you feel like you really want to learn something, and don’t assume you know exactly what your path will look like, because everything can change!