Dr Ajay Kapur

Dr Ajay Kapur profile picture

Senior Lecturer, Sonic Arts School of Music


BSE Princeton, PhD Vic (Br Col)


  • Senior Lecturer, Composition - Sonic Arts
  • Senior Lecturer, Composition - Music Technology


Ajay Kapur is a Lecturer in Sonic Arts at the New Zealand School of Music. He received an Interdisciplinary PhD in 2007 from University of Victoria, British Columbia combining Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Music and Psychology with a focus on Intelligence Music and Media Technology. Ajay graduated with a Bachelor in Science and Engineering Computer Science degree from Princeton University in 2002. He has been educated by music technology leaders including Dr Perry R. Cook, Dr George Tzanetakis, and Dr Andrew Schloss, combined with mentorship from robotic musical instrument sculptors Eric Singer and the world famous Trimpin. A musician at heart, trained on Drumset, Tabla, Sitar and other percussion instruments from around the world, Ajay strives to push the technological barrier in order to make new music.

Ajay's work revolves around one queston: "How do you make a computer improvise with a human?" Using the rules set forth by Indian classical tradition, Ajay has strived to build new interfaces for musical expression by modifying the tabla, dholak and sitar with added microchips and sensor systems, while building robotic musical instruments which can be programmed to perform along with the human performer.

Ajay is the founder and leader of KarmetiK, an international group of musicians, composers, scientists, engineers, and artists who have come together to combine traditional Indian Classical music with modern technology. 21st century music for the renaissance audience member,bringing the fields of human-computer interfaces together with robotics and artificial intelligence for space age sonic mosaics. The groups variety of collaborators and members have toured the United States, Canada, India, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and parts of Europe.

Composition and Sonic Arts research

Dr Ajay Kapur defines himself as a "Musical Scientist":

"The 'Scientist' in me develops experiments in computer science, electrical engineering and digital signal processing, and their use artistic practices. The 'Musician' in me gathers the current technology from my 'laboratory' into modules that can be used in the concert hall, writing modern music while blending traditional techniques."

Digitizing North Indian Music: Preservation and Extension using Multimodal Sensor Systems, Machine Learning and Robotics

VDM Verlag Dr. Muller, Germany, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-3639060973.

“The Machine Orchestra: An Ensemble of Human Laptop Performers and Robotic Musical Instruments”

with M Darling, D Diakopoulos, J Murphy, J Hochenbaum, O Vallis, and C. Bahn. The Computer Music Journal, Vol. 35 issue 4, November 2011.

“Multimodal Techniques for Human/Robot Interaction"

in Musical Robots and Interactive Multimodal Systems, Jorge Solis & Kia Ng (eds). Springer: November 2011.