Music & Media Technologies, 1996-2023
Dermot Furlong has recently retired from his position as Course Director and Associate Professor (department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering) on the Music and Media Technologies (MMT) programme in Trinity College, of which he was involved in defining and founding in 1996. Dermot retired in September 2023.
We would like to pay tribute to Dermot's achievements in his career on this programme and to thank him profusely for the great work he has done in steering the programme from its first intake of students in 1996, right up to the students taking the course in September 2023. So first, a big thank you from all the MMT staff and all the past and present and future MMT students. Students have gained an immensely valuable education in all matters pertaining to music and audio in technology, production, academic research and creative practice, and students are well prepared for their musical path in life going forward.
Dermot has overseen the inclusion of the latest cutting edge technologies to be included in the programme from the humble DVD of 1996, to the binaural headphone, interactive technologies, a state of the art music studio and to the recent inclusion of VR technologies.
Words from Past Students and Colleagues
Donnacha Dennehy who was one of the first lecturers on the Music and Media Technology course, and together with Dermot defined the inaugural programme of studies into music and media technology. He shares with us the legacy of Dermot's contribution to the field, MMT and to Trinity College.
"Determined, enlightened and rigorous, it is hard to imagine Music Technology ever taking root at Trinity without the irreplaceable Dermot Furlong. It was his brainchild, and he steered it into existence, persevering in creating this wonderful ecosystem that establishes links between engineering and music, psychoacoustics and composition, scientific system and creative freedom. I can’t believe that Dermot, ever energetic, is at retiring age. The silver lining, I suppose, is that he can now truly dedicate himself to those books that he most definitely has in him!
I can’t wait to read the first volumes. His inspiring enthusiasm for communicating the intricacies of psychoacoustics in the clearest and most compelling ways is infectious. He brought this field to life at Trinity through the last quarter of a century, influencing scores of composers, musicians and engineers, and it would be wonderful to see his thoughts on this subject now reaching the even wider audience that Dermot truly deserves."
Enda Bates is now the Course Director for the M.Phil in Music and Media Technologies programme and he is fortunate to be building on Dermot's legacy. Enda is bringing his unique talents to the programme along with his MMT colleagues, to continue to build and develop music and media technologies in Trinity College.
It is difficult to express how much of an influence Dermot Furlong has had on my life, and on so many others. It’s been nearly 20 years now, but his lectures on psychoacoustics and spatial sound utterly changed how I thought about music, and profoundly influenced everything I have done since. He has been my mentor for nearly two decades and his constant encouragement, support and deep insights into music, sound, and perception changed my life utterly and is a continuing inspiration. I can’t wait to see what he does next!”
Martin Walsh shares his good wishes for Dermot for his next chapter.
Dermot served as my supervisor during my PhD in the mid 90’s. During this time, he helped me become a better researcher, a better writer and maybe even a better man. We’ve remained friends ever since and he remains one of a handful of people I will always try to connect with when I return to visit The Auld Sod (as I have come to call him). I continue to learn from his authentic perspectives on life, and I owe a lot of the good fortune in my life and my career to his belief in a gobshite like me once upon a time.
Your impact is huge, Dermot! Wishing you the very best as you start the first page of the next chapter.
Gavin Kearney was one of Dermot's PhD students and captures the legacy that Dermot has brought to so many students and staff who have worked with him over the years, and how he has had such major life influence on.
Dermot Furlong has enjoyed a distinguished career in audio and music technology, earning him an international reputation synonymous with excellence. As founder of the groundbreaking MSc in Music and Media Technologies programme at Trinity, he has had a profound impact on the creative technologies landscape in Ireland, inspiring countless musicians and engineers to push the boundaries between science and art.
I feel enormously privileged to have had Dermot as a supervisor during my time as a postgraduate researcher at Trinity. I know I am not alone in expressing that his guidance and friendship have been a major life-influence to so many. His passion for music technology, fuelled by a limitless knowledge of acoustics and psychoacoustics, has always been a constant source of inspiration to me.
I wish to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Dermot on his outstanding career and the remarkable legacy he leaves behind, and to wholeheartedly thank him for being such an incredibly positive driving force to the many students and staff who have passed through the MMT programme.
George Higgs is a past MMT student and went onto do a PhD with Dermot, and in an amazing tribute shares with us those great qualities of support and knowledge and manner that are unique to Dermot and which has changed peoples lives.
There are many people in this world who have had statues made of them who didn't deserve them: Stalin and Hitler are two that come to mind (and probably eventually that dreadful ex-president of the USA who shall remain nameless). These were decisive men, full of misguided conviction, who changed peoples lives, but almost invariably for the worse. Fortunately, most of these statues have been pulverised to insignificant dust.
I've long been saying that Dermot Furlong deserves a statue. He changed a lot of lives and always for the better. Except maybe after he read your first PhD draft, but we needed the truth.
Dermot is incredibly humble, yet unbelievably brilliant. He'll tell you he knows little about music, but he understands the essence of tone better than anyone I've encountered. Ask him about bells.
Dermot is brutal only in his frankness (see above PhD), but that is because he truly is a great teacher and will make every effort to bring the best out in his students. I shouldn't speak for others, but for me his candour (occasionally scary) was intellectual salvation. I needed it and can't thank him enough.
But Dermot isn't in the least way difficult or captious (except he might give you a funny look when you first mention an idea). In fact, it's likely that Dermot's most significant quality is kindness. He always has a smile for me when I walk into his office. Sitting across from him on those wheeled office chairs, we've had so many laughs together. Far from the stereotype of a dry and dogmatic engineer, Dermot and I have excitedly talked for hours about music, science and (alas!) phenomenology (he taught me what it was) with jokes and anecdotes, like many men talk about sports.
Dermot has brought so many of us together. All the people that passed through MMT share a spirit of curiosity that he helped nurture in us. I wouldn't know half the brilliant individuals I do if it weren't for this man.
I have so much to thank Dermot Furlong for and I know I'm not alone.
So from all of us that have known him during his career at MMT and otherwise, let's raise our glasses, and hopefully one day a statue, to Dermot Furlong.
Maura McDonnell pays tribute to the unique way that Dermot has supported students over the years and was fortunate to be a past MMT student, to have had Dermot as her PhD supervisor and has been a colleague teaching on the MMT programme.
I was a student on the very first intake of students for the MMT in 1996. There were 12 of us that participated in the inaugural two year programme, and we had such an amazing experience. The place, the new technologies, the new knowledge, the people, the space, the music, the machines and the settings. Dermot's design of the programme and his unwavering belief in bringing together an ethos of creative innovation and experimentation with scientific and engineering knowledge was unshakable and incredibly life enhancing for all of us who encountered this amazing education experience of MMT. That encouragement, was at the root of his encounters with whoever came to his door for support or advice and was a thread running through all his lectures. I saw so many times and experienced it myself, Dermot's encouragement of students to be brave, courageous, work hard, and keep on moving onwards and upwards. His breadth of knowledge encompassed so many disciplines from literature to art and music to philosophy and the humble old brain, as well as audio and engineering. I am very indebted to Dermot's belief in students who attended the MMT course, because such belief inspires one to try out new things and through this programme, many students have done just that. Thank you Dermot for leading such an amazing programme, for your mentorship and support during my PhD and for being a brilliant colleague. I look forward to you now going onwards and upwards in your own projects and activities and to having a really brilliant time going forward.
Dermot Furlong Biography
Dermot Furlong studied Engineering Science in Trinity College Dublin with a particular personal focus on electronics, acoustics, and audio engineering. He subsequently worked as a corporate engineer in the U.S. and Ireland before returning to Trinity as a lecturer so that he could engage in further research on audio and music related issues. His area of particular interest is that of architectural acoustics, spatial audio perception and its significance for music recording technique. In 1995 he was involved in the definition of the postgraduate Music and Media Technologies programme in Trinity, for which he was Course Director. His current research interests relate to the development of audio engineering technologies derived from musical and cognitive concerns. He is a member of the Audio Engineering Society, the Acoustical Society of America, and EU Cognition.
Watch this space
We are looking forward to keeping in touch with what Dermot does next and updates will be put on this page going forward. Here are some links to Dermot's research and a brilliant Irish Times article from the early days in 1998.
- Irish Times Article in 1998 - Chips with music... Multi-media, man! Audio-engineering, cool! Not to mention psychoacoustics, digital signal processing and algorithmic composition…
- Research list - Research