This team works to make Korean art song (가곡) more accessible to English speakers. We have collected a large number of Korean composed song scores and are in the process of creating English translations, phoneticizations, spoken recordings of these song texts, and organizing these materials into an accessible database.

My goal is to make Korean art song more accessible to English speakers by developing translations and phonetics to aid singers and pianists in study for performance. While we continue to acquire Korean composed musical scores, we’ve amassed quite a collection already. Now we’re working to build a database about the songs’ vocal range, composer, poet, instrumentation, and if the song has an accessible recording. Using existing translations, we have built a poetic English/Korean translation dictionary. Texts need to be translated into English and historic or cultural references given footnotes with explanations. The texts need phonetics developed in the International Phonetic Alphabet, which is a common language that voice students learn. The texts need to be spoken and recorded by native speakers to create practice tracks. The team works systematically through the collection, but may also pivot at times to create materials quickly for a particular student or upcoming performance. The goal of this project is to develop materials that I can use to teach a class on Korean lyric diction and art song. I hope to eventually make our database of translations, phonetics, and spoken recordings available to the public.

Meeting Time
Wednesdays or Fridays, 4:30-6:00pm
In-person (interested in the project but unable to be on campus? Contact us to inquire!)

Students apply to a specific role on team as follows:

Phonetic Transcription (2 Students)

Preferred Skills: Knowledge of Korean, preferably a knowledge of IPA (materials exist to learn)

Likely Majors/Minors: KRSTD, LING, VOICE

Korean Poetry & Culture (Translation) (2 Students)

Preferred Skills: Knowledge of Korean language, interest in poetry and translations


Music Research (1 Student)

Preferred Skills: Ability to read music to note vocal range, conducting internet searches for existing recordings

Likely Majors/Minors: MUSICOL, PIANO, SI, VOICE

Korean Speaking (2 Students)

Preferred Skills: Native or bilingual Korean fluency, comfort creating spoken recordings, ability to read western music notation is a plus

Likely Majors/Minors: ASIAN, KRSTD 

Tools Engineer (3 Students)

Preferred Skills: App building experience, knowledge of Natural Language Processing and machine learning; knowledge of Korean is necessary; preferred third, fourth, or graduate level students

Likely Majors/Minors: ASIAN, CE, CS, EE, KRSTD, LING, ME, ROB, SI

Graphic Designer (1 Student)

Preferred Skills: Knowledge about and experience with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop; work on the team will be to design website scheme.

Likely Majors/Minors: ARTDES, SI

Data Management (1 Student)

Preferred Skills: Organizing and developing searchable web based databases and applications, interfacing with other databases and networked systems.

Likely Majors/Minors: DATA, SI

Faculty Project Lead

Matthew Thompson, joined the SMTD faculty in 2011 and is Assistant Professor of Music and Associate Faculty with the U-M Center for Japanese Studies. A passionate educator, Thompson was recently described by a former student as “giving one of the most wholesome, nerdy, epic-but-modest unicorn professor experiences you’ll ever find at U-M.” Dr. Thompson is active as both a pianist and a vocal coach. His pioneering pedagogy and research using video game music have established him as an authority in this burgeoning and interdisciplinary academic field.

A lifelong gamer, Dr. Thompson’s interests in game audio have become a major component of his research and pedagogy.  In 2013, Thompson became one of the first collegiate pedagogues to use video game music as a teaching tool when he created his popular Video Game Music class.  Thompson has presented multiple times at the North American Conference on Video Game Music (2018: “There’s no question you’ll be popular after performing these in front of your friends!” the pedagogy and performance of piano transcriptions of video game music).  In 2018, Thompson was lead organizer and host for the 5th annual NACVGM, held at U-M, and he continues to serve on the NACVGM program committee.  At NACVGM 7 in 2020, Thompson spearheaded, organized and emceed the inaugural NACVGM concert.  In 2018, Dr. Thompson chaired and presented for the first ever academic ludomusicology/ sound studies track at GameSoundCon, historically an industry based conference, and he serves on the advisory board for GSC.  During the 2018-2019 school year, Thompson won a grant allowing him to create the first ever collegiate studio of pianists studying video game piano transcriptions.  As part of this experimental year, Thompson invited Video Game Pianist, Dr. Martin Leung, to have a residency at U-M and Thompson joined Leung for Leung’s first public performance of video game piano duets.  In 2020, Thompson released the world premiere recording of “For the Piano,” a solo piano piece by Halo and Destiny composer, Marty O’Donnell.  Dr. Thompson has a forthcoming chapter in the Game Syllabi Handbook with Karen Cook, Julianne Grasso, Dana Plank, and Ryan Thompson and has written proactively commissioned book reviews published in the American Journal of Play. Thompson also maintains a blog which has attracted both scholarly and industry attention at

As a pianist, Dr. Thompson has performed with operatic celebrities including Thomas Hampson, Golden Mask winner Vince Yi, and even musical theater gurus like Tony Award winner, Gavin Creel.  A sought after vocal coach, he’s prepared singers from beginners to seasoned artists for recitals, recordings, competitions, young artist programs, auditions, and performances, both local and in major venues around the world.  Equally comfortable collaborating with instrumentalists, Thompson has performed on the Ann Arbor Symphony Chamber Music Series, the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings Series, and the Great Lakes Chamber Music Vignette Series.  He regularly plays with SMTD faculty including Nancy Ambrose KingAmy Porter, Professor Emeritus Bill Campbell, Professor Emeritus Fritz Kaenzig, and Jeffrey Lyman.  He has performed with the Flint Symphony and the Michigan Philharmonic.  Thompson is Artistic Director for the Carolyn Mawby Chorale, based in Flint Michigan, which was recently featured in the Netflix original series, Flint Town.  Thompson can be heard in numerous live performances online from Thompson’s YouTube channel and the Carolyn Mawby Chorale’s YouTube channel.  He can also be heard in a recently released recording with U-M alumnus and oboist, Dr. Alex Hayashi, Japonica, and with David Ammer, trumpet, in La trompette a renouvelé.

Dr. Thompson has been honored multiple times recently by U-M for his interdisciplinary research and teaching.  In 2019, U-M created the “Thompson Prize,” an annual award for a non-SMTD student to create a multidisciplinary project under his guidance.  The same year, Thompson was bestowed Associate Faculty status by the U-M Center for Japanese Studies for his research in Japanese classical and video game music.  In 2020, Thompson became an ArtsEngine Faculty Liaison and was awarded a U-M Multidisciplinary FEAST research team to embark on a multi-year study of Korean Art Song 가곡 (Gagok).  The team will collect scores, translate, record, and phoneticize the texts, with the goal of making these songs more accessible for English speakers.

Thompson received masters and doctoral degrees from The University of Michigan in collaborative piano, studying with his long time mentor, Martin Katz.  His undergraduate degree, with highest honors and highest distinction, is from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he completed an honors thesis: The Russian school of piano in America: the pedagogy of Rosina Lhevinne.  Thompson’s summer training included prestigious young artist programs Song Fest, the Merola Opera Program, and Wolf Trap Opera.  Summers are now typically spent teaching music to students of all levels; most recently, he has been teaching at SMTD’s MPulse Solo Vocal Institute.

Students: 12


Meeting Details: Wednesdays or Fridays, 4:30-6:00pm

Application: Consider including a link to your portfolio or other websites in the personal statement portion of your application to share work you would like considered as part of your submission.

Summer Opportunity: Summer research fellowships may be available for qualifying students.

Citizenship Requirements: This project is open to all students on campus.

IP/NDA: Students who successfully match to this project team will be required to sign an Intellectual Property (IP) Agreement prior to participation.

Course Substitutions: CoE Honors