Noa Hegesh

Noa Hegesh

Postdoctoral Fellow (Sep 2020-Sep 2021)


Noa Hegesh is a historian of sound, interested in musical thought and in sound as a technology in Early and Early Medieval China. Her research explores how people thought about sound shaped the tuning theories they used and led to developments in music theory and acoustics. Specifically, her research focuses on the use of sound and tuning calculations outside of musical performances per-se, in areas such as astronomy, cosmology, metrology, politics, ritual, and divination.

Noa is a postdoctoral fellow of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Department III (Artifacts, Action, Knowledge) and a member of the Research Group “Epistemes of Modern Acoustics." Her project at the MPIWG focuses on the Period of Division in China (focusing on the fourth to sixth centuries), when foreign conquest, decentralization of power, and the rise of Buddhism and Daoism introduced deep social, political, and cultural changes that shaped, reshaped, and challenged the discourse about sound and its uses.

Noa earned a doctorate in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation is entitled “In Tune with the Cosmos: Tuning Theory, Cosmology, and Concepts of Sound in Early China.”  Noa holds a BA in musicology and East Asian studies, and an MA in East Asian studies, from Tel Aviv University. Her awards include the University of Pennsylvania President Gutmann Leadership Award (2016) and the Center for Teaching and Learning’s Graduate Fellowships for Teaching Excellence (2016–2017).


Changes and Continuities in Concepts of Sound in Early Medieval China, (4–6 Century CE.)


The Mask—Arrayed


Transience: Politics and Practices of Time in the Chinese Period of Division (4th-7th centuries)


No projects were found for this scholar.

Selected Publications

Hegesh, N. (2020). The Sound of Weights and Measures. Nature Physics, 16(11), 1166. doi:10.1038/s41567-020-01077-z.

Read More



A Fantasy of Control: Sound as a Technology in Wang Mang’s Declaration of Power


The Socio-Material History of Masked Societies in East Asia: A Virtual Workshop


Mind the Gap: Acoustical Answers to Cosmological Concerns in First Century B.C.E


Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

The Art of Cosmological Tuning in Early China

Univeristy of Pennsylvania

Body and Cosmos in China: An Interdisciplinary Symposium in Honor of Nathan Sivin

Tuned to the Cosmos: Music, Emotion, and Cosmology in Early China

Berea College

Guest Lecture at the Asian Studies Colloquium Series (co-sponsored by the dept. of music)

Panel organizer: “Perceptions of Music and Sound in Early and Early Medieval China”

Association for Asian Studies (AAS) Annual Conference

News & Press

The Mask—Arrayed project team seeks short essay contributions


Project "The Mask—Arrayed" explores material, technological, and cultural aspects of the face mask