Experimental data on acoustic pressure measurements obtained over a wide range of conditions is reported for two simple geometries that are commonly studied for their combustion dynamics behaviour. These geometries are the confined bluff-body and the confined backward-facing steps. The data indicate regimes of flow-acoustic lock-on that signifies the onset of combustion instability, marked by the excitation of high-amplitude discrete tones of sound in the combustor. The high-speed chemiluminescence imaging of the combustion zone indicates heat-release-rate fluctuations occurring at the same frequencies as observed in the acoustic spectra. Attention is then devoted to the data obtained under cold-flow conditions to illustrate distinctly different behaviour than when combustion instability occurs, contrary to the commonly held view that the combustion process does not alter the underlying fluid mechanical processes under low-Mach number conditions. © Printed in India.