Robert van Heumen Composer Improvisor Laptop-Instrumentalist Sound-Designer
Software Developer
play (music player)

« Previous post | Back to Recent posts | Next post »


So, a new year, new plans. For a while I had an idea for the structure of a piece, but the content, the urge to make it happen didn't show itself. Also last fall has been quite hectic at STEIM and with touring that I couldn't find time to sit down and let my mind flow. But then having two weeks off around Christmas finally something came up. Two things actually: the content and the solution to the no-time-issue.

Content-wise I had bought the new Bladerunner 5DVD set with all 5 versions and documentaries, storyboards and what not. For some reason Bladerunner always has been special to me - maybe because it provided the first voice samples I used in my music, maybe because the atmosphere just caught me. Meanwhile the last couple of years I've been reading the original, 'Do androids dream of electric sheep' by Philip K. Dick, but still looking our for the long awaited release of 'Bladerunner - the Final Cut'. At the same time on the Total Dick-head blog (about, you've guessed it, Philip K. Dick) I read a post about the similarities between Deckard (the main character in Bladerunner/DADOES) and Meursault, the protagonist in Albert Camus' L'Etranger. Totally fascinated, I read my first Camus novel, and was completely blown away. So that's going to be my new work 'Vreemdeling' (Dutch for 'L'Etranger').


As for the no-time thing: I realized that what some composers come to STEIM for, I could use myself: just a block of time, undisturbed by the daily things of life, in
.,.,..,.,.,.,.,wait, hold, what's that ..,.,.,.,,..,,.,.
as I'm writing this, I'm listening to the new Gescom CD (the guys rom Autechre) in which they're using Bladerunner voicesamples!
ok, so I send off some emails to various institutions in Europe, explaining that I was looking for a studio, a place to stay and a non-demanding environment, and within a week I was able to arrange a week at EMS (the electronic music studio in Stockholm, Sweden) and two weeks at Culture Lab, Newcastle UK! So I'm totally excited about this opportunity to finally spend a longer stretch of time (more than, let's say, 1 day) to the thing I like doing most: working with sound.

The way to structure the piece, what I had in mind for a while, is using the so-called Family Tree concept, where you start out with some initial soundfiles (axioms) and a number of audio processes, and build a family tree by repeatedly applying those processes on each new generation of sounds. The axioms are going to be limited to samples from Bladerunner, which I'm going to have to smash beyond repair obviously, and the processes are going to be some of my live LiSa processing, and probably some basic reverb, extreme noise reduction etc.

One more aspect of this composition is that I'd like to monitor and study the composition process while I'm doing it, since I've become more and more interested in the way a piece of music is conceived: How do we choose sounds and processes out of many? Can that process be arbitrary, even random, or should every sound and every process be weighted again and again until we know it’s right? What does that mean, ‘it is right’? .. That kind of questions. Similar to the ones in L'Etranger and Bladerunner. And to life, I guess.....
These results are probably showing up on this blog regularly. So keep reading! (yeah right, as if someone is really reading my 2 cents - but does that actually matter? If someone is reading this or not? Isn't is merely a way to structure my thoughts?).

OK. Out for now. Later.