Robert van Heumen Composer Improvisor Laptop-Instrumentalist Sound-Designer
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October 25, 2008 - October 2008 Archives

Culturelab Newcastle 4tet

The concert I did with Bennett Hogg, John Ferguson and Paul Bell, during my visit to Culturelab in June is on Vimeo now:

Robert van Heumen, Bennett Hogg, Paul Bell, John Ferguson from john on Vimeo.


October 24, 2008 - October 2008 Archives

High Zero drawing

At the High Zero festival there was an artist, Mila Lampieri, making drawings of the musicians on stage. He was so kind giving me one of myself.


No Man's Land

I'm working on a radioplay commissioned by WORM (Rotterdam). I've been working in their studio (the former CEM studio) to generate samples using analog equipment, and I'm now in the process putting it together. Some nice material there! Below is the promotional blurp, as well as an image.

No Man's Land

This radiophonic work deals with the Dust Bowl period in the USA, specifically with the people that lived in the Oklahoma Panhandle, the extreme western region of the state Oklahoma. We will hear the story of Hazel Lucas, who migrated to Boise City, Cimmaron County with her parents and who lived through the worst hard times during this ecological and economical disaster. The story is taked from the book 'The worst hard time' by Timothy Egan. Most of the sounds are produced in the CEM studio at WORM Rotterdam with the ARP2500 and the Korg MS-20 synthesizers and a Synton stereo EQ. The voice is by Marilyn Ivy and the production is done by Robert van Heumen.


October 9, 2008 - October 2008 Archives

Currently in my CD player

  • Nicole Atkins / Neptune City - the female Roy Orbison in a David Lynch atmosphere - great voice, huge orchestrations, kitsch but just right on that edge
  • Ane Brun / Changing of the seasons & A temporary dive - Swedish singer songwriter, a bit of Kate Bush, a bit of Joni Mitchell but mostly her own - especially her interpretation of Purcell's Laid in Earth is killing me
  • Senor Coconut / Around the world - latin versions of famous pop songs, very funny, very well done
  • Metallica / Death Magnetic - back to basics, what can I say
  • Angelo Badalamenti / Mulholland Drive soundtrack - Nicole Atkins mentions Badalamenti as inspiration - this is a great record, never really listened to it extensively

October 3, 2008 - October 2008 Archives


I added a link to the right to a list of recently purchased music. I feel I have to make a statement that there are still people buying cds (or vinyl for that matter).

The Trumpet

So after participating in the High Zero festival in Baltimore and hearing Liz Albee perform the trumpet, I'm very inspired taking on that instrument again, incorporating it into my set. Possibly using a Wii controller's accelerometers and the numchuck replacing my joystick. This will take some time though - first getting my chops back, then finding the time to experiment with the controllers, and adepting my setup to that. But I'm very exited to start that!

Thinking about that I dug up some old music I worked on when living in Jersey City, using a hardware sampler, the trumpet, and a 4-track minidisc recorder. The two tracks that I can still listen to I've put online, including some great artwork, from a collection of comics I picked up at an auction upstate New York.

High Zero

The High Zero festival was a lot of fun. The concept is: you take 10 local improvisors, and invite another 10 from abroad (a lot of Americans though), put them together in combinations never heard before (yes, the old Kraakgeluiden concept), and wait and see and hear. Because of the big local base, the atmosphere is very friendly, 'instant family'. Everyone is put up at some local performer's house, and there are 5 evenings of 4 sessions each, and additional there are these Hijinx's, events during the day where sound is produced in public space. Somethimes very funny.

As for the evening concerts, I must say that not all sessions were musically great. Quite a lot were amusing, because of the awkwardness of the musicians, or because of the theatricality of it. Some performances that stood out:

Dan Blacksberg: trombone
Carson Garhart: inventions, electronics
Michael Muniak: electronics
This was my first introduction to Mike, who performed feedback with various pedals in a very instrumental way, capable of making split second decisions.

Robert van Heumen: electronics
Bill Nace: guitar
Ric Royer: voice, tapes
I don't think this one stood out musically, but the combination made for some weird action. Ric did not make any sound, but held up signs for the audience to make sound. I would sample that, and throw that back at them. Funny, but not very musical. Then there were some moments of heavy distorted interaction between me and Bill, that I enjoyed a lot.

Arrington de Dionyso: voice, bass clarinet
This was an amazing solo. The best musician of the festival. Working with resonance, throatsinging, great bassclarinet playing. Check this guy out. Also a sweet human being.

Tetuzi Akiyama: acoustic guitar
Susan Alcorn: pedal steel guitar
Tony Buck: drums
Paul Neidhardt: percussion, friction
A very quite, beautiful open quartet. Tony Buck was the star, but also Paul is a great and sensitive musician.

Arrington de Dionyso: voice, bass clarinet
Carson Garhart: inventions, electronics
Janel Leppin: cello, electronics, autoharp
Arrington again. With Carson, who makes very melancholic, melodic music with various guitar-like instruments, and Janel Leppin, who was struggeling in other sets with all her electronics, but here played some beautiful cello.

Aside from the music, we were fed every night, there was a dance party on Saturday night (very funny to see all these 'non pulsed' musicians dance their ass off) and a barbeque with crap (uh, crab) on Sunday afternoon. Great festival, great people. Recommended!

I also performed with ABATTOIR (my duo with Audrey Chen) at the H&H building, and held a lecture at Peabody conservatory. O, and then there was a recording session on Friday afternoon with Liz Albee, Arrington de Dionyso, Mike Muniak and myself. That was great, finally some duo work, and I was very glad for this opportunity to play with these great players.


Finally some time to catch up on things. After a great coast to coast trip in the US I was sucked into work very soon. Of course things at STEIM, how to continue with the funding (partly) secured. More about that later (maybe). But first a report on the International Computer Music Conference 2008, in Belfast from Aug 24-29.

ICMC08 report

The International Computer Music Conference took place in Belfast this year, at Queens University, also using SARC's diffusion system.
The conference was integrated with the Sonorities festival, which resulted in an enormous amount of concerts, concurrently with paper presentations, demo's and panels. This made it sometimes difficult to choose, and to my opinion some parts of the conference/festival suffered from that.

Every day there were paper presentations in the morning, in two spaces at the same time, and in the afternoon demo's were given, and posters presented. Due to the nature of the conference these papers were generally quite theoretical and specific. An interesting one that comes to mind was a presentation by Trond Lossius from BEK (Norway) about Jamoma ( According to the website: Jamoma provides a clear structure and common features for building max patches. Reducing the amount of time needed to create new performance systems, and enhancing the interchange of patches amongst max users. Basically a way to control groups of parameters simultaniously.

The lunchbreak was dedicated to two sessions of concerts with electronic compositions taking place in SARC - one at 12:15 and one at 13:45. Because of the relatively small number of seats in SARC participants could only attend one of the two concerts per day. These concerts were generally quite interesting - although most pieces didn't really use the elaborate diffusion system in an effective way. Some memorable pieces:
* Butch Rovan / Correspondences: audio-visual work after Beaudelaire's Correspondances - very instrumental and lots of movement
* Carmen Caruso / Mayday: cinema-for-the-ear - beautiful sound collage
* Rikhardur H. Fridriksson / Postcards from North and South: good use of the diffusion system, beautiful sounds
* Benjamin Broening / Lamentation Alphabet: Aleph

Almost every day at night there were two concerts: an early one with mainly compositions for ensemble of soloists with electronics, and a late night concert with a bit more focus on longer sessions with more improvisation. These concerts were less interesting in general than the lunch concerts - most pieces were quite conceptual and sometimes more about technology than music. Some interesting ones:
* Scott McLaughlin / Whitewater for sax & computer: good blend of acoustic and electronic sound - good balance, neither one was dominant or leading
* Juhani Raisanen / Cringle: one of the few real electronic instruments, performed with mastery

Then there were the continous presentations in the Grand Hall: a total of three hours of tape works, repeated 3 times. Every day a block of new works. This part of the program suffered a lot from a lack of attention, as it wasn't announced very clearly, and obviously a lot of things were happening at the same time. Some memorable works:
* Martin Bedard / Check-point: interesting sounds, although the piece was too long
* Gilles Gobeil / Ombres, espaces, silences: interesting combinations of sounds, movement, drama - too long though
* Robert van Heumen / Fury: of course I can't not mention my own participation - it was good hearing it a couple of times, and I can already hear some improvements...

All in all a good conference. Lots of opportunities to meet people, and lots of music. Next year in Canada, McGill University.

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