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

Robert van Heumen        Robert van Heumen
© Jelmer Gremmen

Robert van Heumen: composer and improvising musician on laptop-instrument

Robert van Heumen is a composer and improvising musician using an extended laptop-instrument to perform highly immersive and hyper-dynamic electro-acoustic music. As a musician, live sampling is his main tool. With a joystick and other tactile controllers, live sampled source sounds are gesturally manipulated and reworked within open ended narratives. Van Heumen is continously researching new strategies for live sampling and looking for the perfect balance between free improvisation and structured music. The laptop is used in an instrumental, tactile way, connecting action to sound like any acoustic instrument. Van Heumen is performing regularly with his band Shackle (with electro-flutist Anne La Berge) and various other constellations. He's using realtime audio-synthesis software SuperCollider and STEIM's live sampling software LiSa.

Recent electro-acoustic works include the compositions SPILL, Untitled For Anne, Moving On Second and Detuning Guitar. SPILL is a composition for harp and live electronics as a musical response to fossil fuel disasters that often go unnoticed by the general public. The processed harp is sometimes cold as ice, sometimes hot as giant flames that can be seen from 20 miles away; she cries, screams, explodes, gulps and rumbles. Untitled For Anne is a piece for flute and live electronics, commissioned by Anne La Berge. It is a game of power between the flute and the computer; control is in the hands of the player, but the computer can take over if not restrained properly. Moving On Second is an installation as well as an algorithmic composition for automated instrument and SuperCollider. It is performed with Orgelpark’s Sauer organ, Owen Byrne’s metal tubes and the Disklavier. Detuning Guitar is a composition for guitar and live sampling. A research in guitar sound performed by Van Heumen together with Jasper Stadhouders and Nicole Hein. Other works include the GeluidjesFabriek (SoundlingsFactory), an sound factory using the original sounds of a certain place to produce new sound objects, and Steenklank (Sound of Brick), a soundwalk on architecture in collaboration with Anne Rooschüz, commissioned by Soundtrackcity. Van Heumen was awarded a composition stipend from the Performing Arts Fund NL.

Van Heumen documents his performances as well as his composed work on labels like Creative Sources Recordings, Evil Rabbit Records and Fridgesound. He is regularly teaching workshops on live electronics and structured improvisation, both in the Netherlands and internationally. He teaches the SuperCollider software at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Van Heumen worked for 10 years at the Studio for Electo-Instrumental Music (STEIM) in Amsterdam as project manager, curator of the Local Stop concert series and member of the artistic committee. In the theater he worked with director Dirk Groeneveld, writer Simone de Jong and choreographer Anouk van Dijk. In a previous life he was a trumpet player, mathematician and software programmer. Van Heumen is inspired by mathematicians L.E.J. Brouwer and Kurt Gödel, writers Albert Camus and Philip K. Dick, composers GM König and John Carpenter and bands Pye Corner Audio and Boards of Canada.

Contact | Resume | Press photo's | Compositions | Sound Design | Collaborations | Releases | Videos


Reviews

"The music of Shackle is truely strong and varied. There are fast, raw passages and also very subdued parts where something new can be heard every time you listen. The power of the duo is that they evoke curiosity without becoming overly abstract."
Jan Nieuwenhuis (Gonzo (circus)) on the Shackle Stick

"Digital brutalism in free form, vehement expressions, heightened efforts, wailings and atonal lamentations are all performed with uninterrupted breathing techniques - the electronic manipulation is relentless, full of powerful distortions, melancholic melodies and experimental combinations. Authentic, intricate compositions [...]."
Aurelio Cianciotta (Neural.it) on ABATTOIR

"[...] Stranger in any case represents an intriguing chapter in the output of a hardly pigeon-hole-able emerging sound artist. There's more than meets the ears, though it takes persistence to find the combination needed to enter this obscure area, halfway through the remnants of excruciating memories and the blurred idea of an uncertain future."
Massimo Ricci (The Squid's Ear) on Stranger

"The trio deliver lively and unpredictable digital high-energy bursts by working in a very dynamic and inter-active environment, where one’s merest gesture or thought is transformed instantly into powerful sweeps of crackly texturised beltage. Fine work which transcends many of the clichés and pitfalls of laptop music."
Massimo Ricci (Paris Atlantic) on SKIF++'s CD .next

"... the whole set is sensuous fun as well as intellectually stretching."
Brian Morton (The Wire) on Whistle Pig Saloon

"... dynamic, ever changing, crackling, loud and soft, buzzing and hissing. Vibrant music this is, great music, moving away from the delicate structures of microsound into the land of noise based textures."
Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly) on Fury

"This is musique concrete that has torn away from its formal, academic origins. Deconstruction and reassembly in nasty extremis."
David Stubbs (The Wire) on SKIF++'s CD SK++ [01,02,03,04,00]

"Office-R(6) literally sculpt rather than play the music using acoustic instruments and computers yeilding a music that is subtly seismic and eminently contemporary."
Musicreaction on OfficeR's CD Recording the Grain



Compositions

  • GeluidjesFabriek ZAAG55, a location-specific installation in the former Bolnes Motor Factory Zaag 55, Krimpen aan de Lek, The Netherlands (premiere September 14, 2014)
  • MOROS, a Sci-Fi film in sound for bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet and live electronics, performed by Laura Carmichael and Oğuz Büyükberber, composed with financial support from the Performing Arts Fund NL (premiere December 14, 2014 at Splendor Amsterdam in the SlowHZ program)
  • A Short Piece of Decay, a composition for block flute, pan flute, viola, accordion, percussion and live electronics, commissioned by the Black Pencil ensemble (premiere July 6, 2014, Summerwinds festival in Lingen DE)
  • Sonata for 10 pedals, a composition for harp, Disklavier and live electronics (composition Lucas Wiegerink, sound design Robert van Heumen, premiere Aug 14, 2014, Darmstadt DE)
  • Steenklank, a soundwalk commissioned by Soundtrackcity (premiere Nov 15, 2013, De Nieuwe Pijp Amsterdam)
  • Tubes in Chains, a composition for various organs, flute with electronics and laptop-instrument (premiere Nov 3, 2013, Orgelpark Amsterdam)
  • First Law of Kipple, a composition for 4 channel sound and MIDI-controlled organ, commissioned by Orgelpark (premiere Nov 3, 2013, Orgelpark Amsterdam)
  • MDFreeze, an algorithmic composition for 8 channels, commissioned by Call & Response (premiere Aug 17, 2013, Tonspur Vienna)
  • Night Call, a structured improvisation composition commissioned by the band IstanPOOL (premiere Oct 3, 2013, Rasa Utrecht)
  • Twelve-Twelve-Twelve by Money For Your Whale, published in three installments as an object combined with download (2013)
  • The Sound of the Machine, a composition for Disklavier and computer, commissioned by the Conlon Foundation (premiere Sept 8, 2011, Gaudeamus Muziekweek)
  • Like Harry, a theatrical soundwalk in collaboration with Simone de Jong (premiere Sept 11, 2011, Gaudeamus Muziekweek)
  • Soundtracks for stop-motion videos fibonacci scroll, Fashion Week and Fibonacci Flower by Susan Happersett (2010/2011)
  • No Man's Land, a radioplay commissioned by the CEM studio at WORM Rotterdam (premiere Dec 6, 2008, Dutch radio)
  • Stranger, an electronic composition (premiere multichannel version June 13, 2008, Culturelab Newcastle UK)
  • Silent, a set of short pieces based upon a specific synthesis process used by James Tenney (2007)
  • Fury (after anger), a 4-channel composition commisioned by the Sonic Circuits festival in Washington DC (premiere Oct 7, 2006)
  • Solitude, an audiovisual production with Arnoud Noordegraaf (video) (premiere at the November Music Festival (Den Bosch NL, Gent BE 2005)
  • Compositions for choreographies am i out? (2000), Alien (2001), Diva (2002), Amour Fou (2003), Drink me (2004), STAU (2004), Derivatives (2005) by Anouk van Dijk
For CD's and releases in other formats, go to the Releases section.


Sound Design


Collaborations

  • SKIF++ with Bas van Koolwijk on interactive video and Jeff Carey on laptop: "...the trio deliver lively and unpredictable digital high-energy bursts by working in a very dynamic and inter-active environment, where one’s merest gesture or thought is transformed instantly into powerful sweeps of crackly texturised beltage."
  • Whistle Pig Saloon with guitarist John Ferguson: "... this music exudes the grace and violence of a NASA enterprise: at times lingering in static poses on the dark side of the moon, other moments crashing face-first into the sun."
  • OfficeR electro-acoustic sextet: "Contrapuntal layering of all these effects provides Office-R (6) with distinctiveness - an ever-shifting interface that negates minimalist austerity while clasping on to its hypnotic effects."


Videos




The audio-visual installation Point-to-Line, January 2017
Note: due to the screen-capture process the video quality is lower than in real live.




Curves with Shackle and Männer mit Motoren, October 30 2016




Chuck by
Shackle




SPILL for harp and live electronics, performed by Miriam Overlach at Splendor on March 27, 2016




Untitled For Anne for flute and live electronics, performed by Anne La Berge at Orgelpark on November 28, 2015




The sound-walk Steenklank





The Full Spectrum concert at STEIM with Felipe Ignacio Noriega, Yung-Tuan Ku, Robert van Heumen, March 31 2016




Money for your Whale by Money For Your Whale




Sacred Noise for organ and laptop-instrument, performed by Jacob Lekkerkerker and Robert van Heumen at Orgelpark on November 28, 2015




ABATTOIR at STEIM CONCERT: Electronic Music Lab, May 8 2010, Japan Society, NYC USA



Sound of the Machine documentation version




Shackle at the OIRADIO sessions Sao Paulo Brazil, October 1 2012




Whistle Pig Saloon at ICMC 2011 Huddersfield UK




Solitude promotional video


More videos at Vimeo.

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