Robert van Heumen Composer Improvisor Laptop-Instrumentalist Sound-Designer
(music player)
Contact | Next event on June 4, 2016: Untitled For Anne, Dakota and Sanctuary at Kunststation St. Peter in Cologne | Watch the performance of SPILL at Splendor on March 27 2016

April 12, 2016

The Full Spectrum

On March 31 2016 I organised a concert at STEIM together with René Huysmans. One of the sets was performed by Felipe Ignacio Noriega, Yung-Tuan Ku and myself. Below an excerpt of that concert.

April 9, 2016

Moving On Second

My installation Moving On Second (Tubes Version) was shown at The Full Spectrum concert at STEIM on March 31 2016. A short video below.

SPILL in Splendor

Miriam Overlach performed a fabulous version of SPILL in the QuiosQue series in Splendor on March 27 2016. Below the video.

March 10, 2016

Songs of Love (and Decay)

A couple of months ago I started a project in a new direction: writing songs for vocalist Evelien van den Broek. Culminating in a recording session last week at STEIM's studio 1, where we recorded three of the five songs. It was totally mindblowing to hear these very personal songs come to live in the hands of such a versatile singer. After the bulk of the vocal recordings was done we had fun recording handclaps and overdubs. Aside from finishing the two remaining songs, there is the big task of mixing the recordings. But what a great job!

February 26, 2016

Electronic Extravaganza / video compilation

This is a video compilation of the evening. My contribution starts at 1:17.

February 16, 2016

Electronic Extravaganza

The Electronic Extravaganza took over Splendor on Thursday Feb 11. Every room packed with cables, computers and DIY electronics. A great evening. I performed a last-minute duo percussion set with tap-dancer Marije Nie and a set with Felipe Ignacio Noriega: live sampling vs live coding. Many thanks to the organizers from Monotak and STEIM!

February 13, 2016

David Bowie

My three favorite David Bowie songs. When his albums happened I was on another planet, until 1.Outside came along. Totally loved that one. Then nothing until about 2 years ago, when I decided to take on a Bowie project, (re)listening key albums (which is about any of them) and reading about it. Getting inspired by his way of working, his studio techniques. For example the Keypex use on Diamond Dogs, which is now part of my live setup. I feel lucky having bought and loved Blackstar before he died, so I could listen to it without the whole tragedy and weight of his death.

February 1, 2016

Fury album online

The first half of the Fury can now be listened online. Let me know if you want a hardcopy and I'll save one for you.

Stranger the full album online

I uploaded the full Stranger for anyone to enjoy. If you are one of those people (like me) who still likes a hardcopy, let me know and I'll save one for you.

Video documentation of To Whom this Power

This is a compilation video of the theatrical concert To Whom this Power that took place in Orgelpark Amsterdam on November 28 2015. Integral video documentation of all 5 compositions can be watched here.

January 9, 2016

Looking back and forward

For me 2015 was the year of forging quite a few new works. Detuning Guitar for Jasper Stadhouders and myself, Untitled For Anne for, well, Anne La Berge, and SPILL for Miriam Overlach. I also developed three pieces for organ in various constellations: Moving On Second, Sunday Rhino and Sacred Noise, involving Audrey Chen, Jacob Lekkerkerker and Michael Bonaventure. Some of these pieces premiered in Orgelpark during the theatrical concert To Whom this Power which I created together with the performers, director Nienke Rooijakkers and sound-poet Sieger Baljon. All these compositions were developed with extensive help from the performers and collaborators, and would not have seen the light without them. Thank you!

Where 2015 was full of composing, it lacked a bit in just playing, just being in the moment. I'll make that up by performing 5 times in the first two months of the new year. Check the dates in the events section. I am looking very much forward to that! I hope to see some of you there, please come and enjoy the music.

January 1, 2016

Happy new year!

I have been enjoying some time off with family the last days, but still found some time to nerd around and make the audio player on this website accessible for smaller devices. Note the arrow on the right of the player, which opens a separate window with this player so you can keep the playback running while browsing. Exit Flash, welcome HTML5! Feedback welcome.

December 20, 2015

Shackle at SARC in Belfast

Shackle spent a couple of days in early December in Belfast at The Sonic Arts Research Center in Belfast giving a Converging Objects workshop and performing with a group of smart, well-versed and diverse group of students. The famous Sonic Lab there is equipped with a plethora of speakers that are situated in every nook and cranny in the hall. We used only some of them but still enjoyed the sounds and music we made performing with the Shackle Affair system.

Many thanks to Stef Kalonaris who hosted us and to the faculty and students who made the short visit so rewarding for all of us.



December 9, 2015

To Whom this Power

After a long process of developing the concept, applying for grants, getting all the pieces together, finally the moment was there for the premier of the theatrical concert To Whom this Power. On November 28 at 8 the audience came strolling into the marvellous Orgelpark with its 7 church organs. Friends, collegues, organ fanatics, new music lovers. While the 5 performers, Anne La Berge, Sieger Baljon, Miriam Overlach, Jacob Lekkerkerker and myself, were hanging out on stage.

Jacob started the evening with his fantastic solo organ+electronics piece Black Noise White, followed by SPILL & Untitled For Anne by my hand, Anne's sweet and noisy Dakota and finally Orgelpark's commission piece Sacred Noise. “An attempt to wrest Sacred Noise from industry as a prelude to the discovery of a more trustworthy proprietor to whom this power may be bequeathed.” All of this alternated with Sieger Baljon's great poems about 'how we slowly but surely are ruining the earth's treasures'. The whole thing directed masterfully by Nienke Rooijakkers.

Then, applause. Very positive responses and, of course, critisism. Next weeks we'll undoubtedly discuss all of this, and see where to go from here.

I have great memories of sitting there in the sound field, surrounded by all this great music and musicians. Thanks to Miriam, Jacob, Anne, Nienke and Sieger for helping me to make this all possible. And of course Orgelpark for believing in this project.

October 28, 2015

Spill try-out

Miriam Overlach performed Spill twice at the Stedelijk Museum in 's-Hertogenbosch (NL). It was a big succes! Everything worked as planned, and the cow-skins added to the atmosphere. A compilation video below.

September 23, 2015


The last couple of months I've been working with harpist Miriam Overlach on a new composition for harp, oil pipe and electronics. We've researched various extended techniques, electronic effects on the harp and ways of combining these. We're in the last stage right now, preparing for a try-out in the Stedelijk Museum in Den Bosch NL on October 18. The premiere will probably be at the Who's Next festival in Almere NL on November 7, and another performance in Orgelpark on November 28 as part of the concert program 'To Whom this Power'. A teaser video below.

September 9, 2015

Shackle and Men with Motors

Shackle has had two sweaty and electrifying performances with the electro acoustic duo Maenner mit Motoren in the last few months. Both were at the Kunsthaus Rhenania in Köln, a buzzing building that houses visual and sonic artist workspaces.

The first was on May 12 at the end of a 2 day studio collaboration and the second was on 29 August as part of the Strom IV festival.

Sven Hahne has recently moved to Chili but his wizardly visual programming continues to partner with us!

Both performances were on incredibly hot days in Köln. The audiences sipped beer as we cavorted through musical playgrounds, sometimes spacious and sometimes raucous.

June 23, 2015

Moving On Second

Moving On Second is an algorithmic composition for Sauer Organ and SuperCollider. The composition follows a 4-chord progression derived from the aria 'In Deine Hände' from the J.S. Bach cantata 'Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit', by accident pitched one semi tone up from the original. It was premiered on June 3 2015 during Orgelpark's symposium 'Bending Baroque'. More information here.

June 16, 2015

Shackle Rocks at MLK Amsterdam

On June 12 Shackle performed a set at the fabulous Instant Music Day in the Maarten Luther Kerk in Amsterdam. These are two raw excerpts from that concert.

May 15, 2015

Detuning Guitar and Money For Your Whale

Added excerpts from the Zaal 100 concert on May 8 2015. Detuning Guitar and Money For Your Whale + Buhrs + Rood.

May 14, 2015

Shackle Affair with Männer mit Motoren

Sitting in a coffee-n-bread place on Heumarkt Cologne after a great Shackle concert last night with Männer mit Motoren: Sven Hahne and Matthias Muche. So much fun! Sharing similar esthetics in music ánd working methods, it's always a pleasure to work with these men. Recordings were made, so these will become available when we get to it.


Finally found some time to update the Sounds section. This was long time overdue. Added sounds: SpoonDuo, Detuning Guitar, Shackle, GeluidjesFabriek. More to come, after I've mixed more recordings. A modern day dilemma: storage space is cheap, so one tends to record everything - but time to listen and review these recordings is NOT cheap at all.

April 23, 2015


The track Funeral Freeze (based upon a process I developed for MDFreeze) appears on the Nachtstück label compilation Nachtmuziek.

Steenklank 2015

Spring is in the air. Soundtrackcity is continuing their organised Steenklank walks. Experience architecture in sound!

April 21, 2015

Studium Generale at the Art Academy Utrecht

Marcel Wierckx and I 'battled' for sound space during this lecture in the Studium Generale series at the HKU, the art academy of Utrecht, NL. With a room full of students never been exposed to such stuff this gave rise to interesting questions and discussions. Watch the full thing or and excerpt.

March 28, 2015

Shackle Affair with Bassoons and more

Two American duos will be stopped by Amsterdam and were Shackle guests for a workshop at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and for an evening of composed and improvised music at Splendor Amsterdam.

It was a day of of sonic sophistication that ranged from sheer rawness to sublime beauty.

And lots of bassoon with and without electronics!

The duos were:
Of an implacable subtraction
with bassoonist/composer Dana Jessen and composer/performer Paula Mathussen
Architeuthis Walks on Land
with bassoonist/composer Katherine Young and violist/improviser Amy Cimini



March 21, 2015

Göteborg with Jodi Gilbert

Together with vocalist Jodi Gilbert I spend last week in Göteborg Sweden, for two concerts, a lecture and a workshop.

The first concert was in a lovely little coffee place called Viktors Kaffe. With an audience of 20 the space was packed. The other concert was a Brötz Club, a beatiful space on a hill. After a duo by Jodi and myself we played a set with our hosts Michele Collins and Jonny Wartel and special guests Lina Nyberg and John Holmström. A fabulous evening!

The lecture and workshop took place at the Academy of Music and Drama at the University of Göteborg. A small group of articulated composers under the hood of Per Anders Nilsson versus a big group of musical improvisors guided by Thomas Jäderlund. A great experience!

February 13, 2015

Shackle at ‘a special evening at the Kunstenlab’

Shackle performed a concert at the Kunstenlab in Deventer, NL. Invited by Harco Rutgers from esc.rec. Shackle played a 50-minute set presenting their Shackle Bits project.


Martijn Holtslag from VPRO's 3voor12 also liked it (in Dutch, translation following soon):

"Een verrassende en spannende reis, waarbij twee muzikanten in opperste concentratie aan het werk zijn om de gemaakte signalen te verwerken tot een klankreis die even zacht als snoeihard durft te zijn. Alsof dat niet spannend genoeg is om te zien, of te horen, worden er korte, stille fragmenten uit oude jaren 20-50 films weergegeven, die net te vaag zijn om te snappen waar het over gaat, maar visueel een prachtige aanvulling geven aan de sfeer. Hierbij zijn niet de beelden maar is het klankbeeld lijdend.

Niet voor de meezingers, niet voor de cafésfeer, niet voor een gezellig avondje bandjes kijken, maar wel een prachtige reis waarbij je even tijd nodig hebt om te verwerken wat je eigenlijk hebt meegemaakt en waarbij de klanken even experimenteel zijn als de uitvoering. Kortom: een bijzondere avond in het Kunstenlab."

The full review can be found here (in Dutch).


The beautiful photos were made by Jelmer Gremmen.

February 5, 2015

The second rehearsal for Detuning Guitar

Yesterday Jasper and I had our second rehearsal of our piece Detuning Guitar, after a great concert the previous week. We spend some time on the various sections, made some changes and did one runthrough. Below some excerpts.

Click on the titles to play

January 30, 2015

Stadhouders & Van Heumen @ Club100

After one rehearsal for the new piece Detuning Guitar for Jasper and myself, we had an opportunity to play together during a Club100 evening at Zaal100. We were closing a very interesting and eclectic music evening, curated by Akim Moiseenkov, and we were on a roll. Very promising for Detuning Guitar, that should find its premiere somewhere in April, also in Zaal100.

Detuning Guitar

Detuning Guitar is a composition for acoustic guitar and live sampling, performed by Jasper Stadhouders and Robert van Heumen using the Shackle System.

The composition encompasses 13 parts which are descriptions of musical sections that limit the players in concept or material. Within these limitations the players can freely improvise the way they see fit. The parts are presented by the Shackle System as visual cues in a random order and last for a random time between the preset boundaries. When the System announces a new part, there is a 15 second countdown in which the players can prepare for the new part or cancel it using a foot-switch. At any time, each player can request a new part from the System with the same foot-switch. After 25 minutes, the System announces the end.

Some parts prescribe a detuning of one of the guitar strings, and one part prescribes a retuning to the initial tuning. Some parts are accompanied by a brief score. The names of the parts are: PATTERN, STUMBLE, SLOGRO, FASGRO, RIPP, RATTLE, SCRATCH, SLIDE, VIBRA, BOLT, JML, FLAG, FUNERAL.

Below is an excerpt from the first rehearsal where we perform PATTERN and RATTLE.

Shackle Bits

A futuristic city scene from Fritz Lang's 1927 film, Metropolis

With their latest project Shackle Bits, Shackle is including silent film excerpts in their performances as yet another ingredient for improvisation. The excerpts are controlled from the Shackle System and switch most of the time in sync with the musical sections but every now and then have a life of their own. As improvisors we are then faced with the question what will take precedence: sound or image.

Below are some examples of live situations.

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irvine2 irvine3 irvine1

Here is a top-10 list of silent movies. See if you agree.

MOROS / final wrap

MOROS for contrabass clarinet and bass clarinet is wrapped. Some excerpts can be heard on the MOROS page. I hope there will be more possibilities to have the piece performed in the future.

January 21, 2015

Wrapping up 2014

I've been a bad boy in not posting regular updates, especially regarding the composition stipend I received so generously from the Performing Arts Fund NL. Can't really make up, but this is an attempt to clean the slate so I can talk about new projects for 2015.

It was an exciting and busy half year, the fall of 2014:

The premiere of Sonata for 10 pedals in Darmstadt and then in the Gaudeamus Muziekweek (video), which was a fruitful and succesful collaboration with composer Lucas Wiegerink. Lucas came up with the concept and wrote the notes, I developed the live electronics.

Soundtrackcity organized monthly walks of the soundwalk Steenklank. Exciting to see so many people interested in this new medium.

After the premiere of A Short Piece of Decay in July, another performance at festival PARKMUSIK in Bad Münster-Ebernburg.

In September I ran the installation GeluidjesFabriek ZAAG55 near Rotterdam. A great place with great people. The kick-off of the Soundlings Factory. (See post)

The fall of 2014 also saw ABATTOIR getting back together for a collaboration with the Cologne-based Timeart ensemble. Documentation can be found here (the video doesn't seem to work in Firefox). (See post)

The First Law of Kipple was performed by Michael Bonaventure in London, with the sound tech by myself. The Catford church is a wonderful 60's church with great acoustics. The program worked very well as a whole, and we're working hard getting this performed in other spaces. (See post)

December brought to light the premiere of MOROS, my 'science-fiction film in sound for bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet and live electronics'. A hard piece to tame, the premiere was succesful.

Furthermore, concerts with Jodi Gilbert & Albert van Veenendaal, Shackle Affair, Han Burs cs. at STEIM and Shackle at VROOOM.

Now that's off my chest, I'm ready to talk about what's new. In the next post though, first fix the light on my bike first. Click.

Sonata for 10 pedals | documentation video

This is a video of the rehearsal right before the premiere of 'Sonata for 10 pedals', a collaboration with Lucas Wiegerink. The premiere took place at KuuB, Utrecht, in the Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2014.

January 1, 2015

Shackle. Wishing you a stompin' 2015

October 14, 2014

MOROS trailer

Working hard finalizing MOROS for contra bass clarinet, bass clarinet and electronics. This is a sneak preview of the sound world. Premiere on December 14 at Splendor in an exciting program with 5 other composer/performers.

September 24, 2014


A lot has happened since the last post.

'Sonata for 10 pedals', my collaboration with composer Lucas Wiegerink, had its try-out (Gaudeamus Sessions in June), world premier (Darmstadt in August) and Dutch premier (Gaudeamus Muziekweek September). It took some time for the piece to grow, but the Dutch premier was very good. Hopefully there'll be a documentation video soon.

'A Short Piece of Decay', my piece for the Black Pencil ensembe, has its premier in Lingen Germany in July. It went well, and the press agreed. More info here.

After the summer I worked again on the GeluidjesFabriek (LittleSoundsFactory), an ongoing project to generate SoundObjects from basic sounds, semi-randomly produced. This time the application was at a fabulous old motor factory called Zaag 55 in Krimpen aan de Lek NL. I was invited by a local group of artists to participate in their yearly exhibition, and I developed the GeluidjesFabriek further for this event. Documentation can be found here.

I've also been working on two funding applications: one for a werkbeurs (work grant) for 4 new pieces: 'Untitled for Anne' (for Anne La Berge), 'Parish of Tama' (for band and cementmixer), 'De Jacht' ('The Hunt', a radioplay in collaboration with Nienke Rooijakkers) and 'Songs of Love and Decay' (with Evelien van de Broek). I'm very excited about these plans, and hope to realize them in 2015.

The other funding application is a composition commissioned by Miriam Overlach, harpist. That piece will be called 'Spill', and will deal with fossil fuel disasters. Should be flammable.

Furthermore the teaching season has started. I'm again teaching SuperCollider at the Master of Live Electronics at the Conservatory of Amsterdam, and I'm also involved in a CineDans collaboration with the Graphic Design departement of the Utrecht School of the Arts, as sound expert.

Last but not least (at all!) I've been playing last week with Spoon3 and a Shackle Affair. That was good.

Exciting times!

What's to come: finishing MOROS and making a piece for Jasper Stadhouders and I. Plus a soundwalk in the infamous Bos en Lommer in Amsterdam.

May 31, 2014

A Short Piece of Decay | video

May 28, 2014

MOROS, the continuing saga

After having put the work aside for almost a year, I started working on MOROS again this spring. As opposed as what I wrote in my last post on MOROS, I got into the 3rd generation of the family tree before I called it a day. Over 200 samples, most of them between 30 sec and 1 minute long. Putting this together with the notated material was a joy, and the piece seems in its final stage now. The premiere is not before December 2014, I'll start working on it with Oguz and Laura somewhere late fall, and then we'll see how it really works out. Because MIDI-instruments only get you so far.

O, and I will also put this into my Score System, a SuperCollider program that I'm developing to be able to have cues for players to trigger electronic events that more or less then run on their own.

In a way this piece was forshadowed during the Shackle tour in April, as I've started using some of the samples from the family tree in my live set. I like this: quoting yourself, disregarding time.

Sonate for 11 pedals & the Score System

Together with Lucas Wiegerink I'm working on a composition for Disklavier, harp and live electronics. Lucas came up with the concept and will write the notes. Together we will work on the live electronics, and I will implement that in SuperCollider. An exciting project!

Lucas has sent me the first version of the score, and I've started to put this into my Score System in SuperCollider. I've created this system (which is still under development) to be able to sync acoustic music with electronic actions. A typical Score instance contains a list of cues that are indicated in the score of the musician to be triggered at a certain moment. When triggered, a cue runs on its own. Every cue is a timeline on which events can be scheduled. An event can be: play a soundfile from harddisk, record a live action by a musician, play back that sample, play back a certain MIDI file (to the Disklavier in this case), etc.

Below is a preview of how it might look (click on the image for a bigger version).

I will also use this Score System in my composition A Short Piece of Decay, for the Black Pencil ensemble.

May 26, 2014

A Short Piece of Decay

I'm currently busy finalizing a composition for the ensemble Black Pencil. It's a piece for panflute, blockflute, percussion, viola, accordion, soundtrack and live processing. To be premiered on July 6 2014 in Lingen, Germany. Here's the official blurp.

'A Short Piece of Decay' is about the process of cooking a dish from basic ingredients that is subsequently being devoured.

"How does the living organism avoid decay? The obvious answer is: by eating, drinking, breathing and (in the case of plants) assimilating. The technical term is metabolism. What is that precious something contained in our food which keeps us from death? That is easily answered. Every process, event, happening (call it what you will; in a word, everything that is going on in Nature) means an increase of the entropy of the part of the world where it is going on. Thus a living organism continually increases its entropy (or, as you may say, produces positive entropy) and thus tends to approach the dangerous state of maximum entropy, which is of death. It can only keep aloof from it (i.e. alive), by continually drawing from its environment negative entropy -which is something very positive as we shall immediately see. What an organism feeds upon is negative entropy. Or, to put it less paradoxically, the essential thing in metabolism is that the organism succeeds in freeing itself from all the entropy it cannot help producing while alive." From 'What is life?' (1944) by Erwin Schrödinger

'A Short Piece of Decay' is a continuation of a train of thought that has also produced the compositions 'The First Law of Kipple' (2012) and 'Stranger' (2008). Composition by decomposition.
Further reading: 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' by Robert M. Pirsig and 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' by Philip K. Dick.

Commissioned by the Black Pencil ensemble and written under a composition stipend from the Performing Arts Fund NL.

May 13, 2014

Shackle in Huddersfield

Shackle was at Huddersfield University to teach their Converging Objects workshop and to perform a concert. We had a fabulous time. The workshop went really well, great students, very open-minded, great players! We performed a concert with them and closed the event with a Shackle set. Thanks to Phil, Eleanor, Elias and Stephen for the work!

(Photo by Julio d'Escrivan)

April 21, 2014

Shackle Tour US 2014

Shackle had a great tour on the US west coast this month. If you weren't there, you can hear excerpts on Shackle's website or on Soundcloud.

April 9, 2014

Shackle in San Francisco

shackle ncnw sf shackle ncnw sf2

Shackle performed with the fantastic Alex Christie in downtown San Francisco. Thanks to the friendly people from the Center for New Music for making this possible.

April 4, 2014

Shackle is on the road!

Shackle started her 2014 US West Coast Tour yesterday with classes and a concert at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Fabulous place, great people. SNOW!


February 10, 2014

Shackle Bits

Shackle’s new project is to extend the Shackle System into the visual domain by using silent film bits as a compositional component. We’re building a list of questions that include how we will synchronize the film bits with our music and our cueing system, what will take precedence: music or film, and what is the optimal size of the projections on the screen. We’ll keep you posted!


February 4, 2014

The Holding

An installation by Margret Wibmer for which I designed the sound and build the technology. Using STEIM's BigEye to track visitors in the space. 2006. Cameo by the composer at 1:30.

January 15, 2014

Meursault: Expired, 80 Miles, Coma

Last week I've been working on some songs I created last year.

Expired is a song created for my collaboration with Piet van Tienen. 'Electro Rock'? My first attempt at writing lyrics and composing for a traditional vocal/guitar/bass/drums combination. We haven't gotten together yet to arrange the song and record it, but I did make my own version.

80 Miles is a song created for the band Spoon3. Rather straightforward with a catchy chorus. Not enough rehearsal time before Spoon3's concert in November last year unfortunately, and there are no gigs scheduled, so I'm working on my own version. Experimenting now arranging it for vocal/guitar/bass/drums. I really enjoy trying to make midi versions of those instruments sound good, adding lo-fi and other effects.

Coma was my first piece for Spoon3, and that wasn't working very well. Too rigid, too composed for this group. I still like it, so I might also work on a midi version.

I will create these songs under the moniker of Meursault, the protagonist of Camus' L'Ètranger. I feel very connected to that character.

Tubes in Chains / wrap

The performance on Nov 3 in Orgelpark went really well. I've finally finished mixing the recording, documenting the piece and creating a webpage for it. Hopefully we can play it more often; the challenge would be adapting it for other organs. But I gladly accept that challenge!

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