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Robert van Heumen Composer Improvisor Laptop-Instrumentalist

Next event on January 28, 2015: Impro with Jasper Stadhouders in Club 100

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 M√ľnster-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)

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