Percussa micro super signal processor

The Body, The Circuit, The Computer and The Voice: robot cowboy from STEIM Amsterdam on Vimeo.

If you want to look for some of the roots of live electronic musical performance, STEIM is one place to start. Founded in 1969 by a group of Dutch composers (Misha Mengelberg, Louis Andriessen, Peter Schat, Dick Raaymakers, Jan van Vlijmen, Reinbert de Leeuw, and Konrad Boehmer), and led by the late “founding father” Michel Waisvisz, it has remained an important hub for inventing music technologies. It was one of the first places that gave an indication that these kind of experiments could extend beyond academic labs into grassroots DIY movements and DJ/VJ club culture alike.

Amsterdam has been looking to do a Handmade Music series for a while, and this Wednesday we kick it off. There’s a huge lineup, so I’m packing two video cameras and one audio recorder into my luggage today before flying out.

You can check out the whole lineup on the STEIM blog, for a sense of what the Dutch DIY community is up to:
Feb 17 2010: Hotpot Lab #2 – Handmade Music Amsterdam

The event is Wednesday night; doors open at 20:00 and it’s free. See the STEIM concerts page.

I’ll also be doing an informal “State of the Union” address on the state of DIY tech, where things might go, and where people may get involved – and most importantly, what we can do to make these developments musically productive. One of the things that came out of comments last week is that we need better documentation. If people want to get involved in a broader community, outside even our traditional music community, DIY platforms for software and hardware must first be better documented, more usable, and more accessible.

Anyway, I’m thrilled to have a chance to bridge New Amsterdam (NYC) with Old Amsterdam, and start that conversation by listening and learning from a great group of people. Stay tuned.

We’ll have some guest posts through the week while I’m traveling, as well, and I’ll be back on home soil next week.