Converging Objects workshop

Workshop on Improvisation and Live Electronics

10 Dec 2013
11 Dec 2013

A 2-day workshop on improvisation for acoustic and electronic musicians.


Converging Objects workshop -

Registration must be made for this workshop in advance using the registration link at

As we proceed into the second decade of the 21st century we as composer/performers divide our time between conjuring up concepts, structures and scores and showing up on stage to play. We thrive on a precarious balance between creating and performing new works. That is not to say that we participate in every piece we make. But it does imply that the basis of our creative work is intimately tied to our individual playing, our instrument and our unique performing histories.

A significant number of composer/musicians is actively seeking for ways to use technology as an intimate and/or integrated partner for their acoustic instruments – some even design and build their own hybrid or purely electronic instruments. Their inspiration most often has its roots in their instruments and how they play them. It’s how they use their own bag of tricks: their talents, artistic passions, unique virtuosities, conceptual twists. And how they depend on their highly developed and unmistakable personal voices as performers. And last but not least, how they engage and integrate their bodies as real-time creative forces. That includes every body part, from their inner ears to their tapping feet. This real-time kinesthetically and intellectually driven music making lends itself well to improvisation as a handy tool in their work. Improvisation provides room for them to experiment and develop both as composers and as performers. And, considering the state of affairs in music technology, improvisation continues to be at the forefront as the favored performance mode. Interfaces, hardware vs. software, analog vs. digital and dealing with communication codes are still up and running issues for us all.

The Converging Objects workshop is a two-day hands-on workshop that will deal with these issues. We will introduce some ideas and concepts, the participants will play their instruments and together we will work on improvising skills as well as developing approaches to using live electronics. We will try to cater the workshop to the needs of the participants as much as possible.


DATE: 10 – 11 December, 2013
TIME: 10:00 – 18:00 (each day)
LOCATION: STEIM Concert Space, Utrechtsedwarsstraat 134 Amsterdam
COST: €60
Registration for this workshop must be made in advance using the registration link above. When you register please give us an indication of your experience with music technology and improvisation.

A tentative schedule:

Day 1
A brief history of live electronics, past and current. This will give the beginners some ideas as to how they would like to proceed and it will give the more experienced musicians material to articulate and evaluate why they have chosen the equipment they currently use.
Individual setups
Both the teachers and the participants will briefly describe their own setup and performance style. Beginners will be encouraged to talk about what they would like to use or to sound like.

Participants will play in various combinations, after which we will discuss what went on. Subgroups will be formed for the final presentation on the second day.

Day 2
Improvising with electronics
Discussing musical and instrumental gestures and how to control them technically, musical ideas that leave room for the electronics and vice versa, strategies for live sampling, communication with an ensemble while dealing with one’s own improvisational ideas and one’s own electronic setup.

The formed subgroups will have time to work on a performance for the evening. The workshop will end in a performance/presentation by the participants. In our duo Shackle we have created a set of guided improvisation compositions that are very well suited for a group of participants to play. We will work on a free improvisation and on a guided improvisation.

What to bring / prepare

All participants are expected to bring some kind of playable instrument, whether this is acoustic, electronic or a mixture of the two. When you register for the workshop, please indicate what acoustic instrument you are playing and/or what hardware and software you use in your setup.

This workshop is meant for acoustic improvising musicians who use live electronics, those who play with other musicians using electronics, and electronic musicians who improvise and work with acoustic players. The level of knowledge in electronics can be anything between just simply amplifying yourself to using sophisticated computer programs such as Max/MSP, Pure Data, Ableton Live and SuperCollider. The level of improvisation experience can be anything from none at all to having a career built around it.


Shackle is Anne LaBerge on flute and electronics and Robert van Heumen on laptop-instrument. Their aim is to explicity and subtly exploit shackling in both concept and material. This extraordinarily inventive duo has a way of making music all their own. At the heart of their duo is a self-designed, cutting-edge digital cueing system which operates as a sometimes visible third member. Both prodding and reactive, the Shackle system suggests musical directions and textures to these two highly gifted performers, opening up a fascinating array of sonic choices for La Berge and van Heumen to play with and

Improvisation and structure coincide effortlessly in Shackle’s music. Working with a computerized communication system that proposes various compositional elements to each player, they can then choose whether or not to cooperate with the proposed material. Proposals involve aspects of restriction, either in sound material, timing, dynamics or other musical

Anne LaBerg


Anne LaBerge‘s career as flutist/improviser/composer stretches across international and stylistic boundaries.
Her performances bring together the elements on which her international reputation is based: a ferocious and far-reaching virtuosity, a penchant for improvising delicately spun microtonal textures and melodies, and her wholly unique array of powerfully percussive flute effects, all combined with electronic processing. Many of her compositions involve her own participation, though she has produced works intended solely for other performers, usually involving guided improvisation and text. In addition to creating her own work she regularly performs in other artists’ projects in a range of settings from modern chamber music to improvised electronic music.

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, and is used live as well as in the studio to generate sonic material for electro-acoustic compositions. Van Heumen is performing regularly with Shackle (with electro-flutist Anne LaBerge).