LEARNING TO LISTEN – an Artist Talk and Workshop with Derek Holzer

Posted in Announcement on December 31st, 2012 by admin

LEARNING TO LISTEN: an Artist Talk and Workshop with Derek Holzer
Jan 06-07 2013, Marfa Book Company, 105 South Highland, Marfa, Texas 6PM-8:30PM
Jan 09 2013, Michael Strogoff, 124 E. El Paso St, Marfa, Texas 8PM


I do what I do because I never learned to play the guitar. Starting with an interest in field recording and environmental sound, I soon moved to teaching myself to build first digital and then analog non-traditional sound instruments as a way out of the problems of “virtuosity” in music. A great deal of my work involves simply listening, whether to natural or electronically generated soundscapes, searching for that beautiful chaos of birds, hailstorms or cicadas that produce the kinds of dense, arrhythmic textures that I enjoy the most.

As my work is so much about learning to listen, this two day artist-talk and workshop will focus on the art of listening. I’ll start by introducing my history, my practice and the instruments I create. We’ll continue by listening to several field recordings by myself (and possibly others), using these as a springboard to talk about listening from the perspectives of both science (physics, acoustics, psychoacoustics, psychology, etc) and culture (musicology, anthropology, architecture, urban planning, film studies, etc).

There will be opportunities on the second day for workshop participants to play and discuss their own soundscapes, and we will work towards a definition of what “soundscape” actually means. The workshop concludes with an introduction to some of the tools I use to both record natural soundscapes and create my own electronic soundscapes.

This workshop is open to the public and participation is by a donation of your choice. Please bring your own paper and a writing/drawing tool as these will be very important during the workshop!

I will also make an approx 40 minute live performance on Weds, 09 January at 8:00PM in the Michael Strogoff art space, 124 E. El Paso St. The performance is also free or by donation.

DAY ONE – Sunday 06 January 2013 18:00-20:30
Marfa Book Company, 105 South Highland, Marfa, Texas

–Introduction to Holzer’s work: field recordings, digital instruments, analog instruments
–Introduction to Soundscapes: R. Murray Schafer, Pauline Oliveros, Chris Watson, CRESSON, John Cage and others
–Listening Exercises I: field recordings from around the world by Holzer and others

DAY TWO – Monday 07 January 2013 18:00-20:30
Marfa Book Company, 105 South Highland, Marfa, Texas

–Continuing Soundscapes: working towards a definition of the soundscape, the difference between soundscape and “music”
–Listening Exercises II: soundscapes from around the world by Holzer, others and participants
–Tools of the Electronic Soundscape: field recorders, microphones, software, synthesizers, effects

DAY THREE – Wednesday 09 January 2013 20:00
Michael Strogoff, 124 E. El Paso St, Marfa, Texas

–Live sound performance for found objects, SoundBox and analog modular synthesizer


Derek Holzer (1972) is an American sound artist based in Berlin, Germany, whose current interests include DIY analog electronics, sound art, field recording and the meeting points of electroacoustic, noise, improv and extreme music. He has played live experimental sound, as well as taught workshops in noise art technology, across Europe, North America, Brazil and New Zealand.


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Happy Holidays from the High Desert Plains!

Posted in Announcement on December 27th, 2012 by admin

Current location = Marfa TX. See you all in 2013!

In other news, I broke down and got a FaceBook account, so see you there perhaps as well.

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MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM.13 – “Indeterminism Machines”

Posted in Announcement on December 22nd, 2012 by admin

I will be the general assistant for this upcoming hacklab/workshop scenario at CTM.13 in Berlin. It’s a very interesting bunch of characters involved, and the application process just started. So send some shit in!

MusicMakers Hacklab @ CTM.13 – “Indeterminism Machines”
Submission Deadline: 11.1.2013
Hacklab Runs: 29.1 – 1.2.2013

We don’t want to just talk about the future: we want to invent our own Golden Age. The MusicMakers Hacklab at CTM.13 will be an open, collaborative environment in which participants can learn about new technologies and get their hands on making their own musical inventions. It’s a space in which people can build a rapid prototype of anything they imagine, creating new ideas around music making and creation, from composition to performance and DJing.

We’re inviting people across media to encourage collaboration: musicians, developers, artists, designers, people working in skills like sound and music, but also code, fashion, visuals, and industrial design and craft.

Throughout the week, we’ll welcome artist and developer presentations from Keith Fullerton Whitman, Imogen Heap, Lucas Abela, Tim Exile, Ali Demirel, Native Instruments, Ableton, and others to be announced. Participants will share hands-on skill sessions on topics like physical computing and custom controllers, wearable technology and fashion, live visuals, Pure Data/libpd, Max for Live, Reaktor, OpenSoundControl, Quartz Composer, Processing, and more.


Selected participants who have proposed a project idea will be named official Hacklab Fellows and be provided with:

* A free CTM Festival Pass;
* Highlighted profile on CTM and createdigitalmusic.com websites;
* The chance to show your finished work at the live showcase at Berghain Kantine on 1 Feb, as part of the CTM.13 program.

In that spirit of sharing and community, the Hacklab will be open to walk-ins from both hackers and the general public.


To be part of the Hacklab Fellows program, please submit:

* A 150-word description of the project you’d like to execute;
* A 100-word bio;
* If you’d like, send us any images, sketches, videos, or websites you’d like to help us promote your participation and see what’s inside your head. (optional)

Remember that you can include an idea about collaboration in your proposal – some Hacklab participants might want to join in your project.

Send your submission (and any questions/comments) to: musicmakers(at)ctm-festival.de by 11.1.2013.

Presented with createdigitalmusic.com in collaboration with SemiDomesticated and CTM
Curated by Peter Kirn
General Assistant: Derek Holzer

Direct link: http://www.ctm-festival.de/news/current-news/news/article//call-for-works-sign-up-for-the-musicmakers-hacklab-ctm13.html

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Solstice SoundBoxes Wrap Up

Posted in Documentation on December 20th, 2012 by admin

The Solstice SoundBoxes were intended as small, portable and battery-powered electro-acoustic instruments. They can create a variety of drone and reverb-type sounds through feedback between a small speaker and a resonant piezo-electric microphone. A variety of other features were available, including transparent and backlit speakers, decorations within the box, line-outs and “circuit-bending” body contacts. They could also simply be used as cigar-box amplifiers for whatever other electronic instruments you might have.

On 11 December, I took a huge load to the post office and freed myself for a month-long holiday trip to Marfa, Texas. Out of an edition of 30, 27 were sold or gifted to people, which ain’t too bad for a week’s worth of promotional work. You can see the most of the run below. I plan on another edition in January or February. Stay tuned… and happy Solstice!

The roster of recipients [in no particular order]:

Sonny Rosenberg
Lars Lundehave Hansen
Peter Votava
Carsten Stabenow
Jason R. Butcher
Jonathan Lukacek
Steve Holzer
Juhani Liimatainen
Miki Brunou
David Massey
Walker Farrell
Björn Eriksson
Christian Schiller
Richard Quirk
Gregg Wilson
Rob Appleby
Stefan Paul Goetsch
Luka Ivanovic [not pictured]

Now Playing:

The desert…

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Solstice SoundBoxes 2012

Posted in Announcement on December 2nd, 2012 by admin

I have been working on a series of SoundBoxes for sale and as gifts for the Winter Solstice 2012. These SoundBoxes contain a 1/2 Watt audio amplifier, a small speaker and a resonant contact microphone, all housed in beautiful antique cigar boxes or jewelry/silverware cases. Each box is unique and hand made, and bears the traces of its history as an everyday object before it was transformed into a primitive, intuitive feedback-sound-instrument.

This run of SoundBoxes is quite similar to ones which participants have created in my workshops over the last couple years. They can be used to create self-modulating drones, as seen in this video, or to bring out the hidden sounds within found objects as seen in this video.

Finally, as they run on a single 9V battery, you could make a portable concert with any other kind of sound input, such as a guitar, keyboard or smartphone. Some boxes include an line-output, “circuit-bending” style body contact points or a transparent, backlit speaker providing a window to graphical images or patterns inside the box, as in the Ghost Lockets series from last year.

Please contact me at MACUMBISTA at_the_domain GMAIL.COM (or use the contact page) during the coming week of 3-9 December if you are interested in purchasing one of these before 2013! I will be away from my studio from 12 Dec to 13 Jan. Prices range from EUR 50-90, depending on the box used and features included.

I have several styles of antique boxes to choose from (as seen in the first picture in this post), as well as the different added features mentioned. Some of the following boxes may also still be available, as noted. In addition, I can create made-to-order SoundBoxes from antique boxes in my stock at the moment.

All SoundBoxes come with a resonant spring contact microphone.


Set of four SoundBoxes, made in cedar cigar boxes and commissioned by Richard Quirk. The top pair includes a backlit 77mm transparent speaker, providing a view to two different antique Danish photographs from approximately the 1930s. The bottom pair uses powerful speakers to increase the physical resonance of the box and microphone. These boxes are SOLD.


This set of SoundBoxes are built into a variety of antique cases for jewelry, pens and silverware which have been found in Berlin and Paris. These feature black 92mm speakers and audio-responsive color LED lights. The textures of these cases are incredible, my favorite being the fountain-pen case in the top middle (which uses a minijack plug and 77mm speaker). The fountain-pen case and the box with the diagonal stripe, both pictured in close-up above, are SOLD. Besides those, all the rest of these boxes are available for sale.


In general, the speakers I use are either 92mm or 77mm wide, however occasionally I find large boxes and therefore prefer to use larger speakers. The top box once contained a set of silverware and now contains a set of six “circuit-bending” body contacts, while the bottom box still contains the aroma of tobacco. These are the only large-speaker SoundBoxes I am currently offering for sale. BOTH SOLD!!!!


These boxes are available for made-to-order SoundBoxes. They are drilled to use a transparent 77mm speaker. The inside of these boxes is lit by an LED, and images or graphics can be placed inside, as seen below in these examples from last year’s collection:


These boxes are available for made-to-order SoundBoxes. They are drilled to use a black 92mm speaker. I have several of the box in the rear-middle, marked “Pallas”, as seen below:


These Japanese chiyogami 70g/m² patterned papers are currently available for decorating the interiors of the SoundBoxes which have transparent speakers. Other options include vintage photography prints, reflective paper (silver, gold), other found objects (bones, shells, reflective materials…) or custom graphics printed from your digital file.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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