On the road in OCT-NOV-DEC 2017

Posted in Announcement on October 16th, 2017 by admin

05.10 – Vector Synthesis, SIMULTAN Festival, Timisoara RO (pictured)

09-10.10 – Field recording workshop, 7 DAYS of SOUND, Klaipeda LT

13.10 – Vector Synthesis, Meq Festival, Centre Dramatique National de Montpellier, Montpellier FR

14.10 – SoundBoxes workshop, Meq Festival, Centre Dramatique National de Montpellier, Montpellier FR

11.11 – Vector Synthesis workshop + performance, sound art festival, Copenhagen DK

18.11 – Vector Synthesis, Piksel Festival, Bergen NO

22.11 – Vector Synthesis, MuTe Festival, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki FI

24.11 – Vector Synthesis, Noisy November, Viljandi EE

27-29.11 – Vector Synthesis workshop, Piksel Festival, Bergen NO

04-10.12 – SoundBoxes workshop [w/ Björn Eriksson], Hola folkhögskola, Prästmon SE

11-15.12 – Neanderthal Electronics workshop [w/ Jeroen Vandesande], RITCS Academy, Brussels BE

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Machine Deva Soundtrack + TONEWHEELS photos

Posted in Documentation on October 21st, 2012 by admin

Machine Deva Sound Track by macumbista

Original soundtrack by Derek Holzer for the short film “Machine Deva”, by Steve Holzer (19min, 2012, TX, USA). A very abstract love story created directly on 16mm film, using familiar and not-so-familiar direct manipulation. Hand color and intervention on found footage with unusual transfer techniques put the visual experience somewhere between cave paintings and a hand-held video of a dream world.


1.0: brief introductions/those who cannot remember [6:06]
2.0: first mutation [4:34]
2.1: the lecture(“étant donnés”) [1:51]
2.2: take the elevator [1:04]
3.0: second mutation/the dance [4:43]

Recorded April 15-May 15 2012, RSS-82 Berlin.

Derek Holzer: analog synthesizer, electronics, pure data, organ, percussion
Steve Holzer: synthesizer(1.0), guitar(2.1)

I will have CDRs of this soundtrack and DVDRs of the film itself available in late November, and I will try to organize a screening in Berlin to coincide with this. Please note that the film itself will not appear online, due to the detailed nature of the film manipulations which lose much of their impact through compression. Unless you are lucky enough to visit a screening organized by myself or Steve, the DVDR will be the next best thing. Please contact me if interested.

TONEWHEELS France Photos

Photos from Pau performance by Alvaro Ayuso

Photos from Pau performance by Nicolas Godin

Photos from Pau performance by Sandrine Ferrer

Photos from Marseille performance by Pierre Gondard

On the Road Again…

22-26 Oct: Neanderthal Electronics Workshop, Det Jyske Kunstakademi, Aarhus DK
26 Oct: Macumbista live set, SPLAB, Aarhus, DK
29 Oct – 02 Nov: Neanderthal Electronics Workshop, Nordic Sound Art, Copenhagen DK
02 Nov: Macumbista’s 40))) birthday whiskey-sipping session, hosted by Mads Bech Paluszewski-Hau, Copenhagen DK. RSVP for info.
05-09 Nov: Neanderthal Electronics Workshop, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki FI

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Regnskov 2012 in Copenhagen and Aarhus

Posted in Announcement on August 16th, 2012 by admin

Mads Bech Paulszewski-Hau and I will be running the “Rainforest” series of workshops at two events in Denmark next month: the LAK Festival in Copenhagen (6-9 September 2012) and the BY i BY Festival in Aarhus (14-16 September 2012). There are still spaces in both workshops, particularly the Aarhus one (which will be outdoors!), so please get in touch if you are interested at MACUMBISTA at the domain GMAIL dot COM.

Regsnkov 2012 is a contemporary re-interpretation of David Tudor’s series of compositions from the 1970′s entitled Rainforest. It uses various types of sonic transducers to play live sounds through a selection of resonant, found-metal objects in the performance space. A matrix mixer allows the sound from any of the performers to be sent to any of the objects, creating an immersive, tactile and spatial sonic experience.

The project is developed in a workshop format with up to 8 participants over a period of several days. The participants will work from the bio-acoustic model of an actual rainforest, where it is necessary for each species’ survival that they can both hear and be heard within their own niche of the busy forest soundscape.

You can download a PDF of information about the project here: http://macumbista.net/files/rainforest_overview.pdf

Other up and comings:

28 Sep – [w/Vanessa Ramos-Velasquez] Basic Electricity, Berlin DE (more on this soon!)
9-13 Oct – TONEWHEELS, Le festival accès(s), Pau FR
17 Oct – TONEWHEELS, RIAM Festival, Marseilles FR
22-26 Oct – Neanderthal Electronics, Danish Art Academy, Aarhus DK (TBC!)
29 Oct-02 Nov – Neanderthal Electronics, Nordic Sound Art, Copenhagen DK
05-09 Nov – Neanderthal Electronics, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki FI
16 Nov – TONEWHEELS, VisionSonic, Paris FR (TBC!)

Now Playing

crippled black phoenix(mankind) the crafty ape[2012]
wovenhandlive at roepaen[2012]

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Video–Studio Improv 30 Apr 2012 + Norberg Report

Posted in Documentation on August 1st, 2012 by admin

Derek Holzer-Studio Improv 30 Apr 2012 from macumbista on Vimeo.

Getting the computer out of my live sound was the best thing that ever happened to me. When I work with the modular synthesizer, I feel like I have a piece of clay in my hands which I can squeeze in any direction I choose. This short improvisation was made during filming of the documentary “Learning to Listen”, on sound artists in several European cities by London College of Communication students Dann Linn, Marianna Sangita and Andi Spowart.

Soundbox at Norberg Fest, photo by possan

Norberg Report

I’m just back from my Swedish gig, where I spent the weekend gazing longingly at leggy blonds and red farmhouses, slapping mosquitoes, sipping expensive beers and teaching 25 people to build small noise-boxes in the summer sun. Concert went great, with a huge Function One sound system in the gigantic, resonant Mimer mine-shaft hall for that all-over body bass-massage kind of feeling. One of the best parts was that, some weeks ago, I dreamt that two friends from Estonia came to the festival with me. When I wrote them about it, they replied, “Roadtrip sounds like a great idea! See you soon!” So they did.

Big thanks to Sol Andersson and Johannes Ahlberg for the invitation and John Anker Corneliussen for the sound! Also managed to catch a few great sets, most notably by Carl Michael von Hauswolff and the lovely drone duo Kyrkan. Just as awesome, and tasty to boot, was James Brewster‘s Electro-acoustic cafe–a mic’ed up espresso stand with the option for extra delay or wah on your foamed milk.

Interior of the Mimer photos by possan, Derek Holzer live set at Norberg Fest by Rotwang @ 99musik.se

Another great thing was the wide range of folks who dropped by to build these little Neanderthal instuments–people who by and large would never show up at an “experimental noise” gig suddenly discovered the insane, child-like pleasure of making their own noise. A selection of these good people can be seen above. Thony Ekström has posted a 28 minute video of the workshop presentation here. I like the part where the orchestra warms up in the beginning…

Norberg Neanderthal photos by Björn Eriksson and Rotwang @ 99musik.se (last). Tack!!!

Electronics Work

I spent quite a bit of July working on this chopper with a student named Alvaro Ayuso. He didn’t quite finish it… a problem if you’re a young Spanish dude with too many friends around I suppose. Synth building is a solitary pursuit. So consider this a work in progress. Good going so far, amigo, now let’s bring it on home!

Tech details: line input, mic input, 2 x line outputs, dual VCA, 2 x VCO, dual VC Slope, Utility LFO, DC Mixer, Steiner VC Filter, Wave Multiplier. All PCBs by Ken Stone/CGS.

And finally… here’s a Serge Power Supply Unit I built for my friend Richard Scott:

Yeah, I guess it’s been a busy month…

Now Playing

old man gloomno[2012 hydra head]
omadvaitic songs[2012 drag city]
swanslive at berghain[04 aug 2012 berlin](looking forward!)

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SoundBoxes Helsinki Info + Video

Posted in Documentation on June 18th, 2012 by admin

The MUU Gallery requested info-sheets for each of the instruments I am showing there. A whole weekend of vector-scribbling later, I present these examples of my mad Inkscape skillz as testament to the fact that I probably should get more sunlight this summer…

Download the PDF catalog with photos here:

Wolf Tone Box
Derek Holzer

This box was created from a found children’s karaoke toy specially for the MUU Invisible Time exhibition, Helsinki (FI). It features a voice-changing circuit, condenser microphone and loudspeaker mounted in an antique wooden box, and has been equipped with “bend points” where physical contact with the circuit changes the sound.

1) On/Off Switch
2) Volume Knob
3) Input Jack
4) 9V Power Input: for battery or wall adaptor
5) Speaker
6) Bend Points: touching two of the screws together with your finger can “bend” the sound of the instrument, or flip one of the switches to hold a certain sound
7) Condenser Microphone with Flexible Neck

To Play:

A) Press the On/Off Switch, you will see a small light above the Speaker when the box is activated
B) Speak into the Condenser Microphone
C) Adjust the Volume Knob to lower the level, raise it or create feedback
D) Feedback can be also created by lowering the Microphone nearer to the Speaker
E) Experiment with the Bend Points using either fingers on the screws or the switches
F) If the sound dies out, speak into the microphone again

This instrument is for sale, price EUR 260.

Macumba Benjolin
Derek Holzer

The Benjolin is a circuit designed by Rob Hordijk from the Netherlands. It contains two oscillators (one slow and one fast), a band-pass filter and a circuit Hordijk calls the “Rungler”, which allows chaotic feedback possibilities between the different parts of the circuit. This one has been customized with an old silverware case, a built-in amp and speaker and a patchbay for further chaotic interactions.

1) On/off Switch
2) Inputs: the four left-hand-side jacks are inputs, don’t unplug these. The black connection with the red cable connects to the speaker. The other input jacks connect to different parts of the oscillators.
3) Outputs: the eight right-hand-side jacks are outputs, play with these. The black jack is the output of the filter. The others others are different parts of the oscillators.
4) Volume knob
5) Output jack, for plugging into other SoundBoxes
6) Speaker: this is turned off when something is plugged into the output jack
7) Filter Controls: these will only change the sound when using the black output jack
8) Oscillator Controls: these change the frequency and chaos levels of the oscillators

To Play:

A) Flip the On/Off switch upwards
B) Adjust the Volume Knob
C) Create feedback by plugging the blue cables from the left-hand side into the different output jacks on the right hand side
D) Listen to different parts of the synthesizer connecting the red cable from the black jack on the left-hand side to any of the output jacks on the right-hand side
E) Use the top row of knobs to adjust the two oscillators
F) Use the bottom row of knobs to adjust the filter, and remember you only hear the filter when the red cable is connected to the black output jack
9) The Macumba Benjolin requires two VERY FRESH 9V block batteries to operate properly

This instrument is from the personal collection of the artist. Customizations of many electronic music circuits are available on request.

M79 Super
Derek Holzer

The smallest synthesizer I have ever made, the M79 Super was built during the Piksel Neanderthal Electronics workshop in Bergen (NO). Here, three oscillators, a tiny speaker and two sound-reactive LEDs are placed inside a beautiful, old, palm-sized flashlight from the 1970’s.

1) On/Off Switch
2) Third Oscillator On/Off Switch
3) Oscillator Frequency Control Knobs
4) Output Jack: to connect the M79 Super to larger speakers
5) Very Small Loudspeaker
6) Two Audio-reactive LEDs: one of these displays the waveform of Oscillators 1+2, and the second displays the waveform of Oscillator 3

To Play:

A) Slide down the On/Off Switch located on the side of the object
B) Flip the Third Oscillator On/Off Switch up or down to activate/deactivate Oscillator 3, and notice what effect it has on the sound
C) Adjust the frequencies of the different Oscillators
D) You can make a filter by covering the small Loudspeaker with a cupped hand or your mouth

This instrument is for sale, price EUR 130.

Electric Spring II and III
Derek Holzer

These are simple, resonant drone boxes using the feedback between a simple contact microphone with a coil-spring and the speaker to make rich harmonic sounds or metallic reverb effects. These were created in an edition of three for the Electric Spring Festival in Huddersfield (UK).

1) On/Off Switch
2) Volume Knob
3) Input Jack: other kinds of microphones or instruments could also be connected here
4) Contact Microphone + Spring: this microphone picks up physical vibrations rather than sounds from the air. It has a resonant coil spring attached to it which makes the drone and also can be used as an “antenna” to search for new sounds
5) Speaker

To Play:

A) Turn Volume Knob all the way to the left
B) Place the Contact Microphone across the Speaker
C) Flip the On/Off switch upwards
D) Adjust the Volume Knob until you start to hear a tone
E) Adjust the position of the Contact Microphone + Spring and the Volume Knob to find new sounds
F) You may gently touch the Speaker with the Spring, but please do not press hard or you will damage the Speaker

These instrument are for sale, price EUR 80 each.

SoundBox I
Derek Holzer

This was the first SoundBox instrument I created in 2010. It uses feedback and the physical vibration of the speaker cone to create different kinds of chaotic sounds.

1) On/Off Switch
2) Volume Knob
3) Input Jack: other kinds of microphones or instruments could also be connected here
4) Speaker
5) Contact Microphone: this microphone picks up physical vibrations rather than sounds from the air. It has two “antenna” attached to it to search for new sounds.

To Play:

A) Turn Volume Knob all the way to the left
B) Place the Contact Microphone across the Speaker
C) Flip the On/Off switch upwards
D) Adjust the Volume Knob until you start to hear a tone
E) Adjust the position of the Contact Microphone and the Volume Knob to find new sounds
F) Place some of the found objects provided in the speaker and see how the vibrations move them around and change the sound

This instrument is from the personal collection of the artist, and is used frequently in performance.

SoundBox II
Derek Holzer

The second SoundBox I built, this one remains a bit incomplete–it looks better than it functions. Besides the normal SoundBox microphone/amplifier/speaker feedback loop, this one was intended to have a small synthesizer circuit which would alter the sound as it passed through. This part didn’t work out so well, but I left the controls to remind me that one day I should fix it!

1) On/Off Knob
2) Three Useless Controls
3) Input Jack: for Contact Microphone or other sound sources
4) Speaker
5) Contact Microphone + Spring: this microphone picks up physical vibrations rather than sounds from the air. It has a resonant coil spring attached to it which makes the drone and also can be used as an “antenna” to search for new sounds

To Play:

A) Turn the On/Off Knob clockwise, you will feel a click when the box turns on, but please don’t expect it to control the volume as well!
B) Don’t bother with the Three Useless Controls either, they’re only decorations at this point
C) Adjust the position of the Contact Microphone + Spring to find new sounds
D) You may gently touch the Speaker with the Spring, but please do not press hard or you will damage the Speaker

This instrument is from the personal collection of the artist, and is a work-in-progress.

Derek Holzer: live SoundBox Performance at MUU Gallery, Helsinki 07 June 2012. Video by Rita Leppiniemi.

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Souvenirs from Abroad

Posted in Documentation on March 24th, 2012 by admin


Sometimes when I think back, all my workshops seem to go by this fast…

The participants in Zagreb were great, super-motivated and highly imaginative. Each and every one of them made some incredibly special and unique SoundBox during the two days we had together, and even played them too… We also squeezed in an early morning trip to the local flea market to put the shop back into workshop. Big thanks to Deborah Hustic for organization and hospitality! Was also great to see some old friends around town, such as Ivan “Kliff” Marusic and Borut Savski.

I think my favorite SoundBox from this workshop was this one, crafted from the end of a trashed accordion:


Between 5-9 March, students of the EKA (Taavi Suisalu, Evi Pärn, Lilli Tölp, Aleksander Sprohgis) learned to make their own primitive noise synthesizers with me. Lilli made this short video capturing the essence of the final presentation plus a tiny bit of my solo set.

Evi also posted two videos, here and here.

Like the previous Neanderthal Electronics presentation, back when Ptarmigan was still located in Helsinki, this one was a complete success. Thanks to Raivo Kelomees and John Fail for organizing the workshop and presentation, respectively. Any account of my Estonian trip would be woefully incomplete without mentioning Timo Toots and Marika Agu and their Sunday-afternoon tour of the Architectural Wonders of Tartu. Aitäh!


Derek Holzer vs Jelena Glazova live @Taka 16.03.12 pt3 by macumbista

Live set @ Taka, Riga, March 16th, 2012. Derek Holzer: analog synthesizer, soundbox, found objects. Jelena Glazova: voice, laptop.

Parts 1 and 2 plus some studio sessions can be found at Holzer vs Glazova.

Thanks to Sandis Baumanis [ULVE Agency] for organization and photos, Jēkabs Nīmanis for recording, Edgars Rubenis for the mixer and Olesja for the lovely smile.

Unfortunately, the only souvenir that RISEBA, the school I was teaching at, left me was a headache. Typical Latvian new-capitalist neoliberals, they seemed to delight in playing ridiculous games over even the smallest amount of money, making them little better than con-artists. The result: I worked twice as many hours this workshop as last year, for the same amount of pay. Count your fingers after you shake hands with people like these…

On that note…

People like these business-school asswipes make me sicker than ever of this constant freelancing life. I have been actively searching for more constant employment teaching at an art, music or design school lately. If any of my dear readers have tips, I would gladly hear them. In some ways, I am beyond caring where such a job might be at this point…

On the other hand, spring has arrived in Berlin and I have very little travel coming up. While that may make the coming months a bit lean and hungry, I hope to use the time to catch up on projects I have promised people, including two cassette releases and a film soundtrack, as well as building some new soundbox-type instruments for sale. Wish me luck!

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Kickstarter + HR-EE-LV Travel

Posted in Announcement on February 28th, 2012 by admin

Machine Deva: An Experimental Art Film

“Machine Deva’s gonna be an unusual experience, it’s someplace between looking at cave paintings in a hand-held home movie that I’ve brought into my dreams.” –Steve Holzer

A distinguished gentleman who I happen to have known my entire life is busy creating his latest camera-less film, and has invited me to help create the soundtrack. He has a Kickstarter page for the project, with a very reasonable goal of $3000 set. He’s halfway there and has only 11 more days to do it. So if you are one of those aspiring patron-of-the-arts-types, you could do worse than to get on board this project. Please drop by and have a look!

Travel & Upcoming Engagements

03-04 March: SoundBoxes workshop + Concert @ Student Center Zagreb HR. Practice your Hrvatski here.

06-09 March: Neanderthal Electronics workshop @ Estonian Academy of Art New Media Dept, Tallinn EE

09 March: Neanderthal Electronics workshop presentation + Concert @ Ptarmigan, Tallinn EE. Read it and weep.

12-16 March: Sound+Space/The Art of Field Recording workshop at RISEBA, Riga LV.

16 March ???: Derek Holzer & Jelena Glazova live set… date and venue to be confirmed, watch this space!

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SoundBoxes Aalborg Workshop Photos

Posted in Documentation on November 20th, 2011 by admin

On Friday the 18th of November, 2011 I worked with a group of students from the Jutland Music Conservatory Aalborg to create a collection of simple soundboxes. Each is made up of a contact microphone, a half-watt audio amplifier, a speaker and perhaps some body contacts to “bend” the sound of the instrument.

Much of the day was spent in learning the circuit and construction. Following this, the students began to experiment with integrating their own, personal found objects. At some point, we threw all the boxes into a grand piano and things got a bit crazy. I’ll have to remember that trick for later on!

We also experimented with passing the feedback sound around from box to box, before unleashing the instruments on the unsuspecting student bar that evening. It’s always amazing to see the transition from befuddled audience member hearing someone else’s noise to enthusiastic feedbacker/mic-scraper entranced by sounds of their own making.

Thanks to Christian Skjødt for organizing the whole shebang, and to Edit Emese Vizer for the pancakes!

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Neanderthal Electronics Aarhus Photos

Posted in Documentation on November 7th, 2011 by admin

Thanks to DIEM for inviting me and to all the students for working their asses off. Look at those Danes go! Seems like they had a good time. Wonder if all that beer I bought them had something to do with it?

In other news: I turned 39 last week. A year short of the big four-o))). I spent it in Copenhagen contemplating hard labor with the films of Phill Niblock, getting polyrhythmic with the Afro-noise of Cut Hands/William Bennett and getting my ears good and scrubbed by Lasse Marhaug. Here’s to many more such nights…

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Two Aarhus Events

Posted in Announcement on October 26th, 2011 by admin

Presentation by DIEM students of Det Jyske Musikkonservatorium
Friday 28 Oct 20.00, Rhythmic Hall
Skovgaardsgade 2C Aarhus DK

Over 5 days, students of the Danish Institute for Electro/Acoustic Music under the direction of Derek Holzer learned how to design and build their own personal, customized primitive noise synthesizers using simple objects from our modern environment such as resistors, capacitors, transistors, LEDs, integrated circuit chips and other found materials.

Each is a tiny world of its own, using primitive analog computers in combination with feedback, sensors and audio inputs to create a unique sound. Even from the same plan, no two are alike! This workshop concludes with a group performance in the Rhythmic Hall of the Conservatory, and an invitation to the audience to experiment with each of the instruments which have been created.

More info: http://macumbista.net/?page_id=497

Hosted by Ljud.dk
26-27 November, Huset, Aarhus
Register: christian AT.THE.DOMAN ljud.dk
Final Presentation 27 November, location+time TBA
There are 10 places, cost DKK 200, reservations strongly recommended!
Supported by Kulturforvaltningen, Aarhus Kommune

Discover the hidden sonic qualities of objects from our everyday world
in this two day workshop, combining the arts of electronics, noise,
sculpture and collage. The basic elements of this workshop are a wooden
box, a speaker, a small audio amplifier, some distortion and a contact
microphone. To this, brave box-builders will add their own found
objects, graphics, images, memories and ideas to create a unique
electroacoustic cabinet of curiosities.


Day One: Introduction to simple noise/electroacoustic electronics,
circuit soldering.

Day Two: Box-building, decoration and collage, experimentation with
found objects as sound sources.

Final Presentation: All participants will present their finished
soundboxes to the public at the end of the second day!

More info: http://macumbista.net/?page_id=1897


Derek Holzer (1972) is an American sound artist living in Berlin, 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. Holzer is currently an artist-in-residence and guest-teacher at the Danish Institute of Electro/acoustic Music, Aarhus DK.


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