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Spv: Derek Holzer

Historically Informed Sound Synthesis


To collaboratively design new sound processing and synthesis instruments which draw upon the rich history of electronic sound technology in Sweden.


This two-phased project explores vintage sound synthesis and processing technology from the 1960s and 1970s used in Sweden. MA students involved in this project investigate a specific historical artifact from the history of the Kungl. Musikhögskolan (KMH) and Elektronmusikstudion (EMS), archived by the Statens Musikverket and the Scenkonstmuseet. In the first phase, the students collaborate with musicians and composers to create short sound works with the artifact and reflect on the process. In the second phase, students use these experiences as inspiration to design a new sonic instrument informed by the historic one.

Some examples of these artifacts can be seen at:


Analysis of vintage sound technologies, speculative design and rapid prototyping of sound synthesis instruments using contemporary technologies, participation in a stimulating co-learning environment.


Historical tools for the creation of electronic and electro-acoustic sound, including:

  • Analog sound synthesis devices
  • Analog sound processing, mixing, and diffusion equipment
  • Early digital event sequencing hardware and computers

Contemporary methods of sound instrument prototyping, including:

  • Analog signal/sound electronics
  • Interface design elements such as physical sensors or screen based elements using TouchOSC
  • Interactive, realtime audio programming environments such as Pure Data, SuperCollider, or Max/MSP
  • Embedded Digital Signal Processing platforms such as Axoloti, Bela, or Raspberry Pi


By the end of the MA project, the student will have gathered data about the design and use of at least one historic sound synthesis instrument, and participated in the collaborative design of at least one contemporary sound synthesis instrument inspired by the historic one.


The outcomes of this project contribute to an understanding of historic sound technology within the fields of New Interfaces for Music Expression (NIME), Sound and Music Computing (SMC), media archaeology, and the musicology of electronic and electro-acoustic composition in the Nordic region.


Derek Holzer, designer of analog and digital audio/visual instruments since 2002, and PhD candidate in Sound and Music Computing at KTH