Future Shock: STEIM, 40 years of Innovation


The 40 year anniversary of STEIM and the contribution Michel Waisvisz.

In the ever expanding root structure of improvised musics, the rhizome of jazz still tethers a tight circle of sprouts, buds seemingly more like each other with each generation. This self similar, fractal like expansion, however, from time to time creates mutants – even cyborgs. It was 1969 when a collective of composers and improvisers based in Amsterdam formed the STudio for Electro-Instrumental Music, or STEIM, the mutant offspring of powerful Dutch improvising and composing personalities. The founders, Misha Mengelberg, Louis Andriessen, Peter Schat, Dick Raaijmakers (who has a monograph coming out in English in September of 2009), Jan van Vlijmen, Reinbert de Leeuw, Willem Breuker, and Konrad Boehmer, were attempting to organize themselves and find ways to generate support for their particular compositional and improvisation style – what they considered to be the future of Dutch music. Managing and organizing the numerous pieces of electronic hardware, including mixers and loud speakers, required to work with live electronics at the time demanded a collaborative style. Some of STEIM’s first work was supporting untamed electroacoustic theatre and the improvisations of the Instant Composers Pool. So began a venerable institution that this year celebrates its 40th anniversary.

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