Robert van Heumen Composer Improvisor Laptop-Instrumentalist Sound-Designer
Software Developer
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Robert van Heumen

Robert van Heumen: composer, improvisor, software developer, sound designer

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. He develops his work with realtime audio-synthesis software SuperCollider inspired by STEIM's live sampling software LiSa. Van Heumen is performing regularly in various ad-hoc constellations and he recentely ventured into the live coding community. As a software developer he builds his code in JavaScript, Angular 2.0 and PHP. His most recent project is a Music Catalog application with an Angular frontend and a PHP API.

Recent electro-acoustic works include the song-cycle Songs of Love (and Decay) and compositions KP6-3.7, Automatic, Point-to-Line and SPILL. Songs of Love is a collection of songs performed by Evelien van den Broek, based on a series of personal texts about love in a decaying world. KP6-3.7 is a composition for Utopa, the digitally-enhanced Baroque Organ at Orgelpark. The music of KP6-3.7 is a process, a journey and a continuation of the ideas developed for the piece First Law of Kipple. Using existing material from different media, morphing it unrecognizable, Van Heumen pays homage to his inspirations while creating something entirely new. Automatic is a set of short pieces for The Busy Drone, Orgelpark's Dance Organ. Focussing on the percussive instruments in the organ and utilizing non-standard techniques to generate sound from the instrument. Point-to-Line is a series of works: at first Point-to-Line is an installation for color projections and synthesis. Secondly PointCode is an online version build in JavaScript. Point-to-Organ is a performative version including both automatic organ and human-performed organ. SPILL is a composition for harp and live electronics as a musical response to fossil fuel disasters that often go unnoticed by the general public. The processed harp is sometimes cold as ice, sometimes hot as giant flames that can be seen from 20 miles away; she cries, screams, explodes, gulps and rumbles. Other works include the GeluidjesFabriek (SoundlingsFactory), an sound factory using the original sounds of a certain place to produce new sound objects, and Steenklank (Sound of Brick), a soundwalk on architecture in collaboration with Anne Rooschüz, commissioned by Soundtrackcity. Van Heumen was awarded a composition stipend from the Performing Arts Fund NL.

Van Heumen develops web applications in PHP, Angular, TypeScript and JavaScript. Projects include the NotuBiz system, an information system for local governments build by MyBit. PointCode is an audio-visual online installation developed in pure JavaScript. His code is available on Github.

Van Heumen documents his performances as well as his composed work on labels like Creative Sources Recordings, Evil Rabbit Records and Fridgesound. He is regularly teaching workshops on live electronics and structured improvisation, both in the Netherlands and internationally. He teaches the SuperCollider software at the Conservatory of Amsterdam. Van Heumen worked for 10 years at the Studio for Electo-Instrumental Music (STEIM) in Amsterdam as project manager, curator of the Local Stop concert series and member of the artistic committee. In the theater he worked with director Dirk Groeneveld, writer Simone de Jong and choreographer Anouk van Dijk. In a previous life he was a trumpet player, mathematician and software programmer. Van Heumen is inspired by mathematicians L.E.J. Brouwer and Kurt Gödel, writers Albert Camus and Philip K. Dick, composers GM König and John Carpenter and bands Pye Corner Audio and Boards of Canada.

Contact | Github | Bandcamp | Press photo's | Compositions | Sound Design | Collaborations | Releases | Videos | Sounds Archive


"The music of Shackle is truely strong and varied. There are fast, raw passages and also very subdued parts where something new can be heard every time you listen. The power of the duo is that they evoke curiosity without becoming overly abstract."
Jan Nieuwenhuis (Gonzo (circus)) on the Shackle Stick

"Digital brutalism in free form, vehement expressions, heightened efforts, wailings and atonal lamentations are all performed with uninterrupted breathing techniques - the electronic manipulation is relentless, full of powerful distortions, melancholic melodies and experimental combinations. Authentic, intricate compositions [...]."
Aurelio Cianciotta ( on ABATTOIR

"[...] Stranger in any case represents an intriguing chapter in the output of a hardly pigeon-hole-able emerging sound artist. There's more than meets the ears, though it takes persistence to find the combination needed to enter this obscure area, halfway through the remnants of excruciating memories and the blurred idea of an uncertain future."
Massimo Ricci (The Squid's Ear) on Stranger

"The trio deliver lively and unpredictable digital high-energy bursts by working in a very dynamic and inter-active environment, where one’s merest gesture or thought is transformed instantly into powerful sweeps of crackly texturised beltage. Fine work which transcends many of the clichés and pitfalls of laptop music."
Massimo Ricci (Paris Atlantic) on SKIF++'s CD .next

"... the whole set is sensuous fun as well as intellectually stretching."
Brian Morton (The Wire) on Whistle Pig Saloon

"... dynamic, ever changing, crackling, loud and soft, buzzing and hissing. Vibrant music this is, great music, moving away from the delicate structures of microsound into the land of noise based textures."
Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly) on Fury

"This is musique concrete that has torn away from its formal, academic origins. Deconstruction and reassembly in nasty extremis."
David Stubbs (The Wire) on SKIF++'s CD SK++ [01,02,03,04,00]

"Office-R(6) literally sculpt rather than play the music using acoustic instruments and computers yeilding a music that is subtly seismic and eminently contemporary."
Musicreaction on OfficeR's CD Recording the Grain


Music: compositions, sound design, collaborations



  • Sweet Summer Holidays in France, with Semay Wu (cello) & Robert van Heumen (laptop-instrument), performed at STEIM on March 26 2015
  • GeluidjesFabriek ZAAG55, a location-specific installation in the former Bolnes Motor Factory Zaag 55, Krimpen aan de Lek, The Netherlands (premiere September 14, 2014)
  • MOROS, a Sci-Fi film in sound for bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet and live electronics, performed by Laura Carmichael and Oğuz Büyükberber, composed with financial support from the Performing Arts Fund NL (premiere December 14, 2014 at Splendor Amsterdam in the SlowHZ program)
  • A Short Piece of Decay, a composition for block flute, pan flute, viola, accordion, percussion and live electronics, commissioned by the Black Pencil ensemble (premiere July 6, 2014, Summerwinds festival in Lingen DE)
  • Sonata for 10 pedals, a composition for harp, Disklavier and live electronics (composition Lucas Wiegerink, sound design Robert van Heumen, premiere Aug 14, 2014, Darmstadt DE)
  • Steenklank, a soundwalk commissioned by Soundtrackcity (premiere Nov 15, 2013, De Nieuwe Pijp Amsterdam)
  • Tubes in Chains, a composition for various organs, flute with electronics and laptop-instrument (premiere Nov 3, 2013, Orgelpark Amsterdam)
  • First Law of Kipple, a composition for 4 channel sound and MIDI-controlled organ, commissioned by Orgelpark (premiere Nov 3, 2013, Orgelpark Amsterdam)
  • MDFreeze, an algorithmic composition for 8 channels, commissioned by Call & Response (premiere Aug 17, 2013, Tonspur Vienna)
  • Night Call, a structured improvisation composition commissioned by the band IstanPOOL (premiere Oct 3, 2013, Rasa Utrecht)
  • Twelve-Twelve-Twelve by Money For Your Whale, published in three installments as an object combined with download (2013)
  • The Sound of the Machine, a composition for Disklavier and computer, commissioned by the Conlon Foundation (premiere Sept 8, 2011, Gaudeamus Muziekweek)
  • Like Harry, a theatrical soundwalk in collaboration with Simone de Jong (premiere Sept 11, 2011, Gaudeamus Muziekweek)
  • Soundtracks for stop-motion videos fibonacci scroll, Fashion Week and Fibonacci Flower by Susan Happersett (2010/2011)
  • No Man's Land, a radioplay commissioned by the CEM studio at WORM Rotterdam (premiere Dec 6, 2008, Dutch radio)
  • Stranger [ more ], an electronic composition (premiere multichannel version June 13, 2008, Culturelab Newcastle UK)
  • Silent, a set of short pieces based upon a specific synthesis process used by James Tenney (2007)
  • Fury (after anger), a 4-channel composition commisioned by the Sonic Circuits festival in Washington DC (premiere Oct 7, 2006)
  • Solitude, an audiovisual production with Arnoud Noordegraaf (video) (premiere at the November Music Festival (Den Bosch NL, Gent BE 2005)
  • Compositions for choreographies am i out? (2000), Alien (2001), Diva (2002), Amour Fou (2003), Drink me (2004), STAU (2004), Derivatives (2005) by Anouk van Dijk
For CD's and releases in other formats, go to the Releases section.


Sound Design

Sound Design overview page



  • SKIF++ with Bas van Koolwijk on interactive video and Jeff Carey on laptop: "...the trio deliver lively and unpredictable digital high-energy bursts by working in a very dynamic and inter-active environment, where one’s merest gesture or thought is transformed instantly into powerful sweeps of crackly texturised beltage."
  • Whistle Pig Saloon with guitarist John Ferguson: "... this music exudes the grace and violence of a NASA enterprise: at times lingering in static poses on the dark side of the moon, other moments crashing face-first into the sun."
  • OfficeR electro-acoustic sextet: "Contrapuntal layering of all these effects provides Office-R (6) with distinctiveness - an ever-shifting interface that negates minimalist austerity while clasping on to its hypnotic effects."



The audio-visual installation Point-to-Line, January 2017
Note: due to the screen-capture process the video quality is lower than in real live.

Curves with Shackle and Männer mit Motoren, October 30 2016

Chuck by Shackle

SPILL for harp and live electronics, performed by Miriam Overlach at Splendor on March 27, 2016

Untitled For Anne for flute and live electronics, performed by Anne La Berge at Orgelpark on November 28, 2015

The sound-walk Steenklank

Een interview met Anne La Berge en Robert van Heumen in het kader van een concert in Trouw, Amsterdam

The Full Spectrum concert at STEIM with Felipe Ignacio Noriega, Yung-Tuan Ku, Robert van Heumen, March 31 2016

Money for your Whale by Money For Your Whale

Sacred Noise for organ and laptop-instrument, performed by Jacob Lekkerkerker and Robert van Heumen at Orgelpark on November 28, 2015

ABATTOIR at STEIM CONCERT: Electronic Music Lab, May 8 2010, Japan Society, NYC USA

Sound of the Machine documentation version

Shackle at the OIRADIO sessions Sao Paulo Brazil, October 1 2012

Whistle Pig Saloon at ICMC 2011 Huddersfield UK

Solitude promotional video

More videos at Vimeo.

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