Eta Car > STEIM Orientation Workshop #110

Hello, I am a writer and musician based in Frankfurt. I try to blend different styles of music into a coherent musical experience: minimal, progressive, noise, roots. You can hear my work at: soundcloud.com/etacar

The orientation workshop was a fantastic experience with direct bearing on my creative output. The days at Steim could be assessed on three levels: engineering, esthetic, interpersonal. I came here with a set of ongoing projects and technical issues, which hobbled the path to their completion. I left with inspiration and solutions.

The training sessions introduced the in-house software and hardware tools against their historical context. I had a chance to approach the experts who developed them, and receive valuable guidance with regard to my personal queries. The engineering aspect is perhaps more prominent in electronic music, compared to other genres. Working with new instruments, one must constantly face up to the technical challenges, which threaten and impede the artistic vision. Some of the veterans at Steim have made overcoming these issues their lives’ work. I don’t have the privilege to work with such people at home. It was wonderful to learn from them.

Next, the lecturers explored the overriding esthetic and philosophical questions that stem from instrument design and performance of experimental music forms. What are the critical issues in building an instrument? How do its characteristics stack up against the personal background, skillset and objectives of the performer? How is this type of music composed and scored?

While these points and their ramification have been raised before, exploring them in a coherent format under the guidance of experienced practitioners brought them forth with a new focus. These ideas resonate very differently for a budding artist who is groping for the way forward. The sessions were a chance to step aside and field-test my modus operandi.

This brings me to the human aspect, i.e. the third criterion for evaluating this course. Although we comprised a group of people with strikingly different influences and practices, all those attended this workshop agreed there was something special about the environment at Steim. In the end I wasn’t quite sure whether what fueled our creative energies was the forced exile of living in Amsterdam, the well-equipped studios, or the buzz in the hallways. Either way, it was a stimulating mixture and we followed up the daily lectures with nightly jam sessions. I hope some will morph into long-term collaborations.

Overall, I was very impressed with everyone I met at Steim and hope to go back for an extended residence at some point.

 

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