Institute of Sonology

The Institute of Sonology is an education and research center for electronic music and computer music based at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in the Netherlands.


The institute was founded at the University of Utrecht in 1960 under the name STEM ("Studio for Electronic Music") as a successor to the former studio for electronic music at Philips Research Laboratories in Eindhoven. In 1964, Gottfried Michael Koenig became the studio's artistic director. The studio grew under Koenig's leadership, and in 1966 an annual international electronic music course was founded which exists to this day.[1]

In 1967 STEM was renamed as the "Institute of Sonology". International attention increased in 1971 with the purchase of a PDP-15 computer which was used to develop programs for algorithmic composition and digital sound synthesis.[2] During the early years of the institute a series of landmark programs were developed there, including Koenig's Project 1, Project 2,[3] and SSP,[4] Paul Berg's PILE,[5] Werner Kaegi's MIDIM/VOSIM,[6] and Barry Truax's POD.[7]

In 1986, the institute was moved to the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, hosting the International Computer Music Conference there during its inaugural year.[8]

Current research focuses on algorithmic composition, live electronic music, historical reconstructions of electronic and computer music (including György Ligeti's Pièce électronique Nr. 3 and Edgard Varèse's Poème électronique), field recording, sound installations, and sound spatialization.[9] Alongside the annual one-year course, the institute offers Bachelor's and Master's degrees.


  • Gottfried Michael Koenig - The Electronic Works (1990) BV Haast
  • His Master's Noise (2001) BV Haast
  • Kees Tazelaar - Electronic compositions (2004) Near
  • Institute of Sonology: Early Electronic Music 1959-1969 (2009) Sub Rosa

Notable teachers and alumni


  1. ^ Institute of Sonology (2010), Retrieved 2011-02-06
  2. ^ Tempelaars, S. and Koenig, G. M. (1972), 'The computer at the institute of sonology, Utrecht', Journal of New Music Research, 1 (2): 167-174
  3. ^ Koenig, G. M. and Roads, C. (1978),'An Interview with Gottfried Michael Koenig,' Computer Music Journal, 2 (3): 11-15+29
  4. ^ Berg, P. Rowe, R. and Theriault, D. (1980), 'SSP and Sound Description,' Computer Music Journal, 4 (1): 25-35
  5. ^ Berg, P. (1979), 'PILE: A Language for Sound Synthesis,' Computer Music Journal, 3 (1): 30-41
  6. ^ Kaegi, W. (1978), 'VOSIM-A New Sound Synthesis System', Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, 26 (6):418-425
  7. ^ Truax, B. (1977), 'The POD System of Interactive Composition Programs,' Computer Music Journal, 1 (3): 30-39
  8. ^ Sani, N. and Bernardini, N. (1987), '1986 International Computer Music Conference, Den Haag: Review in Two Parts,' Perspectives of New Music, 25 (1/2): 618-637
  9. ^ Tazelaar, K. (2009), 'Special Section Introduction: The Institute of Sonology,' Leonardo Music Journal, 19: 69-70

External links

Clarence Barlow

Clarence Barlow (born 27 December 1945) is a composer of classical and electroacoustic works.

Computer music

Computer music is the application of computing technology in music composition, to help human composers create new music or to have computers independently create music, such as with algorithmic composition programs. It includes the theory and application of new and existing computer software technologies and basic aspects of music, such as sound synthesis, digital signal processing, sound design, sonic diffusion, acoustics, and psychoacoustics. The field of computer music can trace its roots back to the origins of electronic music, and the very first experiments and innovations with electronic instruments at the turn of the 20th century.

In the 2000s, with the widespread availability of relatively affordable home computers that have a fast processing speed, and the growth of home recording using digital audio recording systems ranging from GarageBand to Pro Tools, the term is sometimes used to describe music that has been created using digital technology.

Fred Momotenko

Alfred (Fred) Momotenko (born 7 August 1970) is a Russian-born Dutch-nationality composer.

Gottfried Michael Koenig

Gottfried Michael Koenig (born 5 October 1926 in Magdeburg) is a contemporary German-Dutch composer.

Hugi Gudmundsson

Hugi Gudmundsson (10 June 1977) is an Icelandic composer of contemporary classical music. His work is performed internationally at concerts and music festivals. He lives and works as a composer in Copenhagen, Denmark.

International Computer Music Conference

The International Computer Music Conference (ICMC) is a yearly international conference for computer music researchers and composers. It is the annual conference of the International Computer Music Association (ICMA).

Jan Boerman

Jan Boerman (born 30 June 1923) has been a composer working in electronic music studios since 1959. He was born in The Hague. The Delft Polytechnic in Utrecht, from which the Institute of Sonology was developed, housed the first electronic music studio in the Netherlands after the Philips laboratory in Eindhoven, which was not generally open to composers.

A select few composers were invited to work at Eindhoven, including Edgard Varèse (who created his Poème électronique there in 1958) but, by 1960, Philips decided to close the facilities. It passed its equipment on to the Delft Polytechnic, which became the primary site for electronic music in the Netherlands. Administrative problems, however, caused both Boerman and Dick Raaijmakers to leave Utrecht in 1963, whereupon they began setting up a private studio in the Hague. Their facility eventually became incorporated into the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and both men became members of the faculty. Years later, in 1986, the Institute of Sonology echoed their move by transferring from Utrecht to the Royal Conservatory in the Hague.

Boerman was trained in the traditional manner as a pianist and composer, and his initial exposure to the electronic music studio was both a shock and a revelation. There was relatively little "repertoire" in this new domain, so, while he had been struggling with serialism and "finding his voice", Boerman intuited that here was a vast new terrain to explore, free from the stylistic pressures (i.e., the triumvirate of Paris, Darmstadt, and Cologne) that were so powerfully felt at that time in Europe. Raaijmakers, on the other hand, had been studying broadcasting, recording, and applied electronics at Philips, so was more drawn into the world of studio composition.

Jean Piché

Jean Piché (born 1951 in Trois-Rivières, Québec) is a Canadian composer and video artist.

Piché studied electroacoustic and computer music at Simon Fraser University with Barry Truax and at the Institute of Sonology in the Netherlands. He has taught electroacoustic composition in the Faculty of Music at the University of Montreal since 1988. Since the early 1990s, Piché has focused on the creation of hybrid compositions involving abstract moving images which he calls "videomusic". As a software developer, Piché is the author of a Csound frontend called Cecilia, and the Tam Tam suite for the One Laptop Per Child project’s XO computer.

Though Piché has worked in multi-channel environments, his focus resides in "expanding" sound boundaries by using video. Piché's students are known to explore visual space (visual sound in space) through sound installations. These types of performance installations often consist of re-configurable walls, 3D, movable objects, and other structures. Frustrated by the "bounds" of the screen, Piché attempted to "multiply" screens to expand the "space" of the image. In doing so, Piché attempted to produce individual experiences in each extended screen.

John McGuire (composer)

John McGuire (born June 27, 1942 in Artesia, California) is an American composer, pianist, organist, and music editor.


Komboï (Greek: Κόμβοι, Knots) is a 1981 stochastic composition for amplified harpsichord and percussion by Greek composer Iannis Xenakis. It is one of the two compositions for harpsichord and percussion written by Xenakis, the other one being Oophaa.

Lárus Halldór Grímsson

Lárus Halldór Grímsson (born December 13, 1954) is an Icelandic composer and musician. He is known mostly for his electronic compositions with traditional instruments but he has been writing more non-electronic works since 1990. He has composed much of his music for theatre and television.

Lárus began studying the flute in the Skólahljómsveit Vesturbæjar children's wind band and music school in Western Reykjavík (now Skólahljómsveit Vesturbæjar og Miðbæjar) when he was ten. He attended the Reykjavík College of Music from 1972 to 1977. There he concentrated mostly on the flute, but also learned to play keyboards. He played on both instruments with several bands in the 1970s, the most famous being Eik, one of the first Icelandic bands to write all their own songs.In 1979 he began studies at the Institute of Sonology (Instituut voor Sonologie) in Utrecht, in the Netherlands. After finishing his studies there in 1984, he worked at the institute for some time.

Lárus' compositions include many works for theatre and television, including the play Næturgalann, which has been performed at most primary schools in Iceland, and films including Hringurinn (The Ring Road) and Skammdegi (Dark Season). He is the only composer working in Iceland who uses elements of jazz and pop idioms in a classical context.He has been director and conductor of the Skólahljómsveit Vesturbæjar og Miðbæjar since 1994, and conductor of the Reykjavik City Band (Lúðrasveit Reykjavíkur) since 1993, and has composed five major works for the latter. He also headed the Association of Icelandic Wind and Brass Bands (Samband Íslenskra lúðrasveita) for six years. He teaches flute, clarinet and saxophone at the Skólahljómsveit Vesturbæjar og Miðbæjar and the Seltjarnarnes School of Music.

Paul Berg (composer)

Paul Berg was a professor of music and specialist in algorithmic composition at the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. He is the author of the AC Toolbox.

Richard Barrett (composer)

Richard Barrett (born 7 November 1959) is a Welsh composer.

Rodney Sharman

Rodney Sharman (born May 24, 1958) is a Canadian composer and flutist based in Vancouver. His music has been performed in over 30 countries worldwide. He has won several international and national awards, including First Prize in the 1984 CBC Competition for Young Composers. His chamber opera, Elsewhereless, a collaboration with Atom Egoyan, premiered in 1998 and has been staged 35 times internationally.

Sergio Luque

Sergio Luque is a composer of vocal, instrumental and electroacoustic music. His work often involves computer-aided algorithmic composition and stochastic processes.

His music has been performed by the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Les Jeunes Solistes, Garth Knox, the Nieuw Ensemble and the Schönberg Ensemble, among others, and has been presented in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, the United States, Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, Japan and Australia.

He has a PhD in Musical Composition from the University of Birmingham, where he studied with Jonty Harrison and Scott Wilson, and was a member of BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre). During his PhD, he worked on the development of stochastic synthesis, a synthesis technique invented by Iannis Xenakis.

In 2006, he received a master's degree with Distinction in Sonology from the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, studying with Paul Berg and Kees Tazelaar. In 2004, he received a master's degree in Composition from the Conservatory of Rotterdam, studying with Klaas de Vries and René Uijlenhoet. He has a bachelor's degree in Composition from the Musical Studies and Research Centre (CIEM, Mexico).


Sonology is a neologism used to describe the study of sound in a variety of disciplines.

In medicine, the term is used in the field of [imaging] to describe the practice of medical ultrasonography. According to some scholars, sonology may represent a more advanced application of clinical sonography, chiefly due to the requirement for the use of critical application of both cognitive and radiographic skills in making the diagnostic determination at the time of bedside application of focused ultrasound.The term is also used to describe interdisciplinary research in the field of electronic music and computer music, drawing upon disciplines such as acoustics, electronics, informatics, composition and psychoacoustics. This sense of the term is widely associated with the Institute of Sonology, which was established by composer Gottfried Michael Koenig at the University of Utrecht in 1967 and later moved to the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in 1986. The term has also been adopted to describe the study of electronic music at other institutions, including the Center for Computational Sonology (now "Sound and Music Computing") at the University of Padua, Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo, at the Catalonia College of Music in Barcelona and the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil.

The term has been less commonly used to describe the use of sound for therapeutic and religious purposes.

Tera de Marez Oyens

Tera de Marez Oyens (5 August 1932 – 29 August 1996) was a Dutch composer.

De Marez Oyens was born in Velsen as Woltera Gerharda Wansink. She studied at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with a major in piano, studying the instrument with Jan Odé, and graduated in 1953 (Metzelaar n.d.). Here, her talent for composition was discovered as she wrote her first pieces. These included chamber music and song cycles. After that she came in contact with youth groups, for whom she also wrote individual pieces.

She then became the cantor of the Reformed church community of Hilversum. Because of this she was very busy with church music. She wrote 14 melodies for the church songbooks that appeared in 1973. The lyrics for these songs were supplied by, among others, Muus Jacobse, Willem Barnard and Ad den Besten, whom she knew personally.

In the 1960s she became interested in electronic music, and studied with Gottfried Michael Koenig at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht (Metzelaar n.d.). Sound and Silence (1971) and Mixed Feelings (1973) are pieces of electronic music she composed, and Pente Sjawoe is an example of a work in which the tone poem plays an important role.In 1978 she became an instructor at the conservatory in Zwolle, where she taught until 1988 (Metzelaar n.d.). Her lessons focused especially on the development of the student's own style. But she wanted to continue to write her own pieces and after the death of her second husband she became a full-time composer. At that time she wrote The Odyssey of Mr. Good-Evil (1981). In 1988 she contributed pieces to the international cello competition in Scheveningen, and in 1989 she was composer in residence at the Georgia State University in Atlanta.

She wrote over 200 works of music, many commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Culture and various broadcasting networks. In 1995 she was asked to write a piece (Unison) for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations (Metzelaar n.d.).

She had been married to Gerrit de Marez Oyens and Menachem Arnoni. Despite the fact that she had become seriously ill, in 1996 Tera de Marez Oyens married the renowned cartoonist Marten Toonder. She died on 29 August of that year in Hilversum (Metzelaar n.d.).

Walter Zimmermann

Walter Zimmermann (born Schwabach, Germany, April 15, 1949) is a German composer associated with the Cologne School.

Zimmermann studied composition in Germany with Werner Heider and Mauricio Kagel, the theory of musical intelligence at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht (now located in The Hague), and computer music at Colgate University in New York.

Zimmermann's works are infused by a personal adaptation of minimal technique. Whereas many early American minimalist composers were influenced in their works by rock, jazz, and world musics, Zimmermann has drawn a great deal of inspiration from his Franconian heritage. A number of his works, particularly his groups of pieces known as Lokale Musik, use the traditional music of this area as source material. These works frequently begin with melodic material derived from Franconian folk songs, which are rearranged and transformed in novel ways.

In 1976, Zimmermann published a collection of interviews with American musicians and composers entitled Desert Plants: Conversations With 23 American Musicians.

Werner Kaegi (composer)

Werner Kaegi (born June 17, 1926) is a Swiss electronic music composer, musicologist and educator. During the 1960s, he promoted electronic music in his home country. In the 1970s, as a composer and researcher at Utrecht's Institute of Sonology, The Netherlands, he developed pioneering programs in the field of computer-generated music.

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