STEIM (STudio for Electro Instrumental Music) is a center for research and development of new musical instruments in the electronic performing arts, located in Amsterdam. Electronic music in STEIM’s context is always strongly related to the physical and direct actions of a musician. In this tradition, STEIM supports artists in residence such as composers and performers, but also multimedia and video artists to develop setups which allow for improvisation and performance with individually designed technology. STEIM was founded in 1969 by a s group of Dutch composers seeking the reformation of Amsterdam’s feudal music structures; they enforced the first public fundings for experimental and improvised electronic music in Holland. Its premises include three studios, a concert hall, hardware and software workshops, offices, and a guesthouse for artists in residence.

For most of STEIM’s instrumental developments ‘Touch is crucial in communicating with the new electronic performance art technologies.’ As with traditional musical instruments, the physical touch of a musician contains essential aesthetic factors. These qualities tend to get lost in the non-realtime use of studio technology, in which the process of music production is distant and abstract. The Touch philosophy — which can be considered as STEIM’s interpretation of the widely used term interactivity — theoretically subsumes several stages of STEIM’s developments, from the analog touchable ‘Crackle’ surfaces in the 70s to today’s experimental Gestural MIDI Interfaces.

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