R.R. Riesz 1937Wheatstone's version of Von Kempelen's Machine

The Art of Voice Synthesis

symposium, expert meeting, workshop & concert

, Amsterdam

View all video recordings of the lectures, demonstrations and concert here.

Download the programme here.

Download the booklet with abstracts here.



 9:00	Registration (coffee/tea)
 9:15	Welcome – Julia Kursell
 9:30	Voice synthesis in perspective: introduction – Hannah Bosma 
10:00	The history of voice synthesis – Fabian Brackhane
10:45	coffee/tea
11:00 	The artificial voice as a scientific object – Julia Kursell
11:45	Models of the voice and the voice as model in electroacoustic music – Bruno Bossis
12:30 	lunch


14:15 	Vox Humana – Hans Fidom
14:30 	Speech synthesis and organ technology – Fabian Brackhane
15:00  	Kempelen's speaking machine: demonstration of a replica – Fabian Brackhane
15:30	Research by practical mechanics of the mouth – Jaap Blonk

15:45  	coffee/tea

16:00 	Martin Riches: demonstration of his Talking Machine, MotorMouth and Singing Machine 


20.15 Concert

* Ute Wassermann – Organ Pipe Chitter (new work), for voice, small organ pipes & bird whistles 
* Martin Riches – The Singing Machine with an extract from hitonokiesari – people vanish (2013) 
  by Masahiro Miwa & Sadakazu Fujii
* Ute Wassermann & Martin Riches – Pneuma (new work), for voice and Talking Machine 

Martin Riches – Hands-on demonstration of the Talking Machine with members of the audience

* Michael Edgerton – The Elements of Risk in Creation (2001), an electronic composition with optional voice 
* Nicolas d’ Alessandro – Lost in Layers (new work), for soprano and tenor HandSketch instruments
* Nicolas d’ Alessandro – Demonstration and explanation of his synthetic voice instruments
* Nicolas d’ Alessandro, Ute Wassermann, Michael Edgerton – Improvisation

Intermezzi: organ improvisations by Guus Janssen

We thank the Berlinische Galerie - museum for modern art, photography and architecture for lending Martin Riches's MotorMouth.


 9:00 	Registration (coffee/tea)

 9:15	Objectification of sound and sound source, modelling of emotions: singing with care,
 	vocalecture by Jannie Pranger
 9:30	Expanding the voice, lecture-workshop by Ute Wassermann 
10:15 	Controlled use of nonlinear phenomena in contemporary vocal music – Michael Edgerton

11:00 	coffee/tea

11:15  	Digital voice synthesis: how to model the grain of the voice – Peter Pabon 

12:00   lunch

13.15 	Concatenative speech synthesis: Playing the imitation game – Arthur Dirksen 
14.15 	Get objects to talk and sing: Creating and controlling artificial voice – Nicolas d’Alessandro 

15:00	drinks

Belle van Zuylenzaal

15:30	academic expert meeting 
	(on invitation only)


10:00 – 13:00 	Workshop Nicolas d’Alessandro: Creating and controlling synthetic voices
		(€25, registration required via tijs[at]steim[dot]nl – max. 12 participants)

14:00 – 17:00 	Artistic expert meeting 
		(on invitation only, max. 12 participants)


Doelenzaal, University Library, Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam

Belle van Zuylenzaal, University Library, Singel 425, 1012 WP Amsterdam

Orgelpark, Gerard Brandtstraat 26, 1054 JK Amsterdam

STEIM, Achtergracht 19, 1017 WL Amsterdam

Dr. Fabian Brackhane is a German phonetician and musicologist. By his interests in organs and organ building in particular, he got in contact with the work of the polymath Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734-1804). Through this, since many years his research work is mostly dedicated to the history of speech synthesis. He built several replicas of von Kempelen's speaking machine and is co-editor of a modern, German-English edition of von Kempelen's book Mechanismus der menschlichen Sprache (published in 2016).

Prof. dr. Bruno Bossis is professor in musicology, analysis and computer music, and permanent researcher at the University of Rennes 2, in the music laboratory (Team: Arts : Pratiques et poétiques, EA 3208). He is director of the master Arts (including masters in Musicology, Movie studies, Theater study, Arts history and Visual arts), co-director of the master Arts and Digital Technologies. Author of the book La voix et la machine, la vocalité artificielle dans la musique contemporaine and of numerous papers on electroacoustic music, editor of several books on contemporary music, he is currently writing a book on Jonathan Harvey.

Martin Riches was born on the Isle of Wight in 1942. He is best known as a sound artist.
Four speaking machine projects:
Talking Machine (1989-1991): A computer-controlled wind-blown organ with 32 phoneme pipes inspired by Chiba and Kajiyama resonators (1942) and X-ray data by Gunnar Fant (1960). Current vocabulary: about 350 words.
MotorMouth (1994-1999): A mechanised vocal tract with a blower, 8 computer-controlled stepping motors driving the lips, teeth, tongue, tip-of-the-tongue, air-supply, glottis and pitch. It can count to 10 in English and German and speak a few simple sentences: How are you? I love you? etc.
Singing Machine (2010-2013): A tubular vowels-only vocal tract with moving tongue and lips and a range of one octave. Among other works: the poem hitonkiesari (in the synthetic singing language, Giyakku) by Sadakazu Fujii, set to music by Masahiro Miwa and accompanied by 9 musicians of the Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin.
Four Voices (2015 - work-in-progress): Soprano, alto, tenor, bass similar in concept to the baritone Singing Machine (above).
For these and a variety of other projects see: martinriches.de

Ute Wassermann is known as a vocal soloist and composer/performer for her extraordinary, many-voiced and extreme vocal sound-language, which she has brought into contemporary music in diverse ways. She has developed vocal techniwues in which the voice goes beyond itself into a much les indentifiable vocal space. She defamiliarizes the sound of her voice using birdcall-whistles, palate whistles, speaker objects or field recordings.
Ute Wassermann performs her own works on international festivals and collaborates with internationally known improvising musicians, composers, dancers, visual artists. She is an integral part of the experimental music scenes and performs regularily with many musicians in different groups like "Speak Easy" (with Phil Minton, Thomas Lehn and Martin Blume), with Aleks Kolkowski (Stroh instruments and musical saw), Birgit Ulher (trumpet), as well as in larger formations such as fORCH or ECIO and is a member of the Berlin-based composer/performer ensemble "Les Femmes Savantes".
She has given premieres of numerous works & music theatre pieces composed specially for her voice, for example by Richard Barrett, Chaya Czernowin, Henning Christiansen, Hans-Joachim Hespos, Matthias Kaul, Michael Maierhof, Michael Finnissy, Ana Maria Rodriguez, Gerhard Stäbler, Pia Palme with the ASKO Ensemble, Elision, Munich Chamber Orchestra, KNM Berlin, L’ART POUR L’ART.

Dr. Michael Edward Edgerton is currently Associate Professor at the Guangxi Arts University. Michael is a composer whose work elides the boundaries of complexity with practical applications of physical and perceptual models. Since the mid-90’s he has been pioneering work with Multidimensionality and Nonlinear Phenomenon applied to sound production and composition.
His work has been recorded on Modern Choral Masterpieces (441 Hz Chamber Choir, Dux Records, 2015); raven, le corbeau (Escargot ma non troppo: Paris, 2012); Alles – Außer – gewöhnlich (Auditivvokal Dresden, MusikForum Dresden 2012); ELECTRONIC VOICES (Galerie SPHN, Berlin, 2001); and has been documented in a film by Lena Giovanazzi titled, Stimmig – 10 Vokalexkursionen (Mainz: University of Applied Sciences Mainz, 2012).
Michael is engaged with research into voice, acoustics and perception. This work has been supported by numerous grants, including a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the National Center for Voice and Speech. The results have been published in diverse scholarly journals, as well as book chapters in Perspectives on Teaching Singing: a celebration of Vocal Pedagogy in the 21 Century (ed. Scott Harrison and Jessica O’Bryan; Springer Publishing), and The Oxford Handbook of Singing (ed. John Nix; Oxford University Press).
Edgerton has two books available: The 21st Century Voice (New Instrumentation Series, Rowman & Littlefield, 2nd ed. 2015) and Music within the Continuum (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2015).
More information: https://michaeledwardedgerton.wordpress.com.

Peter Pabon studied biochemistry, signal processing and sonology at Utrecht University. His professional career started in 1983 as a part-time researcher on a project called Objective Recording of Voice Quality with Professor Plomp at VU University in Amsterdam, and he worked at Utrecht University as a teacher/researcher on (singing) voice analysis and speech and music acoustics from 1983 until 2011. He initiated a project for singing voice synthesis and analysis at the Royal Conservatoire that later resulted in a cooperative project with the singing department to monitor voice change as an effect of voice training. In 2002, he founded Voice Quality Systems, a company in which he develops the voice quality recording system Voice Profiler, which is nowadays still in use at many clinical centres, conservatories and schools for professional voice training. Peter Pabon is currently writing a PhD thesis at KTH Stockholm, which has generated several papers and presentations on Voice Range Profile (VRP) recording methodology and the effects of voice training. A final paper will deal with a description of spectrum change over the VRP.

Dr. Arthur Dirksen studied Dutch Language and Literature at Utrecht University. After his PhD he became involved in speech synthesis research. In 1996 he founded Fluency, a small company, now based in Amsterdam, that develops text-to-speech software for Dutch and Frisian.

Dr. Nicolas d’Alessandro obtained his PhD in Applied Sciences from the University of Mons in 2009. From a lifelong interest in musical instruments and his acquired taste in speech and singing processing, he will incrementally shape a research topic that aims at using gestural control of sound in order to gain insights in speech and singing production. Late 2009, he moves to Canada, to take a postdoc position with Prof. Sidney Fels at the MAGIC Lab, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, where he will work on the DiVA project. Since early 2015, he has left academia and founded Hovertone, a startup standing at the crossing between arts and technology.

Fabian Brackhane promoveerde in 2015 magna cum laude met een proefschrift over mechanische spraaksynthese en de relatie met orgeltechnology (vox humana). In 2009 construeerde hij een nauwkeurige replica van de 18e-eeuwse mechanische spraakmachine van Wolfgang von Kempelen en schreef hierover zijn master-scriptie als afronding van zijn studie in fonetiek, muziekwetenschap en informatica. Naar aanleiding van succesvolle presentaties van deze replica werd hij gevraagd om nog twee exemplaren te bouwen voor het Nixdorf MuseumsForum (Paderborn, Duitsland) en de Technische Universiteit in Dresden (Duitsland). Hij is co-auteur van een nieuwe editie (met commentaar en Engelse vertaling) van Von Kempelen's Mechanismus der menschlichen Sprache (1791). Sinds 2009 is hij verbonden aan het Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS) in Mannheim, Duitsland.

Michael Edgerton is componist en onderzoeker op het grensvlak van akoestiek en muziek. Hij publiceerde een uniek, encyclopedisch overzicht van de extended vocal techniques die ontwikkeld zijn in de 20e-eeuwse Westerse avant-garde-muziek en van verwante zangtechnieken in niet-Westerse culturen (zoals verschillende soorten boventoonzang, vocal fry en allerlei grom-, schreeuw- en fluittechnieken), dat onlangs in een tweede, herziene druk verscheen. Hij deed bovendien onderzoek naar de akoestische en fysieke mechanismen van dergelijke stemklanken (Jürgen Neubauer, Michael Edgerton, Hanspeter Herzel. 2004. 'Nonlinear Phenomena in Contemporary Vocal Music', Journal of Voice, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 1-12). Sinds 2015 is hij associate professor aan Guangxi Arts University, Nanning, Guangxi, China. Van 2011 tot 2014 was hij associate professor aan de University of Malaya, Department of Music.

Nicolas d'Alessandro promoveerde in 2009 aan de Universiteit van Mons (België) op een proefschrift getiteld Realtime and Accurate Musical Control of Expression in Voice Synthesis. Daarna ontving hij financiering voor de ontwikkeling van zijn elektronische muziekinsturment de HandSketch, een tablet waarmee op muzikaal-expressieve wijze kunstmatige zangstem kan worden aangestuurd. Als postdoc onderzoeker aan het Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC ) van de University of British Columbia ( UBC ) in Vancouver, BC (2009-2011), coördineerde hij het DiVA ( Digitally Ventriloquized Actor ) onderzoeksproject, gericht op het ontwikkelen van nieuwe real-time interfaces voor een expressieve aansturing van kunstmatige spraak en zang. Sinds 2012 was hij verbonden aan het Numediart Institute for Creative Technologies, Universiteit van Mons, als o.a. hoofd van de Performative Media group en het UMONS Digital Orchestra. Hij coördineerde onderzoek naar de ontwikkeling van nieuwe muzikale interfaces en performatieve spraak/zangsynthese en ontwikkelt de HandSketch, MAGE en de MotionMachine. In 2015 richtte hij het start-up bedrijf Hovertone op, als spin-off van de Universiteit van Mons, gericht op de HandSketch en andere technologische platforms ontwikkeld in de Performative Media and Motion Capture groups van het Numediart Institute. Nicolas d'Alessandro treedt op als musicus met zijn elektronische instrumenten.

Nicolas d'Alessandro on soprano HandSketch
Nicolas d'Alessandro on soprano HandSketch

In memoriam Remko Scha

The Art of Voice Synthesis is an initiative of Remko Scha, artist and professor emeritus in computational linguistics at the University of Amsterdam.

Remko Scha passed away on 9 November 2015.

We organize this conference in sad and thankful remembrance of his enthusiasm, generosity, keen interest and inspiring ideas.

Obituary Remko Scha (1945-2015)