The development of Electronic Music at the Folkwang University

At the end of the 60s Live-Electronics was the buzzword in electronic music.  Manageable equipment such as the synthesizer VCS III from the British company EMS could be used in numerous ways which included being played live with mechanical instruments.  In 1970 an order for three pieces of equipment for live-electronic music was given to the Berlin company Hofschneider.  This equipment was especially conceived for the “alienation” of instrumental sound.

An ensemble from which the Gruppe MHz (Direction: Günther Becker) emerged worked with this equipment which consisted exclusively of Folkwang Hochschule members from 1971.  The members of the ensemble were: Alfred Alings, Günther Becker, Ferdi Brendgen, Mirko Dorner, Pierre W. Feit and Dirk Reith.  In subsequent years the ensemble changed a few times until it disbanded as a fixed live-electronic ensemble in 1973/74.

Alongside live-electronic work on the stage it was very quickly clear that certain live-electronic projects had to be prepared and researched in an appropriately equipped studio.  Thus the studio, which had been very sparingly equipped, was replaced by a newly constructed analogue facility ("Synlab" from Hofschneider) between 1975 and 1978, which was developed in conjunction with Hofschneider.  The high degree of precision of this voltage controlled system even made direct control of the analogue appliances possible using a digital processor with an appropriate interface.  In the beginning a "Tektronix 4051" mini-computer was utilised for the so-called hybrid sound synthesis which thus became possible.  In subsequent years this was replaced by an "Apple II Plus" and an "APS 64/40" from the Essen company micro control.  Special programs were developed for the realisation of electronic compositions in the hybrid environment (sound synthesis with analogue appliances, controlled by digital processors).

In 1990 the Senate of the Folkwang Hochschule founded a cross department institute: in addition to the electronic studio, the ICEM (Institute for Computer music and Electronic Media) also encompassed further specialist departments for audio technology.  The Artistic Director of the ICEM is Professor Dirk Reith; technical direction is the responsibility of Dipl.-Ing. Roland  Masslich.  The service technician and director in the electronic studios is Ralf Galberg.  Martin Preu is responsible for acoustic technology and sound direction at concerts with electronic media.  Alongside educating composers the ICEM supports all projects at the Hochschule in which media are utilised to a wide extent (see Studios & Equipment).

With the establishment of the Jazz diploma course of studies a special studio custom-made for the requirements of jazz music was set up under the direction of the ICEM – the Project¬-Studio for Jazz studies.  A studio was set up for visual media between 1996 and 1999 under the auspices of the working group "Multimedia & Art NRW" of the MSWWF (Ministry for Town Development, Science, Further Education and Research).  This media studio was expanded from 1999 to 2002 as part of the MSWWF research project "Interactive Media Stage"; this created the Audio/Video Media Studio.  In 2000 the newest ICEM facility, the Sound Recording Studio, was inaugurated.  Studio direction is the responsibility of the qualified sound and images engineer Arthur Jogerst.  Alongside the standard equipment for such a studio it has also been equipped with a modern sound system with Dolby Surround (6.1) technology.  Furthermore, it has also been provided with a projector system for video post-production.

In 2001 electronic music at the Folkwang-Hochschule celebrated its 30th birthday.  To mark the occasion the ICEM published the issues Volume 4 to 6, “The Anniversary Issue” as part of its CD series "ex machina".  Three CDs with productions from the ICEM over three decades present a comprehensive sound picture of the electronic creativity at the ICEM (see ICEM¬-Discography).

After over thirty years of educating composers in electronic music we are working on a new composition course of studies.  In future it will be possible to follow a course of studies in "Integrative Composition" concluding with a Bachelor or Master qualification.  “Integrative composition” encompasses the following main subjects: instrumental composition, electronic composition, jazz composition and visualisation and pop composition.
Educating composers at the ICEM in the environment of the Hochschule as a whole, with its courses in music, theatre and dance, makes it possible for students to experience a comprehensive education with numerous possibilities to participate in inter-disciplinary projects (see Composition course of studies).