Joel Ryan: Music and Machines [Aesthetics]

Joel Ryan is a composer, inventor, and physicist. He is a pioneer in the design of musical instruments based on real-time digital signal processing. He currently works at STEIM in Amsterdam, tours with the Frankfurt Ballet, and is a Docent at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague.

Joel Ryan is a long-time SuperCollider user.

Starting from a scientific rather than a musical education, he moved into music by degrees from physics via philosophy, studying with Herbert Marcuse, and Albert Hofstadter, and instrumental study with among others Mexican film composer and guitarist Jose Barroso and Ravi Shankar. This was in California at a time when it was possible to regularly attend performances by Subbulakshmi and Jimmy Hendrix, John Cage and Harry Partch, Thelonius Monk and John Coltrane, experiences which released him forever from the spell of academic modernism. He enrolled at the infamous Mills College Center for Contemporary Music near San Francisco where, by way of composers Robert Ashley and David Behrman he joined the emerging community of artist hackers which helped define Silicon Valley. Ryan sought to bring concreteness to digital electronic media through the intelligent touch of the performer.

He has collaborated extensively with composers and artists such as Evan Parker, George Lewis, Bill Forsythe, FM Uitti, Steina Vasulka, Jerry Hunt, Michel Waisvisz, and ArtAngel. Formerly a Research Associate at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories of the University of California, he has taught philosophy, physics, and mathematics. Works include »The Number Readers«, »Enfolded Strings«, »Thin Film Music: a Piece for Noh Theater«, »Hat Moon Joy«, and »The Effect of Noise on the Sleep of Children«. Most recently he has collaborated with William Forsythe on »Tight Roaring Circle«, in London, as well as »Eidos/Telos« and »Sleepers Gut’s« for the Frankfurt Ballet.