The history of EMS/EMS historia
This text provides an overview of the history of EMS from the studio's beginnings until today. For a more in-depth history, see the book and music suggestions at the bottom of the page (se texten på svenska längre ner).
Symptomatic of the early days of electroacoustic music in Sweden is the difficulty in clearly delineating which organizations and actors have pushed the development forward from a cultural policy perspective. Therefore, both Fylkingen and Sveriges Radio gets a greater mention in the text.
The first electroacoustic concert presented in Sweden was arranged by the association Fylkingen in 1952 in Radiotjänst's premises at Karlaplan in Stockholm. The program included music by the real pioneers of concrete music, Pierre Schaffer and Pierre Henry, who were active in the French Radio’s studio INA-GRM. Over the following decade, Fylkingen continued to organize concerts with music composed both at INA-GRM and Westdeutscher Rundfunk's studio in Cologne. The association also arranged seminars/demonstrations around the new music form's underlying technical conditions and its various aesthetic expressions.
A group of experimental composers active in Swedish music life with strong ties to Fylkingen carried out effective, long-term lobbying to establish a studio for electronic music in Sweden. The tone-setter in this work was Knut Wiggen. Wiggen produced a first draft of the studio's design in the report Stockholmsstudion for electronic music written together with Norman Gleiss and Tage Westerlund. Elektronmusikstudion EMS was formed in 1964 as part of Sveriges Radio and Knut Wiggen became its first Studio director.
After five years, Sveriges Radio renounced its leadership of EMS and in 1969 EMS became a state-funded foundation. In 1970, the large computer studio at EMS operational. At this time, the studio was housed at Kungsgatan 8 in Sveriges Radio's old premises. The technology in the studio, with its hybrid design of digital computer-control and analog synthesis, was world-leading. This attracted composers from several countries, which in turn led to the studio's early establishment as an important international player. In addition to the large computer studio, there was also a smaller studio for analog sound processing, called the Klangverkstaden.
A group of composers active at EMS became in many ways pioneers both in Sweden and internationally. Lars-Gunnar Bodin, Bengt-Emil Jonsson, Åke Hodell and Sten Hanson often worked in the borderland between poetry and music – a mixed form that came to be known as text-sound composition. Among the composers who were active at EMS at this time were Tamas Ungvary, Miklos Maros, Ragnar Grippe, Catherine Christer Hennix, Sonja Åkesson and Rolf Enström.
The work environment at EMS in the mid-1970s was turbulent, and Knut Wiggen resigned as Studio director at the end of 1975. He was succeeded by Jon Appleton for a six-month period, after which Lars-Gunnar Bodin took over, first as interim director and then as permanent Studio director from 1979.
In connection with Wiggen's departure, an investigation into electronic music in Sweden was carried out, where the composers' conditions and the infrastructure were examined. The investigation resulted in a proposal where EMS should be transformed into an educational institution under the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. The proposal triggered a lively debate within the composers' guild, which resulted in EMS continuing to operate as an independent institution. With this fresh start, a technical upgrade of the studios took place with, at the time, modern studio technology.
Christian Rønn @ EMS 29 March - 2 April, 2023
Christian Rønn works with improvisation, electroacoustics,
fixed composition, soundart and film-music, performing and writing in a variety of combinations and constellations.
F.ex. with Ikue Mori, Peter Peter, Aram Shelton
and P.O. Jørgens.
Points of interest: unrecognizable states of being,
transcendence, journey beyond language.
His energetic and out-of-body-playing-style has
been likened to Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra.
As an organ-and piano-player, he creates solo- and
collaborative works for organ, piano and multi-channel
electronics as well as installation-works. Writes and
produces “Panser” with Peter Peter and the popular
electronica-act “Ganga” and has been scoring film-classics
as “Battleship Potemkin”, “Metropolis” and “Man with
a Move Camera”.
Passepartout Duo @ EMS 14 March - 2 April, 2023
Drawing from a carefully selected palette of electro-acoustic textures and shapeshifting rhythms, Passepartout Duo’s work investigates the way in which we listen to and connect with sound. Reassessing the tools they use to create their music, the group is continually developing a specialized and evolving ecosystem of handmade musical instruments that have ranged from analog electronic circuits and conventional percussion, to room-size textile installations and found objects.
Looking for ways of sustaining an independent musical career and shaping an international network of artists and musicians, the group has been on a nearly continuous world tour ever since they began collaborating in 2015, and their experiences traveling have heavily influenced their unconventional creative process.
Passepartout Duo is formed by pianist Nicoletta Favari (IT) and percussionist Christopher Salvito (US/IT).
Daniele Fabris @ EMS 13 March - 2 April, 2023
Daniele Fabris is a composer-researcher dealing with computer music, creative coding and spatial sound design. His works investigate themes and techniques related to digital sound processing, 3D audio and musical instrument design, combining creative and technical expertise to develop immersive audio experiences and discover new paths of human-computer interactions.
Photo by Dominika Milek
Chandra Shukla @ EMS 8-30 March, 2023
Chandra Shukla (born Vivek Chandra Shukla 1975 Alameda, California) is an experimental/avant-garde musician interested in audio, video, live performances, graphic design and runs the independent record label Erototox Decodings. His history stems from learning Indian Classical Music by learning tabla from the likes of Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and sitar from Pandit Habib Khan. At the age of 17, Chandra Shukla met Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and for the next 4 years would be involved with joining Psychic TV and h/er for their live performances sometimes in the Bay Area and other times abroad. In 1998, joining P-Orridge’s first incarnation of Thee Majesty on stage in Stockholm Sweden, with Bachir and Mustafa Attar of The Master Musicians of Jajouka playing eps samplers and his Indian classical music. Though offering his skills to other projects such as Scribble Seven (Steven Stapleton’s Nurse With Wound live project) and joining Hans-Joachim Roedelius on three tours, and more recently touring with This Wilderness (Joe Coleman, Phil Puleo and Robbie O) and die Angel (Ilpo Väisänen and Dirk Dresselhaus) and being part of an array of numerous side-projects and lending his skills as a contributor.
In 2021, Chandra Shukla along with friend Carl Michael von Hausswolff debuted their project ‘Travelogue’ (Touch. UK). Xambuca is his main electro-acoustic experimental project and one that has shared the stage with many guests including a rotating cast of characters with audio/visual elements both live and exhibited. Chandra Shukla once a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area and Brooklyn/New York City now resides in Asheville, NC.
Marja Ahti @ EMS in March, 2023
Marja Ahti (b. 1981, Luleå) is a Swedish-Finnish sound artist working in composition, installation and cross-disciplinary performance. Working with field recordings, feedback, analog synthesis, digital processing and acoustic instrumentation she investigates the borderland where sounds mirror each other and communicate.
Photo by Bradfor Bailey