Joel Ryan

Longer Biography and CV


Born 1945 Danbury Connecticut. I pursued a scientific education studying physics as an undergraduate and as a graduate at the University of California San Diego. The social turbulence of the late 60’s lead to a reevaluation and change of academic directions first to philosophy where I pursued a PhD in Aesthetics and History of Science under among othera Herbert Marcuse. My link to science continued through my work at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography as assistant to Henry Menard, Head of the US Geologic Survey, researching the history of  marine geology and the dynamics of “Big Science”. My love of music and the arts had been separated from academic life to that point, but at UCSD my office was a few feet from the newly created Music and Art Departments. At that moment there was a vibrant crew of which included among others John Baldesari, Mannie Farber, David Anton and a music grad student, Jeff Raskin [who was later to be the designer of the Apple Macintosh].  This quickly led to a job programming the campus film program which allowed me to book and enjoy all the great “art” films of the 60s. Looking back the most important influence was however Pauline Oliveros who as head of Music was bringing to La Jolla great originals like John Cage and David Tudor, and Harry Partch who built his last great orchestra of  microtonal instruments. She also provided a vivid contemporary model of her own mounting large scale works that I found both musically captivating and liberating in their inclusive collaborative relation to improvization. This crystalized my decision to seriously follow my own music. I moved to Northern California during the last years of the Vietnam War taking a job in environmental physics at the Lawrence Berkeley Labs and spending my nights at the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College in Oakland where I managed to convince Robert Ashley and David Behrman to let me join their new graduate program.

60’s Music Prehistory Though I had a variety of interests ranging from physics to critical studies I had always been immersed in music. I studied classical guitar with Hollywood composer Jose Barroso, and played a wide range of contemporary music as DJ on our college FM radio station. As a listener I think I was lucky to arrive in California at a perfect musical moment. I arrived a 17-year-old “serious” music snob from the East Coast, yet within a few years I had heard unforgettable performances by Thelonious Monk, Charlie Mingus, Roland Kirk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and a dozen more jazz heroes. I was studying North Indian music at Ravi Shankar’s school on Melrose Boulevard in Hollywood and going to concerts truly great performers like M. S. Subbulakshmi,Bismillah Khan,  Bhimsen Joshi, Ali Akbar Khan, Vilayat Khan the dancer Balasaraswati and the glorious Ali Brothers. John Cage's book Silence came out in paper back from MIT in 1966, the year I graduated from college. I was reading it that summer while attending the Shankar school while paying for it with a full time job doing materials research on carbon fiber for an Aerospace company, Garret Air.  With Cages permission, I was conscious that I was in the process of re-balancing my musical universe to include all of the living music was hearing including Jimmy Hendrix and electronic.  The solution however broke for me forever the spell of euro-centric academicism.

By the 1970's, after finishing with graduate school, I was fabricating a personal idea of electronic music based on what i could find on vinyl and ended up in Berkeley. I found a world of people in the San Francisco bay area with a similar surplus of scientific curiosity and practical energy. There were atomic scientists, left radicals, chaos mathematicians,, home-brew computer makers, ex-con phone hackers turned software entrepreneurs, and performance artists like the Cocketts. We had the permission of the times to invest our energy in the pursuit of the new.

Waking Up Electronic. … I discovered rather late that electronic music was the solution to a deeply felt problem of not being really a native of the music I loved. India Classical and Jazz (and perhaps even euro-modernism) all required more than rehearsals it required an aesthetic that seemed.  The electronic vernacular was a place where my skills and education and all my loves could find a home and one that had no history or social context that made me feel an outsider.

Musical Performances

Concertgebouw, Het Music Theater, Stadschouwberg, Het Muzikgebau, BimHuis, Paradiso, OT301, Felix Meritus/Shaffy Theater, de Waag, Frascatti, de Balie, Milkweg Amsterdam; Lanteren/Venster, Worm, V2 Rotterdam; Lucent Dance Theater, Theater an Het Spui, Korzo Theater, The Hague; Pyramid Tilberg; Theater De Kikker, Utrecht, Philharmonie Harlem, Grand Theatre, Groningen, Schouwberg Enschede, Twente U, Zaantheater Zaandam, Eindhoven, U Lewarden ;

Theater Chatelet, La Villette, Ircam/Pompedeu Center, Instants Chavire, Radio France, Paris; Aix en Provence, Bourges Festival, Avignon, Renne, Metz, Mullhouse, Lourdes;

The Round House, LSO St Luke’s, Sadlers Wells, Café Oto, Alameda Festival, London. Royal Shakespeare Theater Stratford, Plymouth & Newcastle, RSC Barbican, (Roberto Zucco, 60 performances)

Montreal and Victoriaville (V. Festival) Canada.

San Francisco, Mills College Oakland. La Jolla, Santa Cruz, Monterey. California

Kumho Art Hall, Seoul Korea

Bunka Kai Kan, Pit Inn, TokyoYokahama, Kobe, U Kyushu, Utsunomia, Sendai, Iwaki.

Eidos 1998 BAM, The Kitchen, Engine Company, Experimental Intermedia Foundation, Roulette, New York City;

El Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Palacio des Belles Artes Madrid; Music Submergides Barcelona; Seville Biennale; Valencia, Gulbenkian Lisbon, Porto,

Städtische Buhnen Frankfurt; Volksbuhne and Akademy der Kunst, Hebel Theater, VUB and Podewil Berlin; Moers Festival; Darmstädter Ferienkurse, Hellerau Dresden; Stadtgarten, Japan Institute Köln; Munster, Siemens Regensburg;  etc.

Basel, Kornhaus Bern, Conservatory Zurich;

Staatsoper, Dance Quartier, Porgy & Bess  University of Music, Wein; U.Graz, Budapest Nat.Museum,

Brussels, Ghent, Liege, Leuven, Hasselt, Kortrijk.

Angelical Festival Bologna, Turino, Regio, Macerata, Vincinza


-Early education Connecticut USA graduated North Haven H.S. 1962

-BA Physics Pomona College 1966

-SDSU & U.California San Diego Acoustics/Applied Electro Physics/Oceanography/ 1966-68

-UCSD 1968-72 (Philosophy. PhD ABT),

-Mills College Center for Contemporary Music Oakland California MFA 1979.

-Stanford University CCRMA, DSP seminars of Andy Moorer and CCRMA1976; summer course at given by John Chowning, John Grey and Andy Moorer 1977

-Docent Institute of Sonology, Royal Conservatory, The Hague 1986 to present

-Director MA Instruments and Interfaces STEIM/Royal ConservatoryThe Hague/Sonology 2011 to present

Work History

-Emeritus Director of STEIM 2012 to present

-Research Director STEIM Studio Amsterdam 1986-92.

-STEIM Artistic co-director 1993-2008

-Docent Sonology, The Royal Conservatory The Hague 1986 to Present

-Frankfurt Ballet Company since 1993;  performed and designed electronic music instruments for   Eidos/Telos.

-Instrument and interface design for STEIM collaborators Jon Rose, Laetitia Sonami, Steina Vasulka, et al.

-Directed STEIM research and development conversion to digital media. 1986-92

-Designed IMF Software for sound spatialization for Yamaha DMP11.

-Cellular Automata Installation Lina Gemente Museum den Haag, ZKM Ground Breaking, Driven Fairlight Video Processor 1989 with stagier Ray Edgar.

-Research on interactive composition system for George Lewis' The Empty Chair.

-Multi-channel interactive sound installation in Metro Station Montparnasse, Paris 1984/85.

-Researcher at IRCAM Paris; assistant to Max Newhouse; 1984/85.

-Porting FORTH Language +  music system for Yamaha MSX Computer. 1984/85.

-Researcher Atari/Warner Communications (Manhattan Labs) computer audio workstation1983/84

-Researcher Energy and the Environment Department, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Berkeley California 1978-82

-Design of instrumentation and data acquisition system for a mobile architectural energy analysis laboratory. RT-11, Fortran PDP-11

-1976 started work as instrument builder, programer and performer of electronic music.

-Instructor National Science Foundation Astronomy Session Thatcher School, Ojai California 1972-76.

-Teacher Mathematics, Physics and Philosophy, York School Monterey California 1972-75.

-Research associate 1969-71 at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography

-Garret Air ResearchR&D Carbon Fiber 1966

-Intern LA County Marshalw 1964-65

Research Themes

-Research associate 1969-71 at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography for Henry J. Menard, head of the US Geological Survey,  I compiled a complete citation index to the literature of marine geology starting from the voyages of Capt. Cook; analysis of the networks and growth of the emerging science of marine geology. This was to become a basic research component for Menard's book on big science Science: Growth and Change.

In 1976 I began to work independently the cyber underground building and playing a modular analog synthesizer (ARIES Inc.) and a analog/digital sequencer (Dave Smith Sequential Circuts). Encouraged by Pauline Oliveros at UCSD I sought musical and technological links with the denizens of the emerging Silicon Valley. I met and found a technically gold mine in Dave Smith who was in the process of starting Sequential Circuits (now Korg), I studied with John Chowning and Andy Moorer at Stanford University. 1976-77

-Research Associate Energy and the Environment Department, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, Berkeley California

-Design of instrumentation and data acquisition system for a mobile architectural energy analysis laboratory. RT-11, Fortran PDP-11 1978-82

-Researcher Atari/Warner Communications (Manhattan Labs),  Co-Designer one of the earliest digital audio work stations, (hardware+driver prototype: Heurikon Motorola68000 + Hitachi 4 chan. DMA, UNIX) 1983/84

-Researcher at Ircam Paris. Scientific assistant to Max Newhouse; -Multi-channel interactive sound installation in Metro Station Montparnasse, Paris 1984/85. -porting of FORTH  music language system to Yamaha MSX computer. 1984/85. -Design of interactive music composition software

-Promotion in Europe since 1985 of the concept of real time electronic music, i.e. the systematic creation of a performance practice for digital and electronic music.

 -Linear Predictive Coding for Pattern Recognition (using LPC hardware developed acoustic texture recognizing platform)

State machines for interaction design

Interaction Design: Adapting sensor technology to give a physical body to software instruments.

-Accelerometer data processing instrument for Stroomgeist a Jerry Hunt Memorial 1994

-Collaboration with Steina Vasulka and her automated video disk player pieces 1996-99

-The application of physical modeling to interface design. Promoted the idea of incorporating physics simulations into the behavior of virtual interfaces.

-T-garden project 2001- ; Interactive Dance Theater with Chris Salter, Sha Xin Wei, Maja Kuzmanovic sponsored by Rockefeller Foundation; SigGraph, Banff Canada, V2 Rotterdam, Ars Electronica Linz,

-Garret Air Research 1966 R&D dept. early work in carbon fibers as construction material. Experiments to determine the strength of various carbon fibers using acoustic methods. Experiments in electrical crystallization methods for carbon fiber. (Garret was responsible for Mercury capsule and other space and rocket environment fabrication)

-undergraduate thesis at Pomona was on underwater sound, specifically the refraction and diffusion of sound by micro bubbles of various gases. As a graduate I worked on optics, acoustics and antenna theory and logic design in the Department Of Applied Physics UCSD and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography La Jolla.


Digital Signal Processing has been one of the main threads of my research work. I realized from early contact with research at Stanford, that the possibilities of achieving rich sound via synthesis were extremely limited even with the larger computers available in university studios. This led me to pursue strategies that employed recordings of real sound as a raw material. This was not so much about sampling (in fact digital sampling had not yet become a technical possibility) as about what could be described as excitation sources for physical models or resynthesis. But these name particular approaches that are more rigorous than the methods I adopted for my musical purposes.

-Starting in 1979 with an integer Apple II+ equipped with an 8 channel A/D card plus a 16 channel dual ported DMA Synthesizer + D/A card from Mountain Computing The system was programmed in Cptn. Crunch FORTH

-Starting in 1989 adapted Motorola 56000 based Sound Accelerator boards from Digi-Design for use as Real-Time algorithmic DSP processors.

-DSP programming in SuperCollider since 1996

-Low Level Drivers And Schedulers.

With the introduction of the 16 bit Apple Macintosh in 1984 a really big step for real-time digital music. Starting in the spring of 1985 when I arrived at STEIM with George Lewis, we developed midi applications for the Mac in Forth. I wrote several 68000 assembly language drivers and event schedulers to support midi communication with the equally new Yamaha DX generation of synthesizers.

Workshops/Invited Talks

CCA Glasgow Scotland,

El Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía Madrid Spain,

Newcastle, Greenwich, Norwich, Glassgow  University UK.

Music Visualization at ZKM, Karlsruhe Germany. 2003, (Applications of the geometric modeling techniques of scientific visualization to problems in musical representation and computer music research.

T-Garden Banff Canada. 

IRCAM Paris,

ZKM Karlsruhe,

V2 Rotterdam

Sonic Acts Amsterdam

Avignon Festival.

U of Amsterdam, TU Berlin, VU Brussels, Orpheus Institute Ghent, University of Music Vienna,  University California San Diego, UC Davis, TU Eindhoven, Mills College Oakland California, University of Glasgow Scotland, Ecole Superieure d’Art Aix-En-Provence, T.A.R.T U. Enschede

AES Amsterdam 1987

Radio Budapest, Radio Prag, WDR Frankfurt, VPRO Hilversum


The Empty Chair with George Lewis

Duet with Malcolm Goldstein

Duet with Frances Marie Uitti

Duet with Evan Parker

Trio FM Uitti Evan Parker

Trio w/ Sparks: Peter Evans John Blancarte

Duo with Agusti Fernandes

Duo with Keir Neuringer

Duo with Minsuk Kwan

Duo with Sainkho Namtchalak (porgy and bess Vienna, Hanove poetry international, +2)

William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt: Eidos/Telos

Ballet Frankfurt: Sleepers Guts, as dramaturge: KammerKammer

Installation Tight Roaring Circle with Wm. Forsythe and Dana Casperson: a dance Comissioned by Art Angel at The Round House London. Remounted in the Bokenheimer Depot Frankfurt, Museum Quartier Vienna, Hamburg, Berlin.

Tea Garden (Foam Rockefeller Foundation; V2 Rotterdam, Ars Electronica, SigGraph, Banff) collaboration with Chris Salter Sha Xin Wei,

Japan Quartet, Evan Parker, Lawrence Casserly, Paul Lytton

Member Evan Parker’s EA Ensemble

Appleby Quartet

Duet with Joelle Leandre Victoriaville Festival Canada 2003

Quartet with Joelle Leandre 2002

Orleans Jazz, Jazz ą La Villette Paris Metz, Jazz ą Mulhouse, Lourde

Duo with Justin Bennett

Trio Jan Henry , Justin Bennett

Quartette Jan Henry, Justin Bennett, Jan de Jong


Or Air psi 04.08

Studio constructions based on the music of  Evan Parker


Evan Parker Electro Acoustic Ensemble


Evan Parker Electro Acoustic Ensemble

Live at Instants Chavires LEO RECORDS: LR255

Evan Parker, Noel Akchote, Lawrence Casserley

FREE ZONE Appleby psi 05.05

Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Philip Wachsmann, Paul Lytton 2004

For Flowers LEO RECORDS: LR396

Joelle Leandre, Mat Maneri, Christophe Marguet.

Musiques Submergides

Collection Barcelona, Nova Era  CD 2002

The Number Readers

Sub Surfing ORACD 11 1994

The Intermediary Lovely Music

Blue Gene Tyranny


Theory of Oja’s Rule

Ensemble piece for processed violin and percussion. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Zurich Music Conservatory, Korzo den Haag, V2 Rotterdam 1995.

Enfolded String Solo 1994     

For processed untensioned steel wire. Mures Jazz Festival Germany, STEIM 25th Festival The Balie Amsterdam,  V2 Rotterdam, Palacio de Bellas Artes Madrid, Music Submergides Barcelona, Greewich U., Newcastle U. Ghent Orpheus Institute, Greenwich University,  MIT,

Banlieu Bleu

With Evan Parker, JoĎlle Leandre, Richard Barrett  in George Lewis Band Paris 1994.

Tasty Dishes from Waste Items

Electro/Acoustic music for interactive digital signal processor and performer. Circulo des Bellas Artes Madrid, Musiques Submergides Barcelona, The Kitchen New York 1993.

Enfolded Strings

in Collaboration with Malcolm Goldstein. Live interactive signal processing of acoustic instruments for two performers: premier Rumore Festival Amsterdam 1991; Apollohouse 1992.


Live interactive signal processing of acoustic instruments for two performers:

premier New Music America New York 1989; STEIM, Amsterdam; De Unie, Rotterdam 1990.

The Number Readers (1988)

Live interactive signal processing, spatialization and graphics. Premier Shaffy Theater Amsterdam May ’88;  Darmstadt Summer Course July ’88;  Berlin Congress Hall Sept.’88; Concertgebau Amsterdam ’88, Invitation FISEA [First International Symposium on Electronic Arts] Utrecht Oct. ’88; Siemens MegaChip Regensburg '89

Production and Broadcast of  The Number Readers Hörspeel commissioned by VPRO/Bovenbau on "Hilversum 4" Feb. ‘89;

Ogol reconstructed (1987-88)

Live electronics. Alameda Festival London; Vrij Univ. Brussels Computer Music Festival; Festival of Modern Music, Japan Center Köln.

Lina (1986/88)

Music and Video Automaton installed at Gemente Museum den Haag, the Inauguration of ZKM Karlsruhe Vrij Univ AI Lab Brussels, TART-'87 ( Unv. Twente,) School of Higher Imformatica, and festivals in Amsterdam and Lewarden.

Ogotemmeli (1983-84)

Live digital electronics. The Kitchen, New York; 80 Langton St Gallery,  San Francisco;  Opening of de Waag Museum, Amsterdam. STEIM Festival The Icebreaker, Amsterdam.

Other Men's Flowers (1982)

Live electronics. ICMC Venice Biennale; version for 15 dancers with the Public Works Dance Company at The Oberlin Dance Collective San Francisco

The Intermediary (1981)

Piano and real time digital signal processor.  A collaboration with Blue "Gene" Tyrrany;  premier Jos. Papps Public Theater1981; recording: Lovely  Music 1982


Tape.  A composition for solo dancer performed at Oberlin Dance Collective in San Francisco

The Effect of Noise on the Sleep of Children (1979)

Live electronics and tape. Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College, Oakland California; SUNY, Buffalo; Pass, New York.

Thin Film Music (1978)

Live electronics and performers. A Noh Theater Piece with performed at Cabrillo College Santa Cruz California


Lina, Gemeente Museum Den Haag, ZKM Karlsruhe. Cellular automata driven music and video graphic. 1986.

Tight Roaring Circle, Bouncy Castle  with Wm. Forsythe, Dana Casperson :  Art Angel: The Round House London. Frankfurt,Vienna, Berlin Hamburg, Karlesruhe.

Tea Garden Banff, SigGRAPH, V2, Ars Electronica.