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Conference, expert meeting, workshop & concert at the University of Amsterdam & Orgelpark ~ Synthetic speech is part of modern everyday life. Artificial voices not only occur in multifaceted technological uses, but they also feed back into researching the natural human voice.

Detail Summary
Start date 11 May 2016
End date 13 May 2016
Time 00:00

Moreover, artists, musicians and composers find a source of inspiration in the artificial sound of such voices. Our conference inquires both the richness of the human voice and the limits and surplus of its theoretical modelling and mechanical and digital imitation. We are specifically interested in modelling and synthesizing so-called "extended vocal techniques" - all sounds the human voice can produce, exceeding conventional singing and speaking. The conference will cover the history of the artificial voice, extended vocal techniques, aspects of theoretical modelling and technical realization, and the role of the artificial voice in contemporary music. Academics, scientists and artists will come together to exchange ideas and insights in three days of presentations, meetings, workshops and a concert. With a group of international experts we will place the artificial voice in a broad perspective of historical, technical, socio-cultural, artistic and musical investigation.

Scheduled are sessions on:

- History
- Mechanical voice synthesis
- Extending the voice
- Digital voice synthesis

Preliminary programme:

Artist Martin Riches will demonstrate his installation objects the Talking Machine and the Singing Machine.
These machines will perform in the concert in a new work by vocalist Ute Wassemann, who will also give a lecture-workshop the next day.

Dr. Fabian Brackhane will demonstrate his replica of the von Kempelen machine and give an overview of the history of voice synthesis. He will also talk about the relation of mechanical speech synthesis to organ technology.

Prof. dr. Julia Kursell will discuss the artificial voice in the history of acoustics and elaborate on Helmhotz's vowel synthesis.

Prof. dr. Bruno Bossis will talk about the models of the voice and the voice as model in electroacoustic music. 

Dr. Hannah Bosma discusses how various ways of modelling the voice implicate ideas on what the human voice is and how it functions. She poses the question of the possibility of alternative models.

Dr. Michael Edgerton will give a systematic overview of extended vocal techniques and analyse these as nonlinear phenomena.

Peter Pabon will discuss digital voice synthesis and how to model the "grain" of the voice.

Dr. Arthur Dirksen will discuss concatenative synthesis and why it sounds so much better than synthesis that is exclusively based on models of the voice.

Dr. Nicolas d'Alessandro will demonstrate his singing synthesis instruments, perform in the concert and talk about digital voice synthesis techniques. 

The booklet with abstracts is now availble for download from


  • Conference: 11 & 12 May, 9:00 - 17:00  at the University of Amsterdam and Orgelpark. Registration at There are no registration costs. Limited number of places available.
  • Concert: 11 May at Orgelpark. Tickets are available via
  • Academic expert meeting: 12 May at University of Amsterdam
  • Artistic expert meeting: 13 May at STEIM
  • Artistic-technical workshop: 13 May 10h00-13h00 at STEIM. Tickets via STEIM, max. 12 participants.


prof. dr. ir. Remko Scha (1945-2015), dr. Hannah Bosma, prof. dr. Julia Kursell.

With financial and practical support of:

University of Amsterdam: Computational Linguistics, Musicology, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis ASCA;
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences KNAW;
Orgelpark & Organ Studies Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

More information: