The music pioneer, Hermann Heiss (1897-1966), started composing electro-acoustic music in 1952. He began by carrying out experiments at the WDR Electronic Music Studio in Cologne, where Herbert Eimert and Karlheinz Stockhausen worked, and subsequently spent many years grappling with twelve-tone music.
Hermann Heiss’s twelve-tone compositions, improvisation studies and tone movement theory, his pioneering work in the field of electro-acoustic music and, above all, his work as a teacher and lecturer during the famous »Darmstadt vacation courses« provided a stimulus for musicians and composers from all over the world.
In 1955 he headed the »Studio for Electronic Composition« at the Kranichsteiner Music Institute in Darmstadt before setting up the Hermann Heiss Darmstadt Studio for Electronic Composition, one of the first private electronic studios in Germany, in 1957 in a building adjoining the Municipal Academy of Musical Art. The studio houses equipment from the early days of electronic music, including one of the first tape recorders making it possible to mix different sound tracks produced one after the other – a technique developed by Heiss specifically for electronic composition purposes. Among the items Heiss made himself are the ring modulator, the reverberation spiral and two loudspeakers. He used an oscilloscope with a resonator for experiments designed to combine sounds and images.
The tapes produced in Heiss’s studio were digitised at the ZKM in 1996 for the International Digital Electro-Acoustic Music Archive (IDEAMA) and are accessible to visitors at the ZKM | Media Library.
The original items of equipment stored in the archives of the ZKM Media Library are being shown for the first time since 1996 at the exhibition in the ZKM Media Lounge. A simulator built especially for the exhibition enables visitors to hear for themselves the original sounds produced in the studio.