STEIM (the STudio for Electro-Instrumental Music) is an independent electronic music centre in Amsterdam unique in its dedication to live performance. The foundation’s artistic and technical departments support an international community of performers, musicians, and visual artists, to develop unique instruments for their work. STEIM maintains a residency program whereby artists are provided with an artistic and technical environment in which concepts can be given concrete form.
STEIM has formed ongoing partnerships locally with the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, the Conservatory of Amsterdam, TU/Eindhoven, and the Royal Conservatory in the Hague through the Instruments & Interfaces masters program.
STEIM started as a "modest initiative of a handful of Dutch composers. Out of a kind of political and cultural rebellion, a workgroup was established in the autumn of 1967 by a few of the Netherlands' most prominent and progressive composers: Peter Schat, Konrad Boehmer, Jan van Vlijmen, Misha Mengelberg, Louis Andriessen, Reinbert de Leeuw, and Dick Raaymakers. STEIM was created out of a dissatisfaction amongst composers and orchestral musicians with the fact that the products of the 'isolated' electronic music studio could only be heard in the concert hall via the static combination of magnetic tape and loudspeakers. What the group had in mind was an electro-instrumental musical practice based on real-time processes. STEIM was created as a research laboratory and development workplace for live electronic music.
The opera Reconstructie [Reconstruction] by Andriessen, Mengelberg, De Leeuw, Schat, and Van Vlijmen, together with the librettists Harry Mulisch and Hugo Claus, provided a minor revolution. This became the impetus for STEIM's foundation. Though STEIM initially played a supporting role as a bastion where the political relevance and significance of electro-instrumental music were discussed, the group managed to acquire an independent position via technological innovation. They constructed metal consoles with removable units that could be used both centrally as well as decentrally, together with a large mixing board that allowed for the quick patching of studio equipment. These developments resulted in an extensive modular system, also known as the 'black box system', in which the principles of voltage-control were applied as fully as possible.
Despite STEIM's contribution to many concerts and manifestations, it was only with the arrival of Michel Waisvisz in 1973 that the emphasis came to focus on STEIM as a laboratory/workplace in addition to its functions of research and education. Waisvisz introduced a completely new musical-electronic principle: the Cracklebox. He made use of a property of electronic circuits that was usually considered undesirable: instability. This phenomenon is typically combated against, but Waisvisz instead wanted to advance it by connecting the appropriate points in an electronic circuit with touchable surfaces. This principle formed the basis of many of the instruments and objects he designed and built in collaboration with STEIM technicians until 1980, and which he's used in countless concerts and music theater productions. This technique was also used for a number of art exhibitions. The 'crackle' instruments were different than the usual set of instruments because of the directness and sensitivity with which they could be played (for example, the use of many different presets meant that there was no time delay). They were also able to create complex sounds with relatively few actions." (Spekle & Waisvisz)
Selected STEIM instruments
- Black Box System (Zwarte Dozen), by Rob van de Poel (1972)
- Eemnes Machines, by Victor Wentink (1975–79)
- Crackle Box (Kraakdoos), Crackle Synth, by Michel Waisvisz, Geert Hamelberg, Peter Beyls and Nico Bes (1975)
- The Hands, by Michel Waisvisz (since 1984). One of the world's first gestural MIDI controllers. Two wooden frames for the hands with switches, potentiometers, tilt sensors, and ultrasound.
- Hyperstring Project, by Jon Rose. Extending a Violin Bow with Sensors. (since 1985)
- STEIM Sensor-Lab. Portable Mini-Computer which translates analogue Sensor data into MIDI Code. (1989)
- The Web, by Michel Waisvisz (1990)
- The Sweatstick, by Ray Edgar (1990)
- The Lady's Glove, by Laetitia Sonami (1991)
- Nic Collins: Midi Concertina (1992)
- Chromasome, by Walter Fabeck (1994)
- Mutantrumpet, by Ben Neill (2008)
- Lick Machine, by Frank Baldé (1989-1995). MIDI Macro-Controlling Software
- LiSa, by Michel Waisvisz and Frank Baldé. Realtime software instrument for live sampling and realtime audio manipulation (since 1995)
- Big Eye, by Tom Demeyer. Video to MIDI converter (1995-2001)
- Image/ine, by Steina Vasulka and Tom Demeyer. Software instrument for realtime video manipulation (1996-2001)
- MIDI Joy, by Frank Baldé. Mapping game controllers to MIDI Code (1997-2002)
- JunXion, by Michel Waisvisz and Frank Baldé. Mapping game controllers, audio, video and sensor data to MIDI and OSC (since 2003)
Structure and people
STEIM is a foundation, financially supported by the Dutch ministry of Culture. It invites international artists in residence of different musical and artistic styles and scenes. Aside from offering support in theoretic and practical development of contemporary musical instruments, STEIM also hosts in-house concerts, exhibitions and workshops. The work in progress of supported artists is presented in open studio events.
- Peter Schat, 1971-1973
- Peter Bennink, 1973-?
- Misha Mengelberg
- Michel Waisvisz, 1981-2008
- Dick Rijken, since 2009
Artistic guest directors
- George Lewis, Joel Ryan, Clarence Barlow, 1985-c1990
- Nicolas Collins, 1992-1995
- Steina Vasulka, 1996-1997
- Sally Jane Norman, 1998-2000
- Daniel Schorno, Netochka Nezvanova, 2001-2003
- Daniel Schorno, 2003-2004
- Jan St. Werner, 2004-2006
- Mazen Kerbaj, Atau Tanaka, 2006-2008
- Tarek Atoui, Tina Blaine, 2008
- Takuro Mizuta Lippit (DJ Sniff), 2008-2013
- Dominic Alldis, 1988
- Tom Cora, 1992
- Peter Cusack, 1996
- Benton C Bainbridge, 1999
- John Richards, 2007
- Henry Vega, 2009/10
- Mark Trayle, 2010
- Kasia Glowicka, 2011
- Michael Waisvisz, "The Hands: A Set of Remote MIDI-controllers", ICMC '85 Proceedings, 1985, pp 313-318.
- Volker Krefeld, "The Hand in the Web: An Interview with Michel Waisvisz", Computer Music Journal 14(2): "New Performance Interfaces 2", Summer 1990, pp 28-33.
- Nicolas Collins, "Exploded View: The Musical Instrument at Twilight", STEIM festival, Oct 1993, PDF. Catalogue essay.
- Roland Spekle, Michel Waisvisz, "STEIM, a reconstruction", [1990s], PDF.
- Sally Jane Norman, Michel Waisvisz, Joel Ryan, "Touchstone", 1998, PDF. Written on the occasion of the first STEIM Touch manifestation in 1998. 
- Michel Waisvisz, "Gestural Round Table", 1999, PDF. Response to questions formulated by the gestural controllers group at the IRCAM. The same questions were also sent to: Max Mathews, Jean-Claude Risset, Chris Chafe, William Buxton, Tod Machover, Don Buchla, Robert Moog and Laetitia Sonami.
- Netochka Nezvanova, "leaves+petalz", Bern, 2001, PDF.
- Joel Ryan, "MuViz V2/ZKM", 2002. Arguments for the participants in the Workshop in Music Visualization sponsored by V2/ZKM in the Winter of 2002.
- Michel Waisvisz, "Composing the now - notes for a lecture - on engagement with sonic time through sensors, electronica, loudspeakers and ears", 2003. Written on the occasion of 40 years IPEM symposium in Gent, October 2003.
- Kristina Andersen, "‘ensemble’: Playing with Sensors and Sound", CHI 2004, Vienna, 2004, pp 1239-1242.
- Kristina Andersen, "It Felt Like Clown Sparkles", Interactions, Sep-Oct 2004, pp 61-63.
- Kristina Andersen, "Black Box: Exploring Simple Electronic Interaction", Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction (TEI'08), Bonn, 2008, pp 207-208.
- Takuro Lippit, Kristina Andersen, "STEIM", Interactions 19:4, Jul-Aug 2012, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), pp 90-93, PDF. Interview.
- Giuseppe Torre, Kristina Andersen, Frank Baldé, "The Hands: The Making of a Digital Musical Instrument", Computer Music Journal 40:2, Summer 2016, pp 22-34.
- Joel Ryan, "Some Remarks on Musical Instrument Design at STEIM", n.d.
- Joel Ryan, "As If By Magic Some Remarks on Musical Instrument Design at STEIM", n.d.
- Rudy Koopmans, "On Music and Politics: Activism of Five Dutch Composers: Louis Andriessen, Reinbert De Leeuw, Misha Mengelberg, Peter Schat, Jan van Vlijmen", Key Notes 4, 1976, pp 19-38.
- Curtis Roads, "The Second STEIM Symposium on Interactive Composition in Live Electronic Music", Computer Music Journal 10:2, Summer 1986, pp 44-50.
- Nico Bes, "STEIM. A summary of important facts and developments", Den Haag, 1986, pp 8-17.
- Craig Anderton, "STEIM. In the Land of Alternative Controllers", Keyboard Magazine 1994, pp 54-62.
- Hugh Davies, "Elektroakustische Live-Performance. Zur Geschichte und Gegenwart des STEIM", Positionen, 1996. (German)
- Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson, Jonathan Arnowitz, "Michel Waisvisz: The Man and the Hands", Interactions, Sep-Oct 2005, pp 63-67.
- Andreas Otto, Die Entwicklung elektronischer Musikinstrumente am STEIM (Studio für elektro-instrumentale Musik) in Amsterdam seit 1969, Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, 2008, 159 pp. Master's thesis. (German)
- Sandrijn van den Oever, Desarting #2: Tom Verbruggen, Gijs Gieskes, Eindhoven: Onomatopee, 2008, 22 pp.
- Jacqueline Oskamp, Onder stroom: geschiedenis van de elektronische muziek in Nederland, Ambo/Anthos, 2011.  (Dutch)
- Andi Otto, "STEIM-Geschichten. Kurzschlüsse zwischen Klang und Körper seit den 1970ern", perfomap.de, Apr 2012. (German)
- Will Montgomery, "STEIM", The Wire 348, London, Feb 2013, pp 28-35. A feature on STEIM's 40-plus years of activities. Selection of 7 audio recordings, 1978-2010.