Derek Holzer: Neanderthal Electronics

A 5-day workshop of making DIY electronic synths with a final sound performance by participants

03 – 07 June 2019 | 5 – 9pm @ osmo/za, Ljubljana

Not unlike our Neanderthal predecessors who made sound instruments with objects of their natural environment (sticks, stones, skins, bones), we make instruments with objects from our electronic environment (transistors, resistors, capacitors, chips). In this workshop, we will experiment with a number of simple circuits to understand how they function, learn how to construct them, and think about how we can make sound together as a group.

You will have the opportunity to build some of the basic components of a primitive analog modular synthesizer running on a 9V battery:
– Several quick-and-dirty Voltage Controlled Oscillators for wild, untamed frequency modulation feedback chaos*A Voltage Controlled Filter similar to the VCF of the MS-20 synthesizer for carving harmonics out of the chaos
– An algorithmic sequencer much like the one used in Rob Hordijk’s Benjolin instrument, which can also be used to generate digital noise or chunky, 8-bit sounding pseudo-random melodies
– A simple audio mixer
– And a rough-and-ready audio amplifier to make your instrument portable for future hunting and gathering.

This 5 day workshop will be broken into two stages. During the first three days, we will learn about and build the circuits as well as craft the boxes into attractive and functional forms, and during the second two days we will improvise with the boxes and score a collaborative performance to be held on the final Friday night.

WHAT TO BRING: All the electronic components necessary will be provided, however participants are requested to bring two 9V batteries, a salvaged audio loudspeaker from a boombox, hifi system, clock radio, … and a wooden box big enough to hold the speaker and their circuit, with a lid not thicker than 5mm.


Derek Holzer (USA 1972) is an audiovisual artist, researcher, lecturer, and electronic instrument creator based in Stockholm. He has performed live, taught workshops and created scores of unique instruments and installations since 2002 across Europe, North and South America, and New Zealand. He is currently a PhD researcher in Sound and Music Computing at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, focusing on historically informed sound synthesis design.

Derek Holzer

How to apply

WORKSHOP IS FULL! The workshop fee is 35 € and must be settled before the workshop (via invoice). The registration fee covers the cost of materials, the final product remains in your possession. The workshop will be held in English. The number of participants is limited, please apply by sending an email with a short motivation letter (max 3 sentences) why you want to participate to


Projekt Atol Institute, with support from the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Public Administration and Municipality of Ljubljana, Department for Culture.