Kyma (7.43) Delivers Performance Enhancements and Expanded Functionality

29 June 2024, Champaign, IL . The latest Kyma release (version 7.43) focuses on performance optimization and expanded functionality.

Performance Boost: Optimizations to the Smalltalk Interpreter and garbage collector have resulted in noticeable performance improvements for Kyma running on both macOS and Windows, especially under low-memory conditions.

Here’s a short video of the in-house tool we developed for monitoring and fine-tuning the dynamics of the garbage collector (Note: when monitoring memory usage, Kyma runs at half speed — this is just for in-house tweaking, not a run-time tool):

Expanded Functionality: Among other enhancements and additions, Kyma now allows you to bind Strings and Collections to ?greenVariables in a MapEventValues. This provides greater flexibility and modularity for “lifted” Sounds as well as signal-flow-wide references to features like file durations, names, collection sizes, and more.

Setting ?firstFileName to a String in all Sounds to the left of the MapEventValues
Binding a Collection of Strings to ?displayNames

The update is free: you can download it from the Help menu in Kyma. As always, a full list of changes and additions is included with the update.

Samy Bardet delivers AFSI keynote in Paris

César and Golden Reel Award-nominated film sound designer Samy Bardet, was invited to present a keynote lecture/demonstration in Paris on 15 June 2024 for the members of L’AFSI (Association Française du Son à l’Image)*. Sound editor, sound designer and composer, Bardet is renowned in the world of cinema for his aesthetic and innovative sound creations. He has also developed a reputation as a specialist in Kyma which he uses to create, transform, combine and interact with sound (and which he describes as “one of the best sound creation tools in the world”).

In his keynote, Bardet guided an audience of sound professionals through the various ways he uses Kyma to create sounds for films such as Babies, Persepolis, Mami Wata and Sébastien Vanicek’s Vermines, including the signal flow editor, the Timeline, the Multigrid, and spectral analysis/resynthesis tools. One of the most important parts of the keynote, according to Bardet, were the live demonstrations of how one can use the Haken Continuum, iPad and Wacom Tablet as interactive sound design controllers.

Bardet describes Kyma as a language, an instrument that one can learn to play and to master. Each user will develop a different interpretation and this is what makes Kyma unique!

Le Kyma est un langage, un instrument qu’il faut apprendre à jouer, maîtriser. Chaque utilisateur aura une interprétation différente et c’est ce qui fait que le Kyma est unique!

Bardet concluded with a list of some practical benefits of working with Kyma, including:

  • Qualité audio
  • Possibilité créative infinie
  • Librairie de sons
  • Stabilité et performance
  • Communauté
  • Suivi & Mise à jour Logicielle gratuite

Through his atelier, SYMA: sound design, Bardet has worked with contemporary artist Laurent Grasso on several exhibitions (for example Uraniborg at the Musée du Jeu de Paume and Soleil Double atthe Perrotin gallery, in Paris. He collaborated on installations at the Musée des Confluences in Lyon for the Antartica and Terra Incognita exhibitions by Luc Jacquet, and has done sound design for augmented reality in collaboration with The Overlap Factory.

Here, he is pictured during the final mix for the 2017 film To the Top:

black and white image of a team intently concentrating on mixing the soundtrack
Mixing for the film “To The Top” (L to R) Samy Bardet, Sound Editor, Sound Designer, Laurent Perez Del Mar, Composer, Serge Hazanavicius, Director, Thierry Lebon, Recording-mixer

* L’AFSI (Association Française du Son à l’Image) is a professional organization whose aim is to develop relationships, exchange information, discuss methods, contribute to solving common problems, monitor technological progress, and organize meetings to highlight and communicate the importance of the creative and technical contribution of sound professionals in film audiovisual production, and related media.

The seas that connect us

When Hasan Hujairi was a graduate student in South Korea, his friends took him to see a fortune teller. But instead of reading his future, the fortune teller said she felt compelled to tell him about one of his past lives. She told him that he had been a (Korean) monk who had spent his whole life in the monastery, only to eventually leave it behind to explore the world in search of truth.

Hasan Hujairi in his home studio in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Now, some 40 years into his current lifetime, Hujairi continues to explore the world seeking deeper understanding and connections between people. Born in Bahrain, he studied finance at Drake University in Des Moines Iowa, earned a master’s degree in economics with a focus on maritime historiography from Hitotsubashi University (Tokyo, Japan), completed a doctorate in music composition at Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea and, since January 2023, he now leads the music department of the non-profit Sharjah Art Foundation in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

We asked Hasan some questions about his music, his multidisciplinary education, and his plans for the future of the Sharjah Art Foundation and for his own artistic work:

Eighth Nerve (EN): With the notable exception of Iowa, everywhere you’ve lived has been either an island, a peninsula, or coastal. Do you think that living on an island or in proximity to the sea has an effect on your way of thinking?

Hasan Hujairi (HH): An island brings with it a peculiar form of seeing the world. Geographically, it may sound like it’s isolated from larger lands, but in reality, the sea that surrounds it brings an infinite chance of someone from somewhere else passing through. The sea, as I have come to know it, is not something that separates people, but rather brings people and their cultures along with them.

Being from Bahrain, a small island that is almost invisible on world maps, allows me to think of where I come from as being a meeting point for others from all over, but also a very unique place with its own indigenous culture and history unlike anywhere else. It is both extraordinary and not at the same time. I think that combination of looking for the ‘extraordinary’ while also strongly believing in the interconnectivity with others carries over to my way of relating to the world, and can be heard within my music.

Photo by MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

EN: Your master’s thesis is on the economic history and regional economics of the Gulf region. How have your two fields of study “cross-fertilized” each other?

HH: From my studies in maritime history and economics, I have come to see that the world is far more interconnected than what may appear, and that seas and oceans bring people together rather than cause separation.

It also helped me look at how culture moves from one place to the other, and how the idea of tradition is open to debate and constant reification. Music and the study of its history has also been a way for me to look into understanding dynamics in the social, cultural, and even political realms.

These realizations have sometimes affected my approach to composing, by experimenting with the relation between the performers, audiences, and conductors (if present). It also informs how I make use of sound (as samples or as objects) within a piece of music based on certain sonic phenomena and social structures innate to the world I know.

EN: Several of your pieces are for Kyma and Qanun. Is your choice of Qanun culturally symbolic? Or did you select it for more pragmatic reasons (i.e., you have one and already know how to play it;)

HH: My main instrument for much of the last thirty years has been the oud, which is a fretless lute-like instrument. I only started learning to play qanun over the past year, at around the same time I started with Kyma. I’ve got both instruments available, but what I am trying to achieve with the qanun is to layer different fragments of a maqam (called ajnās, which is the plural form of jins – which are sometimes 3-note, 4-note, or 5-notes in succession that suggest the character of melodic line) across different octaves.

The reason I like this is because my own mistakes and unpolished technique appear in the first layer of bare-bone improvisation, and then when I process some of the audio through Kyma – blemishes and all – and record the resulting sound to use elsewhere, there are always small points of interest that surprise me as I try to figure how/when/where to use the Kyma-processed sounds. I also hope to use this process to dig deeper into the possibilities of Kyma while working in parallel with ideas in music that best reflect my personal interests. I’ve got a number of strange instruments lying around that I still haven’t had the chance to run through Kyma such as the daxophone, theremin, and jahla (percussive clay pots from Bahrain). All in good time.


EN: Wasn’t one of your compositions for Qanun and Kyma recently performed in Vienna?

HH: Yes, on 30 May 2024, my piece “A Home for All Underdogs: Songs of Hope, Failure, and Ambivalence” was played at an event in Vienna’s Echoraum called Sonic Agency – Listening Session XIII.

The program is a project hosted by a Vienna-based platform called Struma+Iodine under its artistic director, booker, and editor-in-chief Shilla Strelka. Shilla had approached me to ask if I would contribute a piece of music between 1:00 – 60:00 minutes in length for their Listening Session series and I very quickly and happily agreed to put something together.

I asked Shilla if the program’s name – Sonic Agency – had anything to do with Brandon LaBelle’s book of the same name. She said that it does – with a few caveats. In fact, Brandon himself had been involved in one of the earlier listening sessions and approved the use of Sonic Agency as a title. However, Shilla strongly felt that with the growing list of contributors, events, references, and projects around Sonic Agency, her curatorial statement has emerged as a manifesto.

EN: Part of that manifesto states that: “Sonic Agency is grounded in the sonic’s ability to introduce the feeling of connectivity, and the possibility of community – a community yet to come”. What is the role of music in introducing a sense of connection and a community yet to come?

HH: From my perspective, I think the collective experience of listening or sharing music/sounds – either at a single moment or over time – creates a bond between people. Perhaps those people also share a particular moral stance on certain global issues, and this act of listening to each other and/or sharing certain music/sonic experiences is a way to collectively empathize, grieve, or perhaps even celebrate. The event of people coming around a sonic act, in essence, could potentially connect people to create a community. This could be one such example of how sound gives agency to a community.

Not only do the circumstances around which we come together as people feel more and more extraordinary, but the sonic experience makes it all the more intense, visceral, personal, and possibly meaningful. It also comes down to a unique shared experience, bringing all those involved somehow together.

EN: Do you believe that music can effect change? In what way(s)?

HH: As music is often part of other phenomena such as rituals, ceremonies, events, protests, demonstrations, and cultural movements, it certainly has in many cases been a part of the bringing of change to different societies. With all that being said, societal change is – in my perhaps naively idealistic view of things – brought about through the collective will of people. I also think that on a more fundamental level, it can affect the space in which it is in, once people engage with it, listen to it, and acknowledge it. All in all, music can effect different forms of change, but it cannot do so without people, who give it meaning or give it agency.

EN: What is a “maverick composer”?

HH: The maverick composer is essentially a categorization of composers who work against convention. Such composers often exist within the intersection of what some may call outlier composers, outsider composers, experimental composers, and even eccentric composers. Moreover, such composers – despite being seen as outsiders to the “tradition” of composition (in the Classical Western Art Music sense) – end up having varying degrees of influence on music composition discourse.

[In 2018], I completed my doctoral thesis on the idea of reorienting maverickism, in which I call for a more inclusive view of “maverick” composers whose musical geneses do not necessarily begin with Classical Western music tradition. For this, I had interviewed Halim El-Dabh, Pauline Oliveros, and Korean gayaegeum master/composer Hwang Byungki.

All these years later, the notion of mavericks and outsiders still fascinates me. The reason behind this fascination in the maverick within a more global outlook would, to me, make the tradition of composition within the scope of Classical Western art music not ‘exceptional’ in the sense that it would exclude all other forms of music traditions from the possibility of innovation and individuality.

There is certainly room for someone from a small island, as in the case of myself, to try to contribute new ideas or concepts into music composition once a more global perspective of possible approaches to composing music is accepted. I find this encouraging and challenging at once, which makes it all the more interesting for me to tackle. Whether I ever succeed in making a contribution to the general discourse on music composition is a whole other debate.

EN: Do you consider yourself an “underdog” or an “outsider”?

HH: I sometimes wonder whether such a way of seeing things could inform my own practice given that I come from a particular part of the world with a very particular culture and history. Now that I think about it, I realize that I have deliberately put myself in situations in which I was an outsider. For instance, when I went to Seoul to study my doctoral degree in music composition, I was asked if I wanted to be part of the Western music department or the Korean music department. I chose to be in the Korean music department because I wanted to make the most of my time there, and to try to work within a music culture that I knew very little about. I thought that this would allow me to reflect on my own background in maqam music from the Middle East.

EN: Could you tell us more about the Sharjah Art Foundation? What have you been doing so far, and what are your longer term goals for the future?

HH: Sharjah Art Foundation is non-profit art foundation based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. It hosts a broad range of cultural and art events, with some of its core initiatives being the Sharjah Biennial, the annual March Meeting, residencies, production grants, commissions, exhibitions, research, publications and its growing collection. Education and public programming are also a fundamental part of the Foundation’s activities, and one of the key ways of engaging the local communities.

I manage the Music Department, which was established in January 2023 [when I joined] the Foundation. So far, the Music Department has programmed a series of concerts; run educational workshops on field recording, improvisation, and coding; we’ve also collaborated with some music festivals.

For the immediate future, we are planning to expand our activities by setting up an online radio station, hosting music-related talks, publishing albums of performances recorded here, and publishing translations of important music/sound-related texts into Arabic. For example, I’m working on the first Arabic translation of John Cage’s Silence: Lectures and Writings. Although this is a small gesture, I hope that it would introduce a new source of conversation among musicians and composers who only have access to published material in Arabic.

We also have some other very exciting initiatives in the pipelines but it is a little too early for me to disclose them at this point. Ultimately, it is my dream to see Sharjah become one of the important points within the Middle East and North Africa region that makes critical contributions to music and sonic culture.

EN: Musically speaking, how much interchange goes on between artists in in the Gulf region? Are there ever, for example, shared concerts or conferences or exchanges with artists from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait?

HH: Your question on musical interchange happening in the Gulf is a very important one, and it’s something that actually affects how I see things for myself. The notion of the “nation state” in my part of the world, as you can imagine, is a relatively new concept in the grand scheme of things. That being said, borders between what is now known as the Gulf region have always – more or less – been open.

The sea itself was never something that separated people, but rather was one of the key ways in which everyone came together. The same could be said about the desert hinterlands of the Arabian Peninsula – they are in a sense – liquid, in that it carries people and their cultures across.

Photo by John Nevard: NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Music and other forms of culture have been shared and exchanged between the region for potentially thousands of years, and it doesn’t only stop there. There are very clear traces of influence from other parts of the Western region of the Indian Ocean within the music of Bahrain and the Gulf. The presence of music from the eastern coasts of Africa, from southern Iran, and parts of South Asia embedded into the music of Bahrain and the Gulf region is undeniable. This makes the music of the Gulf different from other parts of the Arabic-speaking world.

Today, more modern forms of music in the region may tour around the region, with a great example being the late Ali Bahar and the Al-Ekhwa Band of Bahrain going to Oman only to find a crowd of 50,000 Omanis there to attend the concert. There is also plenty of cultural exchange going between artists from the Gulf region and those from other parts. The influence of music from Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – for instance – is undeniable, and we still look at those regions as major cultural hubs for our own understanding of the totality of Arabic music.

EN: What aspect of Kyma would you most like to master over the course of the next year?

HH: What I hope to achieve over the coming year is to slowly build my own set of tools based on a few ideas I’ve been wishing to pursue: those relating to using Kyma as a tool to compose, and those relating to using Kyma as an instrument. I am especially keen on making use of ideas from maqam music theory and making use of techniques to extend instruments such as the qanun or the oud, or ways to manipulate field recordings. My ultimate hope is to find ways to extend compositional/performative techniques related to the music from West Asia and North Africa, along with more vernacular musics from my native Bahrain.

In other words, I’m trying to find a mirror of myself as a composer within Kyma; a mirror that helps me get to know myself better as a composer and as a performing musician.


EN: Hasan, thank you for taking the time to share some of your music, your thoughts, experiences, and plans for the future! It sounds like the monk’s quest is ongoing and will continue  for the foreseeable future!

For more about Hasan Hujairi:

Soundtrack for a Lost World

Performing with Kyma and a huge (but very soft) pipe organ, Franz Danksagmüller generated a live soundtrack for the silent film The Lost World (think silent-film Jurassic Park from the 1920s) on 25 May 2024 at the National Radio Symphony Concert Hall in Katowice Poland for an audience of 1600 people.

Franz Danksagmuller monitoring the VCS, the film, the Multigrid (on the iPad) and his pencil notes

The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice seats an audience of 1800 people

In a gravity-defying stunt, Danksagmüller placed two mics within the swell boxes of both Manual V and Manual III, at the apex of the organ pipes, so he could process the pipe organ through Kyma without danger of feedback. He and his sound engineer worked until 2:30 am fine-tuning the setup.


Poster for the film “The Lost World” (1925) * First National Pictures – Source, Public Domain,

* Note that, according to Wikipedia, “This historical image is not a factually accurate dinosaur restoration. Reason: Pronated hands, real T. rex did not have more than two fingers (unlike in this image), outdated posture, tail dragging, lack of possible feathers”

A Movable Beast

In his role at BEAST (Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre), Simon Smith works with massive multi-speaker array concert systems on a daily basis. These experiences inspired him to design a system of his own that could generate moving sound sources and immersion without the need to carry around large amps and speakers.

When Smith came across the Minirig loudspeaker — a small Bluetooth speaker typically used for small parties and “annoying people on the beach” — he bought 4 of them and, using standard microphone mounts and gooseneck microphone stands, he started experimenting with various configurations. Initially using tea coasters and cable ties, he eventually found drainpipe mounts that fit the Minirigs perfectly. Now he’s able to flexibly angle the loudspeakers toward nearby reflective surfaces (walls, windows, ceilings, panels), creating an impression of the sound coming from the room and not just the loudspeaker.




The speakers are just loud enough that he can play along with acoustic instruments without overwhelming them. Smith’s initial setup has now grown to 8 speakers with 2 subs, and by design, the entire rig (Pacamara, Laptop, and Minirigs) can be battery powered, opening the possibility for impromptu off-grid performances in interesting acoustic spaces. He christened his modular sound spatialisation system the Portable Immersive Sound System intentionally, because he knew he was destined to take it places.

During a recent performance at PAN-PAN, Simon used his MYO armbands to control a concatenatenative synthesis patch routed through Kyma (running a custom delay line designed by Alan Jackson and workshopped by the Kyma Kata), then through an Eventide H90 which sent quad out to his portable spatializing speakers.

See you in Seoul

Video frame from a performance of Testimonio Objetivo by composer Jeffrey Stolet

International Computer Music Conference
“Sound in Motion”
7-13 July 2024

There will be multiple opportunities to connect with fellow Kyma artists during the ICMC 2024 in Seoul, South Korea, where you’ll hear them performing on several concerts and presenting their ideas on paper sessions. Here are just a few of the composers using Kyma who will be participating in the ICMC during the week of 7-13 July 2024:

Shuyu Lin When Dandelion Whistles
Fang Wan Song Yun
Chi Wang Transparent Affordance
Jeffrey Stolet Testimonio objetivo
Oliver Kwapis Lucky
Jinshuo Feng Listening to the Deep: An Interactive Music Exploration of Oceanic Soundscapes and Climate Change
Tao Li 枯山水 Beyond Landscape
Hector Bravo Benard Nowhere

On the paper sessions:

Jeffrey Stolet Music-Centric Description of Performance with Data-Driven Musical Instruments


Run, by Mei-ling Lee, is a journey exploring the depths of fear, uncertainty, and the inevitability of death. Written for voice and double bass processed live through Kyma, the composition confronts our deepest fears about life and death, and contemplates the nature of “letting go.” Through this sonic journey, the composition explores what it means—in the midst of the transitory nature of life—to try to hold on to the ephemeral, the intangible. One aspect of this question might be: do the dead hold on to the world, or is it actually the living who won’t let go?

Tipping Point

As part of the 2024 International Orgelpark Symposium on 7 June 2024, Franz Danksagmüller invited Carla Scaletti to talk about her piece misfold for hyper-organ and Kyma, which was composed specifically for Danksagmüller.

During the round table wrap up on the final day of the conference, Randall Harlow described misfold as an example of “music for and of our time”

Here’s a performance of misfold recorded by Franz Danksagmüller at St. Nikolai Kirche in Hamburg earlier this year.

La Berge and friends

Anne La Berge posted a photo of her live performance setup for the Tell me more concert at Splendor in Amsterdam, 29 June 2024, featuring her flute processed through Kyma controlled by Continuum mini, iPad and enhanced by a hand-cranked siren:

La Berge had performances throughout the month of June:

Saturday 15 June: The Day of the Composer in The Netherlands
Ensemble Oihua performed La Berge’s composition RAW as part of a varied program at the Batavierhuis in Rotterdam (La Berge performed with them).
Pieter de Hoochweg 108, Rotterdam

Wednesday 26 June
Anne Wellmer, Matt Rogalsky and Anne La Berge (not pictured, but her flute, Pacamara, laptop, Continuum mini controller, and iPad are on the left edge of the table)
Performance with electronics, objects, instruments and inventive musical friendliness.
Zaal 100, De Wittenstraat 100

Saturday 29 June: Tell Me More
Anne La Berge performed a new version of Up Until Now, using old and new material all in one breath as the story of her life.
Splendor Amsterdam, Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 116

Leaving a trace…

Composer Tom Williams used Kyma to extensively transform the sonic materials in his 2023 acousmatic composition Piano Trace, performed at multiple festivals including Jauna Muzika 2023 in Vilnius, Noisefloor 2024 in Lisbon; Spatial Audio Gathering, DMU, Leicester; NYCEMF2024, New York. Williams, who has a doctorate in music composition from Boston University, currently heads the Music Production MA program at Coventry University.

Piano Trace is conceived as an unfolding of trace material that marks its original source: soundings made on an upright piano. Williams writes:

This is my piano. The piano that has been by my side as a tool for composition but never, until now, the actual source of my composition. A pocketful of playful recordings from the soundboard, piano keys, pedals and strings are the sonic roots. Throughout, and within the transformations and messing-up of the source sounds, there lies an inherent trace, a timbral DNA, a semblance of sonic integrity that is the ephemeral body of Piano Trace.