Karlheinz Essl

Portrait KHE


fLUX - fLIGHT - fLOOD - fLAKE - fLITTER - fLUNGER - fLAW - fLAWless - fLOCK - fLUMEN - fLOSS - fLÜSTERN - fLIP / fLAP - fLUSH - fLINK - pFLUG - flASH - fLAME - fLOWer

Realtime Generated Sound Scape and Improvisation Environment


fLOW is a site-specific work-in-progress that was started under ever-changing titles in October 1998. The entire project is carried out in numerous steps and takes place in various location with changing musicians from different fields like New Music, experimental jazz, free improvisation and New Electronic Music.

The project is based on a sound scape that is generated in realtime by a computer program written in MSP which runs on Apple Macintosh G3 machines. It fills the space with flooding sounds that resemble - metaphorically - the timbres of water, fire, earth, and air. This ambient sound scape generator has been released as a shareware Macintosh computer program which can be downloaded from the net.

For each performance, the sound scape is interpreted and commented by live-musicians. Each realisation is developed for the specific place and takes into account its individual socio-cultural context. Besides music and sound, a realisation can also include light installations, film projections, performance aspects, elaborated time scores and computer-generated Playing Strategies.

Integral part of each performance is the m@ze°2 (Modular Algorithmic Zound Environment), a computer-based Realtime Composition and Improvisation Environment developed by Karlheinz Essl since 1996 which the composer plays himself on an Apple PowerBook computer.

photo of live-performance

Karlheinz Essl playing his electronic instrument m@ze°2 during the live-performance of fLUX
7 Oct 1998, SCHÖMER-HAUS Klosterneuburg

The very core of fLOW itself - the realtime generated sound scape - also functions as a multi-channel sound installation which can be adapted to different spaces and locations. A CD-based version running on several indepedent CD-Players has also been developed.


As a work-in-progress, the piece is presented in various locations with different musicians in diverse socio-cultural contexts under ever-changing titles. The climax - named fLOWer - took place at the gothic Minoritenkirche of KUNST.HALLE.KREMS on 13 May 2000.

  1. fLUX
    7 Oct 1998: SCHÖMER-HAUS, Klosterneuburg (A)
    Room exploration for flute, bass clarinet, violin, sampler, electronics and computer
    Duration: 100'

  2. fLIGHT
    5 Nov 1998: echoraum, Vienna (A)
    Multimedia performance for percussion, e-guitar, schreber instruments, cümbüs, theremin, computer, electronics, light installation and realtime-generated computer animation
    Duration: 70'

  3. fLOOD
    25 Nov 1998: TRABANT, Vienna (A)
    Gig for 3 computer players (feat. Zeitblom and David Ender)
    video projection: Jack Hauser
    Duration: 81'

  4. fLAKE
    14 Dec 1998: rhiz, Vienna (A)
    Jam for electric guitar (feat. Martin Mandl) and live electronics
    video projection by Jack Hauser
    Duration: whole evening (three set between 30' and 60')

  5. fLITTER
    21 Jan 1999: Alte Schmiede, Vienna (A)
    Chamber improvisation for 2 computer players (feat. Christian Fennesz)
    Duration: 80' (two sets, each approx. 40')

  6. fLUNGER
    10 Mar 1999: Galerie Charim-Klocker, Vienna (A)
    Room performance for percussions (feat. Elisabeth Flunger), computer and live-electronics
    Duration: 70'

  7. fLAW
    15 Apr 1999: The LAB, Chicago (USA)
    Solo improvisation for computer (by Karlheinz Essl)
    Duration: 75'

  8. fLAWless
    17 Apr 1999: house concert at Bob Marsh's home, Chicago (USA)
    Solo improvisation for computer (by Karlheinz Essl)
    Duration: 35'

  9. fLOCK
    18 April 1999: Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago (USA)
    Concerto for ensemble and live electronics (feat. Ensemble Noamnesia and members of the AAMC)
    Duration: 45'

  10. fLUMEN
    24 April 1999: Brucknerhaus, Linz (A)
    Process for bass clarinet, trombone, e-guitar, percussion, electronics, computers and spotslight (feat. Mike Svoboda et al.)
    Duration: 140'

  11. fLOSS
    12 June 1999: KlangArt 99 Congress, Osnabrück (D)
    Confrontation for 2 computer performers and sound scape (feat. Jochen Bohnes, Freiburg)
    Duration: 40'

  12. fLÜSTERN
    16 Jun 1999: Bath of the Sargfabrik, Vienna (A)
    Performance for dancers, swimmers, water, light, percussion and live electronics (feat. LUX*FLUX)
    Duration: 120'

  13. fLIP / fLAP
    29 Sep 1999: Galerie MAERZ, Linz (A)
    Agitation for LIP-agitated instruments and LAP-top computer (feat. Jack Hauser and David Ender)
    Duration: 40'

  14. fLUSH
    14 Oct 1999: Monty Theatre, Antwerp (B)
    version for 4 PowerBooks
    feat. Richard Barrett, Jochen Bohnes and Christian Fennesz
    Duration: 60'

  15. fLINK
    16 Oct 1999: Künstlerhaus, Vienna (A)
    Vernissage "Max Weiler im Jahrhundert der Moderne - Retrospektiven"
    Room exploration for percussions and electronics (feat. Elisabeth Flunger)
    Duration: 30'

  16. N.N.
    23 Oct 1999: Radio 100, Amsterdam (NL)
    fLOW sound scape used as an improvisational basis for
    Anne La Berge (flutes and electronics), Cor Fuhler (electronics), Steve Heather (drums and electronics)
    Duration: 4 hours (0:00 - 4:00 a.m.)

  17. pFLUG
    4 + 5 Nov 1999: Opening of the Essl Collection, Klosterneuburg (A)
    Ambience for sound scape, live electronics, and live-generated video
    Feat. Christian Fennesz, Peter Rehberg, Zeitblom, Karlheinz Essl
    Video: pReview
    Duration: 200'

  18. flASH
    13 Dec 1999: rhiz, Vienna (A)
    Interference between live electronic sounds and spatial sound projection
    Festival "fluctuated rooms"
    feat. dynamo (sound projection) and Karlheinz Essl (electronics)
    Duration: approx. 60'

  19. fLAME
    4 Feb 2000: Pumpenhaus, Münster (D)
    Crossfade for two computer performers
    feat. Richard Barrett (computer and keyboard) and Karlheinz Essl (computer and electronics)
    Duration: 36'

  20. fLOWer
    13 May 2000: KUNST.HALLE.KREMS / Minoritenkirche Stein (A)
    Showdown for sound scape, voice, live musicians, live electronics, and light installation
    Duration: 130'

  21. 5 May 2004: Cardiff (UK)
    Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Weston Gallery
    Helen Drury: oboe
    James R. Dooley: computer

  22. 29 Mar 2007: Dublin (IE)
    Project Arts Centre
    EAR New Music Collective
    Maeve O'Hara: percussion
    Fergal Dowling: computer

  23. 27 Aug 2018: Rome (I)
    Stazione Trastevere
    Francesco Cuoghi: electric guitar, electronics
    Maurizio Barbetti: viola

  24. fLOW per Sandro
    21 Jun 2019: Rome (I)
    Biblioteca Sandro Onofrio
    Francesco Cuoghi: electric guitar, electronics
    Maurizio Barbetti: viola
    Nazarena Recchia: harp

  25. fLOW per Roma
    18 Dec 2021: Rome (I)
    Chiesa di San Paolo entro le Mura
    de natura sonorum
    Francesco Cuoghi: electric guitar, electronics
    Maurizio Barbetti: viola
    Nazarena Recchia: harp


Besides being performed in public performances, fLOW has also been presented in various site-specific room installations:

  1. 4 Nov 1999 - 1 April 2000: Klosterneuburg (A)
    Sammlung Essl, Klosterneuburg (A)
    4-channel room and light installation
    Part of the sound art exhibition "Klangwelten"
    Duration: 5 months

  2. 15 + 16 Nov 1999: Barcelona (E)
    Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona
    EN RED 0 - VII. Symposium of Electroacoustic and Electronic Music
    2-channel version
    Duration: 60' (played in a chill out zone)

  3. 1 - 3 Dec 1999: Melbourne (AUS)
    First Iteration - Conference on Generative Systems in the Electronic Arts
    4-channel version with 2 CD players
    Duration: 3 days (played in an outdoor courtyard)

  4. 21 März 2000: Vienna (A)
    Galerie Charim-Klocker
    Galerienfrühling - Exhibition Anna und Bernhard Blume
    Room installation with 3 CD players
    Duration: 2 hours

  5. 8 - 9 April 2000: Villa Bosch, Heidelberg (D)
    Heidelberger Frühling / Musikwerkstatt 2000
    4-channel version with 2 CD players
    Duration: 2 days

  6. 19 June - 8 July 2000: Garden of the Austrian Cultural Institute in Rome (I)
    Festival Fuori di qui (curated by Cecilia Casorati)
    4-channel outdoor sound scape with 2 CD players
    Duration: 3 weeks

  7. 25 - 26 August 2001: Montpellier, Vermont (USA)
    Bethany Chruch, Dreamroom
    K & D Ought-One Festival
    4-channel version with 2 CD players
    Duration: 2 days

  8. 20 Oct 2002: Salo (FI)
    Salo Art Museum
    Duration: 30'

  9. 23 Aug 2005: Zürich (CH)
    Flussbad Untere Letten
    Stefan Laurens Müller - Kunstfluss
    Duration: 1 night

  10. 16 Feb 2006: Ankara (TR)
    Cankaya Municipiality Contemporary Arts Center (Cagdas Sanatlar Merkezi)
    concert series Electroacoustic Capital - Capital Electroacoustic
    presented by Mehmet Can Özer
    Duration: 15 minutes


Andrea Zschunke
web@art - Akustische Kunst im Netz
radio feature (Südwestfunk Baden-Baden, 14 Jun 1999)

Hanno Ehrler
www.essl.at - Der Wiener Komponist Karlheinz Essl
radio feature (Bayerischer Rundfunk, 13 Sep 1999)

Carsten Fastner
Flirt mit dem Raum
Parnass, Heft 5/99

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Updated: 3 Sep 2023