Steven Kemper is a creative music technologist, instrument designer, and composer. As a creative music technologist Steven’s scholarship blends technical development, creative output, and humanistic inquiry. His approach focuses on developing technologies that enhance the connectivity between computer-based music and the physical world, and how we can view both cutting-edge and historical musical technologies through the lenses of anthropomorphism, embodiment, and the cyborg.
Research areas include musical robotics, instrument design, human-computer interaction, gesture, and musical expression. Steven’s most recent work consists of a series of vibration-motor actuated performance systems: the Tremolo-Harp, Lux Tremens, Manus Tremens, and Tremolo-Chimes. He is a co-founder of Expressive Machines Musical Instruments, a collective dedicated to creating and composing music for robotic instruments. He also co-developed the RAKS (Remote electroAcoustic Kinesthetic Sensing) System, a wireless sensor interface designed specifically for belly dancers with composer and dancer Aurie Hsu. Steven’s research has been presented at NIME, ICMC, and MOCO, and published in Leonardo, Leonardo Music Journal, Organised Sound, and Frontiers in Robotics and AI.
As a composer, Steven creates music for acoustic instruments, instruments and computers, musical robots, dance, and video. His compositions have been performed by the American Modern Ensemble, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, NOW ensemble, and the Grupo Sax-Ensemble. They have also been presented at numerous festivals worldwide, including ICMC, NIME, SEAMUS, SIGCHI, SMC, 12 Nights, Florida Electroacoustic Music Festival, Third Practice Festival, Pixilerations, American Composers Alliance Festival of American Music, and the Seoul International Computer Music Festival. Steven has received awards for his music from the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology, Meet the Composer, the Danish Arts Council, and the International Computer Music Association. His first solo album of electroacoustic music, Mythical Spaces, was released by Ravello Records in 2018. In 2021 Steven was invited to compose the music for an interactive virtual COVID memorial created by NJ.com that was released in 2022.
Steven received a B.A. in Music from Bowdoin College, M.M. in Music Composition from Bowling Green State University, and a Ph.D. in Composition and Computer Technologies from the University of Virginia. From 2013-2023 he was Assistant/Associate Professor of Music Technology and Composition at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Jersey and served as Director of the Music Department from 2021-2023. Steven currently serves as Associate Professor of Computer Music and Digital Arts at the Oberlin Conservatory.