Symboter/Symboter Music

Symboter Music

Olaf Schirm(Photographer: Oliver S. Scholten, 2015)

I am a child of the early phase of electronic music. My youth was marked by the beginnings of Tangerine Dream and performances by Klaus Schulze, then Kraftwerk joined and finally Jean Michel Jarre and many others like, Vimal, Vangelis, Tomita, Wendy Carlos, Erdenklang, Claude Larson, Gershon Kingsley, Laurie Anderson, Rupert Hine and , and , and…

Like some of my colleagues, I had little money at my disposal in my youth and decided to build my own instruments as much as possible. Every now and then purchased devices were added, as you can see in the instrument lists of the songs. But I preferred the big modular systems, which I probably liked from my 16th. up to the age of 24. I used publications in magazines and books (Elektor Formant, BME, Tünker) and taught myself the electronic knowledge.

About the time I was 16, I called myself a “symboter.” A pseudonym that for me brings together the two worlds of the human and the machine: the symbiosis of man and robot.

That’s how it started…. the first self-built module synthesizer and sequencer (Symboter A) and a Korg MS20


… and so it went on: here you can see the already larger self-construction module system (Symboter B) on the right, the Roland Jupiter4 and digital sequencers on the left, the Moog Modular System with three keyboards and Ribbon controller at the back. I was able to use this system in my two years of assistance and collaboration with the composer Gershon Kingsley (Popcorn). I founded my first studio for electronic music in Munich in 1975.


Here you can see the last studio, later destroyed by a water pipe break and the end of my music “career”. In a side room stood a wing, the boxes were class, JBL bass reflex with horns, driven by a Citation amplifier, a Roland Jupiter8 and TR808, all on loan from a friend of the time. Then you see the blue PPG Wave 2.2, a very expensive instrument at the time, I also had the PPG Wave Term, very tedious to program, 8 inch floppies, an ame… but the sound was innovative.


In the first years I experimented a lot and played with friends in different compositions, then my cassettes appeared, which surprisingly sold in hundreds. This encouraged me to give some live concerts in a small circle and finally recorded the LP “Japotage” in a group of musicians who had been thrown together. The edition at that time was 2000 pieces and they were quickly gone…



This was followed by the film music for the full-length documentary film “Marlboro Adventure Travel – National Parks USA”.

In the meantime, I worked as an archivist at the Filmkunst-Musikverlag, Munich. This was followed by permanent employment in the church group, Digital Audio. During this time, the TV trailer music was produced for the station PKS (precursor of SAT 1) and the recognition music of the Taurus video cassettes. Here I was finally able to record the 24 track version of my piece “Voyager”. Many radio shows, which were even less commercial at the time, played my music, which was already amazing with the home studio quality at that time.

The work in the church group now moved me to video technology, where I worked for the next few years mainly on the construction of the Special Effects department and later led it. Such as. I created the effects for a Queen music video clip (“Living on my own”, see Symboter VJ) and got to know Freddy Mercury from Queen. Then I created a lot of transmitter graphics, logos, etc. especially for PKS, the later SAT 1. Later I founded my own company (Fourth Art GmbH) for computer animation. In 2000, I founded noDNA AG, the first agency for virtual people. We developed data suits and real-time animation methods, a wild time. During this time I work with Peter Gabriel (Genesis), Dieter Meier (Yello), Helen Schneider and Eberhard Schöner.

In 2006 I went to Berlin because Cologne became too full and too sluggish and the pulse of the time beat for me.

In Berlin Kreuzberg I started with noDNA GmbH in the field of robotics and sensor technology, later also with 3D printers. This resulted in a number of robotic projects, see Symboter Robots. Later, I relocated the growing company to Berlin Mitte to the Gendarmenmarkt and finally to a Berlin technology park. September 2014 I completely withdrew from the company – which still belongs to me – in order to be able to devote myself intensively to my now more extensive projects (in the art of frequency: movement, sound, light, temperature, radio). The company continues to grow in the service robotics sector and is now located in a technology center in Munich Ismaning.

More and more I approach my desire for sound creations again, now quite different, sensor-controlled, random-oriented, compositionally much more complex, in minimalist with finer nuances. For me, the phasing of Steve Reich is as much a stylistic element as the generative music of Brian Eno, but – as I said – “only one element” within a work and not the work. My styles are diverse, all in common is the tendency to break with the traditions. The fruit of my more than 40 years of involvement with electronic and avant-garde music culminates in the exploration of the blurring area of Wellenberg and Wellental, between sound and non-sound. Sound sculptures and room-creating sound experiences fascinate me and works are created again and again that deal with them. The evocative spark can arise for the listener from the will, the unwanted and – by me preferred – from the combination of both elements. I like to take up aspects of John Cage to distance myself from them again. For me, too, the (analog) silence is a sound and the unintended events in a work are important to me. But I set the energetic framework. Some of my music pieces contain vocals or vocal events: similar to James Blake, singing is not about the representation of my personality, but rather about the design of a vocal character in addition to some content to be transported. within the musical scene.

My music is available on soundcloud, at least all new tracks from 2015, a few pieces also in, My youtube channel shows various artistic works of mine from different fields, including visualization, technology and robotics.

New to this list is now bandcamp with the highest bandwidth .wav files.

New release 2011CD Seriously Eric VOL3, publisher: Alter-K, a sampler with a remix of my piece “Crime” by the French group “Spaceships are cool”.

cd front

cd back

2013: A vinyl LP with some pieces by me from the early 80s, published in limited edition of 500 pieces by vinyl on demand





2012-2014: Sound works for installation and videos by the illustrator, painter and sculptor Wolfgang Petrick: Strange Attractor1 and Strange Attractor2. Remixing of the song: The Ambient Song

2014: Music for 5 pianos

2015: EO, Hang, Farewell, Q-Chord, Phased Music for 32 instruments

2016: Heart-Drive

2018: Cluster

2021: The Leo Chronicles, a concept album

2022: Discovery Train

2024: Interference (concept album, work in progress)

Your Symboter

(Member of GEMA)

No Comments

Leave a Reply