Wiedmann bridges the gap between music and technology


Daniel Dexter, ECE ILLINOIS

ECE technician and staff member Skot P Wiedmann has spent his career working at the intersection of music and engineering.

Skot P Wiedmann
Skot P Wiedmann

Wiedmann, who works in the Electronics Services Shop in the ECE Building, has given several talks and demonstrations of how to build and use synthesizers. He has developed his own synthesizer, called the Hyve Synthesizer, which he uses in his presentations to teach people about the ways they can use technology to express themselves through music.

“I’ve been into synthesizers for a really long time since I was in grade school, and one of the things I like in music is really gestural subtle movements that are often times hard to do with a traditional keyboard,” Wiedmann said. “With synthesizers, you get a lot more ways to change the music and make those sounds. It would be cool to make something that allowed people to have more control over their music.”

Wiedmann gave a lecture at the Pygmalion Festival in Urbana in September, which featured a PechaKucha Night. The event was intended to be a mix of at least two of the festival’s themes; Wiedmann was able to cover three: music, tech, and made.

The presentation, which is formatted in the style of 20 slides at 20 seconds apiece, was about how people can use music as a form as expression with the help of technology. Wiedmann said that the specific format was difficult to prepare for but he was eager to share his thoughts on the subject with the crowd.

“I wanted to inspire people to think about in their own lives or in their own little world and explore what it means to express themselves,” Wiedmann said. “We can take the things we express and give them farther reach because of technology. They have a bigger impact because they can be amplified.”

Wiedmann also hosted a demonstration of his Hyve Synthesizer at the Lost Arts center in Chicago, where he taught the crowd how to build and use their own synthesizer. The audience included people with all different types of technical skill levels, which is what made the talk exciting for him. He had the opportunity to teach people who are interested in music and engineering.

In addition to his lectures on music, Wiedmann teaches Interaction II (ARTS 444) in the School of Art and Design where studentscreate and construct interactive art experiences.

For Wiedmann, Illinois is the perfect place to blend his interests of technology and music. He said that ECE Professor Emeritus James W Beauchamp inspired his own work because of his invention of the harmonic tone generator, which was one of the first blends of electronics and music.

“The reason I came to Illinois is because there is an interdisciplinary aspect to campus where you have different disciplines on the same campus – people working together on different research,” Wiedmann said. “At Illinois, it is a mix of ideas and designs with multiple perspectives.”