Instruments & Interfaces Programme

The master’s programme “Instruments & Interfaces” is offered by the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague together with STEIM in Amsterdam, and started in September 2011. 

Sonology and STEIM have already collaborated for decades on the development of software and hardware that interfaces between performers and electronic instruments. The term “interface” applies here to the context of live electronic music, but also to other forms of artistic activity which depend on interaction between technologies and the users, for example installations, studios for electronic music production, software for spatial sound projection etc. Given the prominence that these issues have acquired in the contemporary arts, it is of utmost importance that both the technical aspects as well as the historical background are incorporated into this educational context.

This two-year master’s programme is oriented towards the realisation of individual projects. In addition, the programme is open to collaborative projects wherein both technical and performative aspects are shared with additional partner researchers. Candidates must be in possession of a relevant bachelor’s degree. Examples of relevant studies would be: various design- or sound-related subjects (for instance composition, sonology, industrial design or interaction design), or related technical subjects such as artificial intelligence, computer studies or electronic engineering. The studies will be conducted in English and applicants are expected to be adequately fluent with the language.

For a detailed curriculum overview and a curriculum handbook, please visit the Royal Conservatoire’s page about the Master of Music in Sonology – specialisation Instruments & Interfaces here:

Admission proposals should be oriented towards one the following categories:

  • Performance: use of interfaces approached from the perspective of playing and/or improvising. Here the emphasis is on making instruments or interfaces for specific uses, such as live performance, installations or mobile applications.
  • Instrumental: the use of sensors to design a playable instrument. Here the emphasis is on the conception, design and realisation of such an instrument on the basis of visualisations and/or sensors together with the appropriate playing techniques.
  • Protocol: the design of hardware for communication. Here the emphasis is more on the technical aspect of producing instruments and interfaces: hardware, sensors, software and the communication between different components on a technical level.
  • During the first year of study, the student, under the supervision of one or more mentors, will develop his/her hardware and/or software. 

Students will take part in STEIM’s “research group”, a weekly meeting where STEIM’s researchers, together with guests and students work on current or innovative research subjects in the area of instruments and interfaces. Master’s students may become full members of the research group, actively participating conceptually and practically in the development of future instruments and interfaces. Furthermore, on the basis of their particular project, students make a selection of supplementary classes from the curricula of the Institute of Sonology (see 

In the second year, emphasis is placed on putting the results of the project into practice, with presentations of the projects to students and the public at STEIM and Sonology. For this purpose proper methodical documentation of the project will be developed. 

At the end of the first year an evaluation will take place, providing the basis for admittance into the second year of the program.

Candidates for the master’s degree are expected to deliver a public performance / presentation of their work along with an accompanying thesis. Attaining the degree will depend upon the level achieved in the overall project, the quality of the thesis and the command and proficiency with the topics and its context at the final defense.