Knut Wiggen (1927–2016) is not a household name in music technology, despite the fact that he developed cutting-edge technology during the 1960s and early 1970s in Stockholm, as leader of both the concert organisation Fylkingen and the Electronic Music Studio (EMS). In the international literature on computer music, this development has only been mentioned in passing, if at all. However, EMS and the general development has been discussed in Scandinavian texts,1 but the links between Knut Wiggen’s technical achievements and his far-reaching ambitions for the music of the future, and how this vision aligned with philosophy and research at the time, have not been the focus. Hartenstein (2011) provides insights into Wiggen’s personal intentions and philosophy, and does not go much into technical detail, Groth (2010) focuses principally on the politics and aesthetic differences and subsequent conflicts at EMS, and although an overview of the EMS technology is provided, it is not always made clear how innovative it was. In Broman (2007), the broader lines of electroacoustic musical development are in focus.
Wiggen combined social and political concerns with technical insight, and his overarching conviction of how a new art was necessary as a counterweight to mute consumerism is unique in computer music. The aim of this article is to describe and explain the coherency of Wiggen’s achievements, his philosophy, his use of current technological advances and research and his development of a new method for composing the music of the future. In order to support this focus, mainly primary sources have been used,2 however, the literature mentioned above has been consulted due to its use of interview data and other personal communication not commonly available. A degree of duplication of information has been required for the narrative not to suffer.
The article will show that Wiggen was a visionary pioneer who has a natural place among such computer music luminaries as Max Mathews, Jean-Claude Risset, John Chowning, Iannis Xenakis, Peter Zinovieff and others from the same generation.