Hans Tammen likes to set sounds in motion, and then sit back to watch the movements unfold. Using textures, timbre and dynamics as primary elements, his music is continuously shifting, with different layers floating into the foreground while others disappear. Whether richly processed guitar sounds from his hybrid interactive guitar/software instrument Endangered Guitar, traditionally notated material for his Third Eye Chamber Orchestra, or graphically notated elements for the all-electronic Dark Circuits Orchestra, his music flows like clockwork, “transforming a sequence of instrumental gestures into a wide territory of semi-hostile discontinuity; percussive, droning, intricately colorful, or simply blowing your socks off” (Touching Extremes).



Photo: Jörg Steinmetz

He calls his guitar work Endangered Guitar because of the extreme alterations he enacts upon his instrument’s sound and construction, resulting in a hybrid guitar/software instrument made to interactively control live sound processing. Signal To Noise called his works “…a killer tour de force of post-everything guitar damage”, All Music Guide recommended him: “…clearly one of the best experimental guitarists to come forward during the 1990s.”

His Third Eye Orchestra compositions for large ensembles and live sound processing are inspired by Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew period and Earle Brown’s approach to form. All About Jazz called the music “nothing short of breathtaking”, and “a masterpiece of musical evocation”, AvantMusicNews the orchestra’s performance at the 2015 Victoriaville Festival “a thrilling 75-minute display that combined individual virtuosity in a cohesive and fun-filled framework.”

The Dark Circuits Orchestra is a large ensemble devoted to contemporary electronic instrument practices such as circuit bending, no-input mixers, laptops, turntablism, analogue circuitry, controllerism and network sniffers, and has received generous grants from MapFund and NYSCA. He has been the director of the Dark Circuits Festivals 2014 and 2017, the latter focusing on light artists using A/V synths, lightbulbs, LED structures, fluorescent lights and other bizarre visuals.

Numerous projects include site-specific performances and collaborative efforts with dance, light, video, and theater, having used technology from planetarium projectors and guitar robots to disklavier pianos and chaos-synths.

His works have been presented at festivals in the US, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, India, South Africa, the Middle East and all over Europe. He has recorded on labels such as Clang, Innova, ESP-DISK, Nur/Nicht/Nur, Gold Bolus, NachtstückCreative Sources, Leo RecordsPotlatch and Outnow.

Hans Tammen received grants and composer commissions from NewMusicUSA,  Chamber Music AmericaMAPFund, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, American Music Center, Lucas Artists Residencies Montalvo, New York State Council On The Arts (NYSCA), New York Foundation For The Arts (NYFA), American Composers Forum w/ Jerome Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Funds, New York State Music Fund, Goethe Institute w/ Foreign Affairs Office, among others.

Hans Tammen is currently teaching at School of Visual Arts and other colleges. From 2001 to 2014 he worked at Harvestworks Digital Media Art Center in NYC, where he was responsible for the Client Services, Education and Artist In Residence program, helping countless digital media artists through completion of their works. As an arbitrator at BTQ in the 1990s, he spent a decade advising unions about electronic monitoring and surveillance at the workplace, and negotiating contracts and agreements to minimize surveillance aspects. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Kassel, studying on a stipend from Friedrich Ebert Foundation.


Tammen, H: Conflict Of Interest - A Personal Genetic Data Sonfication, in: Sonifikation: Transfer ins Musikalische / Sonification: Transfer into Musical Arts, Program book for the Sonification Festival by BGNM, Hofheim: Wolke, 2017.

Tammen, H.: Case Study - The Endangered Guitar, in: Bovermann, T. and de Campo, A. and Egermann, H. and Hardjowirogo, S. and Weinzierl, S. (ed.): Musical Instruments in the 21st century --- Identities, Configurations, Practices, Springer 2016

Naphtali, D. and Tammen, H.: A View On Improvisation From The Kitchen Sink, in: Leonardo Music Journal Volume 20, 2010