SONIFIKATION - Sounds of the City (2021)
Composition for environmental sounds, 5 music robots and 8 musicians by Sebastian Gramss

WDR3 Production – Open Sounds 12/06/2021
Listen now!

Escalators, bridge traffic, ice rink? Sounds like the city. For most people, this is associated with unpleasant noise. It is also noisy in open-plan offices, zoos and airports. But there are also musical qualities for those who are sensitive to noise. At the latest when a creative mind like the double bass player Sebastian Gramss uses electronic methods to turn his recordings of Cologne sounds into material for precise self-playing instruments. And when these musical robots (from the Logos Foundation in Flanders) interact with a hand-picked ensemble from the Cologne music scene, we reach the next level of urban polyphony. The soundscapers have only miked and interpreted the city differently, but the important thing is to change it.

Michael Heupel – flutes
Shannon Barnett – trombone
Leonhard Huhn – saxophone, bass clarinet
Elisabeth Coudoux – cello
Philip Zoubek – piano, prep. piano, moog
Sebastian Gramss – double bass, moog
Carl Ludwig Hübsch – tuba
Etienne Nillesen – prepared snare

Robot instruments:
SO – Sousaphone – music robot (by the Logos Foundation Ghent / BE)
FA – Bassoon – music robot (by the Logos Foundation Ghent / BE)
PER – Percussion – music robot (by the Logos Foundation Ghent / BE)
Moog – polyphonic synth robot
Yamaha Disklavier – player piano

Composer: Sebastian Gramss
Redaktion: Markus Heuger
Moderation: Johannes Zink

Mixture: Sebastian Gramss / Stefan Deisler / Ana Lakcevic
Mastering: Sebastian Gramss / Topaz – Reinhard Kobialka / Johannes Grehl
Advice: Siegfried Saarberg (Association for the Blind and Art e.V.)
Producers: Sebastian Gramss & Ana Lakcevic

Recording dates:
Field recordings: January 2019 to September 2020
Music recordings: April 2020 to November 2020
Mix + Master: February 2021
Production 2021


Four human and four robotic musicians playing together.

A challenge: What happens when intuition, impulsiveness and emotionality meet algorithms, deep learning and programmed codes?

The HUMAN ROBOTIC ENSEMBLE attempts a dialogue at eye level. The
result is an encounter in which the boundaries between artificial intelligence
and human creativity blur. In which no distinction is made between what is felt, conceived, conceived by humans or analyzed, calculated and calculated by software. An encounter in which the joint audible result is clearly more than the sum of the individual parts.

The live interaction raises questions: How creative can robots be? How quickly do they “understand” and read the resulting musical situations? What can AI mean for our creativity
in the future? And: What does artificial intelligence actually sound like? In the interaction of man and machine, a joint piece of music full of autonomous creativity develops ¬- respectfully, attentively and with subtle depth.

Human Musicians:
Lotte Anker – Soprano Sax.
Nicola L. Hein – Guitar
Sebastian Gramss – Double Bass
Philip Zoubek – Piano

Robotic Musicians:
Helio (Logos Foundation)
Vitello (Logos Foundation)
Tubo (Logos Foundation)
Yamaha Disklavier

Software / Composition: Nicola L. Hein
Concept / Composition: Sebastian Gramss

Project Management: Hanna Behr
Robot Engineering: Godfried-Willem Raes (
Robot Support: Kristof Lauwers

Premiere: October 3rd, 2020, Kunststation St. Peter, Cologne

Supported by: Musikfonds, Kulturstiftung des Bundes, NRW Kultursekretariat, Ministerium für Kultur und Wissenschaft NRW



Parkour is actually a sporty, artistic discipline where athletes, regardless of structural conditions and obstacles, are able to cross a city on a direct route. The bassist and bandleader Sebastian Gramss follows the same principle. He moves across the map through sound routes on which he samples ambient sounds and prepares them as playing material for jazz quintet and music robots. An acoustic site visit, which dissolves from postcard views and road traffic regulations and even opens up new, hidden perspectives on the native city of Cologne.

States of Play trio:
Dominik Mahnig – Drums
Philip Zoubek – Prepared Piano, Moog
Sebastian Gramss – Double bass / Composition

Michel Godard (F) – Tuba
Philipp Gropper – Tenorsaxophon
Kristof Lauwers (B) – Robot instruments

Robot instruments:
FA – Robotic Bassoon
SO – Automated Sousaphone
PER – Suspended Drumkit
DISKLAVIER player piano

Robot instruments by LOGOS Foundation (Ghent / BE).