DIMI Synthesizers

The DIMI synthesizers were designed by Finnish electronic music pioneer Erkki Kurenniemi in 1970. He created a number of early electronic instruments using original control methods. The DIMI-A was the first in the range standing for ‘Digital Music Instrument – Associative Memory’ essentially an early sampler. The DIMI-O or ‘Optical Organ’ displayed the musical notes via a screen and also had a video camera that could be used to convert movements into sound. The Dimi-S or ‘Sexophone’ was an instrument used by four players each wearing handcuffs and wires. Musical tones were generated as the players touched each other. The electrical resistance between the players was measured and ‘with increasing skin moisture and contact area, the intensity of the music increased’!


The Dimi-T or ‘Electroencephalophone‘ measured the EEG signals from the user’s earlobes. The signal was ‘amplified, band-pass filtered and used to frequency modulate a voltage-controlled oscillator’.

The original idea was to build four of these instruments, and let the musicians to go to sleep while hearing each other’s generated sounds. During sleep there appears in the EEG slow high-amplitude delta waves, and short duration ‘sleep spindles’. Would the brain waves of the sleeping players get synchronized? This test was never made.

The last in the seires was the Dimi-6000, an analog voltage controlled synthesizer using an Intel 8008 microproccessor. An article written by Kurenniemi ‘History of Dimi Instruments‘ which came out with a DVD called ‘The Dawn of DIMI‘. Although there are some short video demonstrations online.

One Response to “DIMI Synthesizers”

  1. April 14th, 2010 | 2:05 pm

    You can view Pan Sonic and Erkki Kurenniemi playing one in this video:


Leave a reply