HaLaPhon & Luigi Nono


The HaLaPhon, developed by Hans Peter Haller at SWR in the 70s and 80s, is a device for spatialized performances of mixed music, and live electronics. The first version was a fully analog design, whereas the following ones used analog signal processing with digital control. The HaLaPhon principle is based on digitally controlled amplifiers (DCA), which are placed between a source signal and loudspeakers. It is thus a channel-based-panning paradigm. Source signals can be tape or microphones:


DCA (called 'Gate') in the HaLaPhon.

Each DCA can be used with an individual characteristic curve for different applications:


DCA: Different characteristic curves.

Quadraphonic Rotation

A simple example shows how the DCAs can be used to realize a rotation in a quadraphonic setup:


Circular movement with four speakers.


Quadraphonic setup with four DCAs.


The digital process control of the HaLaPhon generates control signals, referred to as envelopes by Haller. Envelopes are generated through LFOs with the following waveforms:


Circular movement with four speakers.

Envelopes for each loudspeaker gain are synchronized in the control unit, resulting in movement patterns. These can be stored on the device and triggered by the sound director or by signal analysis:


Quadraphonic setup with four DCAs.


Haller worked with various composers at SWR. His work with Luigi Nono, especially the ambituous Prometeo, showed new ways of working with the live spatialization of mixed music. The HaLaPhon's source movements could be triggered and controlled by audio inputs, thus merging sound and space more directly.


Construction for 'Prometeo' in San Lorenzo (Venice).


Sketch of spatial sound movements in 'Prometeo'.



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