Paul Pignon

From Unearthing The Music

Paul Pignon with the EMS Synthi 100 at the Electronic Music Studio of Radio Belgrade. Photo courtesy of Radio Belgrade 3

Paul Pignon (London, 5th May 1939) is a British Stockholm-based performer and composer. Settling in Yugoslavia in 1963, he studied composition with Vladan Radovanović and became a founding member of Radio Belgrade electronic music studio (1968).

He studied physics until 1962, when he began focusing exclusively on music, both as a composer and performer. He first became interested in music at the age of 15, when he began playing the clarinet, which, together with the saxophone, he has been playing ever since. While studying physics he took private harmony and counterpoint lessons. Settling in Yugoslavia in 1963, he studied composition privately with Vladan Radovanović. He became a founding member in 1968 of the Radio Belgrade electronic music studio, and he was on the staff there until moving to Sweden in 1983. He developed the Synthi 100 analog/digital synthesizer, for which he has also written the definitive manual. His duties at the studio also included teaching, liaison with technical staff, and assisting guest composers. He organised concerts, produced radio broadcasts of electro-acoustic music and did research into psychoacoustics, quantitative pitch analysis and speech spectral analysis. He also led the Interaction free jazz group.

Since 1983 he has been active at the Electronic Music Studio in Stockholm, developing digital signal processing on grants from the Swedish Institute, the Royal Academy of Music and the City of Stockholm. While still a physics student, Paul Pignon began composing and writing jazz arrangements, and until 1969 he composed only instrumental music for small ensembles, mostly using various serial techniques. Some of these pieces he still accepts: Nocturne for bassoon and guitar, Five Pieces for tenor and chamber ensemble to poems by the composer, Three Polymers for solo piano and Three Pieces for violin and piano. His interest in electronics was already aroused during boyhood, as a result of working in electronics laboratories during his school holidays. In the Radio Belgrade studio he was able to develop this interest in a musical direction as well. Apart from a good deal of incidental and signature music for radio and television, his output there also included several tape-recorded compositions which received honorary mentions at the Bourges Electronic Music Festival: Hendrix (1974) – influenced by the music of Jimi Hendrix but without aspiring to imitate it – and Microhabitat.

In 1986 moved to Sweden, composing and developing computer music software at EMS. Member of FST and Fylkingen. Producer at Fylkingen 1988-1992. Active as composer of electronic and instrumental works, and composer/performer on single reeds, didgeridoo, recorders, voice, laptop; currently with SQ, BONON, 2+ (with Liisa Pentti), Free Speech, The Great Learning Orchestra, and other combos. He is the Chairman of SEAMS, vice-chairman of Fylkingen and the initiator of The Pignon Agenda.


  1. Discogs Profile
  2. Unearthing the Music - Radio Belgrade 3 Podcast nº5