New York born (1954) and raised, Nicolas Collins studied composition with Alvin Lucier at Wesleyan University, worked for many years with David Tudor, and was an active participant in the New York improvised music scene in the 1980s. He spent most of the 1990s in Europe, where he was Visiting Artistic Director of Stichting STEIM (Amsterdam), and a DAAD Composer-in-Residence in Berlin. From 1997 - 2017 he was Editor-in-Chief of the Leonardo Music Journal. Since 1999 has been a Professor in the Department of Sound at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and since 2016 a Research Fellow at the Orpheus Instituut (Ghent).
Collins was Edgard Varèse Guest Professor in Computer Music at the Technische Universität Berlin (2013-14); David Tudor Composer–in-Residence at Mills College (Oakland, CA) (2013); Visiting Professor at Instituto de Música of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Santiago) (2014); and has been a visiting artist and lecturer in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North and South America.
Collins’ music is rooted in the homemade circuitry movement that developed in the USA in the early 1970s under the influence of pioneering composer/luthiers such as David Tudor, David Behrman, and Gordon Mumma. His book, Handmade Electronic Music – The Art of Hardware Hacking (Routledge 2006), helped launch the “post-digital” DIY circuit movement, and has influenced emerging electronic music worldwide. Collins is also an early adopter of microcomputers for live performance, alternative musical controllers, interactive work for conventional acoustic instruments and electronics, and live video scoring.