Associated Artists
Research_Institute -
  Paris France
Since its conception, IRCAM has been the birth place for many of the most important concepts for electronic music and audio processing. John Chowning did much of his pioneering work on FM Synthesis at IRCAM, and the real-time audio processing graphical programming environment Max/MSP and many of its derivatives such as jMax, were developed there. Max/MSP has subsequently become one of the most widely used tools in electroacoustic music. Many of the techniques associated with spectralism, such as analyses based on Fast Fourier Transforms, were only made practical by the technological clout of IRCAM. IRCAM also developed a special microphone capable of isolating each of the cello's four strings for separate amplification or electronic treatment. While IRCAM continues to produce many innovations, its role at the world's central music laboratory was lessened with the rise of cheaper electronics from Japan, which put complex audio computing within the reach of smaller institutions. IRCAM provides classes to train composers in music technology, and selects established composers to work within an unusual model; Composers who do not have programming experience to create the technology end of a piece for ensemble and electronics are provided with an assistant, who helps them to realize technically intensive parts of the piece. For example, the assistant will follow the conceptual advice of a composer with no technology experience to realize a computer part, or will help a composer who can program in Max/MSP to make their "patch" more efficient and elegant. Tristan Murail's Désintégrations is an example of a piece realized in this program by a composer with significant technological skill, whereas Harrison Birtwistle's Mask of Orpheus required an active and creative role for the technology assistants, such as Barry Anderson and Ian Dearden.
Bibliographic Refs