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DigiCULT
.
Info
19
tribution as well as online access, and, in
due course, the modes of listening, both
professional and amateur.We are therefore
working on tools for computer-assisted
music composition as instruments of
description, indexation and representation
of musical sounds, including means of
genetic traceability of the works, among
other things.We are also developing instru-
ments for musicological analysis, as well as
an authoring environment for producing
personalised formalised and transmissible
`signed listenings' of a musical piece (by a
musicologist, teacher, conductor or musi-
cian), to be used as listening guides or a
graphical track on a musical DVD to be
used in the HiFi appliances of tomorrow.
In addition, we are putting together a
Web radio channel, which will allow
access to these analyses as well as to
music as it is being created or the
avant-première production.
I
t is within this new context that the
IRCAM multimedia library has evolved
into a laboratory and become part of a
wider project about new lutherie, at the
heart of which is the digital document.
record buyer-consumer does not need to
know anything about music in order to lis-
ten to it, nor share with the music producer-
composer any instrumental or formal,
practical or theoretical knowledge. He can-
not read or play music any more; his ears
have no eyes and hands, as it were. He is
nescient.
D
igitisation has brought about a major
change in the fundamentals of the
whole process, and therefore constitutes a
vast opportunity for change, in particular
with respect to music, and even more so
learned music, and this concerns us directly
at IRCAM
16
(http://www.ircam.fr).
IRCAM IN THE DIGITAL AGE
T
his thesis, put forth by Glenn Gould
as early as 1966, has led us to redefine
at IRCAM the policy of production, use
and broadcast of digitised documents, and
in particular of sound documents. It
doubtlessly affects the process of music cre-
ation; the issue of digitisation is therefore
not just a question of patrimonial archival
and collection production or of access
modes, but a reinvention of the whole
field of lutherie (or instrument-making).
I
RCAM is thus in transition from the
age of computer music to that of music
creation in the era of generalised digitisa-
tion, which will affect, among other things,
home HiFi systems, media for offline dis-
B
ERNARD
S
TIEGLER
,
M
ICHAEL
F
INGERHUT
,
N
ICOLAS
D
ONIN
I
NSTITUT DE
R
ECHERCHE ET DE
C
OORDINATION
A
COUSTIQUE
/M
USIQUE
14
D
omestic and institutional archiving
and dissemination of texts, images
and sound (as well as 3D representations,
haptic sequences and so on) have been
deeply affected by the advent of digitisa-
tion, which has opened up vistas unfore-
seeable a few decades ago, mainly due to
its potential of quasi-infinite perfect repro-
duction (sometimes called `hyper-repro-
ducibility'). Digitisation has indeed
induced a profound breach in the technol-
ogy of memory from the way in which it
had emerged in the industrial age, in par-
ticular regarding music.
A
t the turn of the nineteenth century, the
development of analogue reproduction
­ in particular the phonograph ­ allowed for
the establishment and development of a
powerful record industry which made possi-
ble widespread access to music of all kinds
(including music directly derived from this
technology, such as jazz, or reinvented by the
record industry, such as baroque music).The
separation between artistic production and
cultural consumption has had very positive
effects: a large public ­ at least in the indus-
trialised world ­ has acquired a vast (if shal-
low in places) knowledge of music history
and its cultural diversity.
H
owever, in turn, reproducibility has
also caused a huge regression in the
musical audition capacity of this public: the
T
HE
IRCAM D
IGITAL
S
OUND
A
RCHIVE IN
C
ONTEXT
`As limited as it is, the manipula-
tion of dials and buttons is an act of
interpretation. Forty years ago, a lis-
tener could only turn his turntable
on or off, and maybe, if it was an
advanced model, adjust the volume
somewhat.The variety of controls
available nowadays requires a capac-
ity for analytical judgment.Yet these
controls are still very primitive in
comparison with the means of par-
ticipation that will be offered to the
listener when the current very
sophisticated techniques still in the
labs are integrated into domestic
appliances'.
15
14 Bernard Stiegler is a philosopher and the director of IRCAM. Michael Fingerhut, mathematician and computer
scientist, is the director of the IRCAM Multimedia Library and its Engineering Bureau. Nicolas Donin, a musicologist,
is head of the Formulation du Musical research team.
15 Glenn Gould, `Idées' (1966) in Bruno Monsaingeon Le dernier puritain (Fayard, 1983), p. 88.Translated from the French
by the authors of this paper.
16 Institut de recherche et de coordination acoustique/musique, founded in 1976, is a not-for-profit organisation and an
associate department of the Centre Pompidou (the French national centre for arts and culture).