background image
DigiCULT
.
Info
21
appropriate those elements s/he is interest-
ed in, through an individual, singular and
unpredictable process.
T
he IRCAM Hypermedia Studio aims
to provide tools for these purposes,
based on technological experiments direct-
ed by users: musicologists, composers,
music lovers. In particular, the project of
Signed Listenings, launched in 2003, strives
to propose instruments for personal listen-
ing purposes. Specialists of different types
of musical listening are asked to imagine,
using commercially available or IRCAM-
designed technology, a representation of
their individual way of perceiving a given
piece or corpus.With the help of an engi-
neer and a musicologist, each one authors
a hypermedia mock-up
24
with the follow-
ing characteristics:
it exemplifies both a way to listen to,
and a way to analyse, music;
it allows the end listener to reproduce
and/or alter the author's manipulations
of the musical material (synchronisation,
annotation, semi-automatic analysis of
the signal, of the musical structures etc.),
thereby becoming an author in his or
her own right.
D
uring the first stages of the project,
this has been achieved by providing
cross-links between related objects through
their related metadata; the library record
for a score provides links to the online
biography of the composer and a docu-
mentary note about the piece, which in
turn can link to all available online record-
ed versions, both from the IRCAM audio
archives and commercial CDs.
T
he increased availability of off-the-
shelf multimedia authoring tools has,
therefore, allowed for the creation of high-
er-level integrated objects, such as musico-
logical analyses (text, audio, diagrams),
interactive score-and-performance presen-
tations,Websites and so on all based on
the existence of the underlying sound
archive and the ready availability of its
material.
T
he question of the digital availability
of these cultural contents within a
technological context can be re-addressed
nowadays in order to integrate usability in
better and novel ways. Providing access to
collections means not only making them
available through structured and adaptive
digitisation, but also allowing the user to
FROM PRESERVATION TO ACCESS
A
ll IRCAM performances (concerts,
conferences) have been recorded
since the late 1970s by the Production
department, first on analogue, then on dig-
ital tapes for archival purposes. After the
Multimedia Library system became opera-
tional and an adequate agreement was
signed with the appropriate music rights
societies, the following steps were added
to provide for both digital preservation
and access to these hitherto sealed archives:
1. Transfer to a mixed-mode CD
23
:
each tape is transferred (by means of
digitisation in the case of old tapes) to
one or several audio tracks of a writable
CD; the description of the event in a
structured form is written in a com-
puter-readable file in the first (data)
track of the CD.
2. For each tape, two identical CDs are
produced. One is archived, the other is
transferred to the Multimedia Library.
3. The audio contents of the latter CD
are extracted, compressed and transferred
to the online area.The description con-
tents are imported into the appropriate
database.
4. The online metadata is then verified,
validated and cross-linked with appropri-
ate online resources.
A
s a result of this process, every docu-
ment that is archived is made available
online.We are currently developing various
automation strategies for the last two steps
above so as to facilitate retrospective online
transfer of archives.
FROM ACCESS TO INDIVIDUAL
APPROPRIATION
W
hile books in a library are at least
contextualised by their neigh-
bours on the shelf, the issue of `nearness'
acquires a different meaning in the digital
space; objects can have many neighbours
with whom they can be put in context,
either manually, automatically or both.
Figure 3. Signed Listening of an electronic music loop by Andrea Cera.The loop is manually
decomposed into several audio layers, representing (as in sequencers) along the time (horizontal) axis
the impacts. Some of the lines can be masked (here, the 5th one), so as to allow one to focus on
other parts of the loop. Some operations such as slowing down can be used to refine the listening
and synchronize it with the transcription. A condensed view of a phrase is inferred (in the right
half) from the initial transcription.The simultaneous representation of several layers (bottom lines)
allows one to search for and characterize implicit regularities in the transcription.
23 A compact disc which comprises audio and data tracks.
24 These are not necessarily functional objects, but models of what a finalised tool should look like after adequate
development, allowing experts to test their ideas visually and aurally in a collaborative way.
IRCAM 2003