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Our Research for Lost Route to Root


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Our research for lost route to root
Alain Bonardi, J´erˆome Barth´elemy, Raffaele Ciavarella, Guillaume Boutard
To cite this version:
Alain Bonardi, J´erˆome Barth´elemy, Raffaele Ciavarella, Guillaume Boutard. Our research
for lost route to root. ICMC’08, Aug 2008, Belfast, United Kingdom. pp.1-1, 2008. <hal-
HAL Id: hal-01161065
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Alain Bonardi, Jérôme Barthélemy, Raffaele Ciavarella, Guillaume Boutard
{alain.bonardi, jerome.barthelemy, raffaele.ciavarella, guillaume.boutard}
Alex Mikroyannidis, Bee Ong, Kia Ng
ICSRiM - University of Leeds
{alex,, kia}
In contemporary arts many non conventional
instruments, devices and technologies are used, so as
many new ways of man-machine interaction, to produce
new artistic works.When introducing electro-acoustics,
artists did not realize the risk not to be able to re-
perform their works just a few years later.In the
framework of CASPAR European project, the On Line
Services team at IRCAM proposes first results of the
research, conducted together with ICSRiM team at
University of Leeds, for trying to save artistic works
from obsolescence and to support future developments.
1.1. The root
During centuries music was written on paper and a
little part of what needed to re-perform the author's
intention was outside that paper.
Many kinds of performances, like jazz or folk, are
more styles than coded music.
This lets us consider that also social and cultural
environments, in which music is produced, have to be
studied in order to keep safe the tie to its origin.
In this case, re-performance possibilities are not
crucial for the purpose of preservation and recordings,
together with social environment trackings, can fully
satisfy the need for documentation [1].
At about the middle of the last century a new era for
arts, and especially for music, started.
Figure 1. Francois Bayle performing at Acousmonium,
invented in 1974.
Many experiments were done on the structure of the
sound and time, and really new possibilities were offered
to arts.
Due to the rapid growth of technologies, electronic
devices became affordable and available not only in
specialized structures but even to home end-user.
Computer and software permitted all people to have
high quality virtual instruments as well as completely
new ones.
The use of hardware and expecially software devices
introduced a great degree of freedom for composers and
artists, but the price payed was the very short life time of
those devices and the wide spread of used solutions.
Considering electronics as musical instruments and
modeling an interaction with human in artistic works, a
new paradigm of notation was also required.
While in traditional notation the meaning was written
and final effect was coded in the score, for complex
contemporary works there is no adequate notation and
the only saved data are the specific way used to obtain
the result (the process itself) but not the intentions.
Because of the very quick changes in technology and
market devices, now we live also a paradoxical situation:
electro-acoustic works, that are very recent, are facing
serious problems [2] not present in traditional works.
The core problem seems to be time dependency: the
most difficult to be solved.
1.2. The route
Preservation of music has been studied for many years
on a wide range of manuscripts and instruments, while
the sustainability of live electronics is a recent interest,
more complex and with a lot of missing informations:
more and more difficult to obtain.
Because of this complexity and of many scientific
underlying issues, adequate new methodologies have to
be applied.
A European project named CASPAR1 (Cultural,
Artistic, and Scientific Knowledge for Preservation,
Access and Retrieval) has been launched in 2006,
bringing together 17 partners, including IRCAM, on the
general topic of preservation of digital data.
This project intends to address three different
communities, by developing three different testbeds: one
for scientific knowledge, one for cultural heritage, and
one for performing arts.
Inside the performing arts scenario we developed a
base architecture on witch to build stand alone open
tools, specialized for analysis, feature extraction,
documentation and monitoring
The target of our research are software modules, used
for various activities as signal processing or symbolic
calculation, for production and performance common to
all arts (music, dance, theatre, video, interactive
installations, etc).
Either hardware or software, active modules provide
control and signal processing functions.
Nowadays musicians use intensively graphical
languages, like Max/MSP, PureData [3] or Reaktor, to
implement almost any required process.
Several strategies have been evaluated to face
sustainability and re-performance requirements of works
based on those environments.
From one hand, the simplest way to make an artistic
work re-performable is to keep safe all what was used in
the first performance, including the knowledge to do
This strategy leads to the institution of a kind of
“museum of artistic works” and needs all the related
cares (including maintenance, periodic test of devices,
periodic retraining of technical personnel, etc.).
On the other hand, the best solution would be to save
only the meaning that is inside an artistic work, so that it
could be re-performed at any time with the technology of
the moment.
This approach introduces to the use of new languages
needed to describe artistic works [4] and doesn't solve
the problem of the already produced works.
In the same perspective, some researchers have
explored mathematical formalization of signal
processing [5].
Often, especially for the early works, people involved
in the performance were specifically trained and all the
informations where transmitted orally.
Nowadays some authors, performers and technicians
are no longer available to reconstruct the original
This lack of contents makes it impossible to
“translate” intentions automatically into a virtual
So the strategy is, maybe, the best one for future
productions, but only a partial solution for the whole
Part of the effort of our research is in the direction of
defining significant indicators and developing tools to
extract then from existing works.
Many of the instruments for this purpose are still to be
Figure 2. The simplified schema of the digital
implementation for an artistic work.
Between the first strategy, conservative, and the
second, innovative, some other ways can be followed.
One way may be to virtualize the hardware, using
emulators, and leaving the original software untouched.
This is a good result because the re-performance will
use the most recent available hardware, but needs to
develop an emulator for every used device of the past
and does not solve the problem of knowledge about
Another way is to port the artistic work on more recent
environments every time the last used is near to become
This solution only delays the problem but does not
solve it, in fact, the author must be part of every new
porting process.
Generally he introduces changes into the new work.
So, a new artistic work is generated and it has to be
preserved as well.
Finally, is to be considered the so called “problem of
It means that every time we modify something into an
existing artistic work, we have to prove that the new
product is equivalent to the original.
This can be achieved using specific authentication
processes based on standard methodology, with absolute
physical measures and throw the intervention of
reference validators (authors, performers, musical
assistants, etc.) [6].
3.1. Structure tools
We have developed a set of tools, named Patcher Tools,
based on a parser of Max/MSP modules that make
available the whole structure of a patch and its sub-
As an instance, let us consider the Max/MSP patch of
Jupiter, composed by Philippe Manoury in 1987.
This work, for flute and live electronics, is regularly
performed since its creation.
Figure 3. A screenshot of the main patch of Jupiter
Looking at figure 4, that represents the top patch, the
boxes in the left column are sub-patches.
All together they make a sort of electronic orchestra:
reverb is the module of reverberation, fshift is the
frequency shifter (a signal process that adds and
subtracts a certain frequency to the fundamental of the
input signal), and so on.
The horizontal series of buttons, from 0 to 13, at the
top of the patch, enable the user to trigger the beginning
of the corresponding sections into the score.
Other boxes are for instance faders to adjust sound
levels (input and output) or start/stop buttons.
Within the development program is not possible to
have an overview of the whole hierarchy of patches.
That is the first reason for which we developed the
PatcherMap tool.
Other important features of this tool is the ability to
check the set of resources required inside the patch.
Figure 4 shows various lists: on the left, the list of
abstractions (all the required files), the list of externals
(third-party objects), the list of missing references
(referenced but not found patches), the list of script files
used, and the list of data files.
In the centre of the window, the hierarchy is displayed
as a tree, with the possibility of showing only a part of it
(limiting the depth or the width to be displayed).
Figure 4. A screenshot of the PatcherMap application
showing the hierarchy of modules of Jupiter.
3.2. Repository tools
Some of the artistic contemporary works are stored
into existent repositories [7], some others are still
resident in private archives, for some we don't know
Externals components (the libraries used in several
artistic works) need to be documented adding some
further features (version, date of last update, etc.), and
informations on their behaviour.
For the purpose of bringing all together we have
developed a specific repository that is based on a portal
architecture and we have provided it with several
specialized portlets.
The repository would be a media to store objective
informations, as the features stated before, to collect
external sources and to grab some subjective
informations from users community.
The last ones ideally should be handled by musical
assistants, through one or several wiki portlets, that will
store informations such as migration informations
(heuristics...), comparisons, comments and so on.
Figure 5. A screenshot of the portal for components
In addition to the information provided, queries on the
contents will be possible for the purpose of localization
of newer versions of a component, or versions of the
same component on a different operating system, as an
Hash values will be provided in order to enable precise
identification of the required components.
The repository is thought to make it possible to
analyse texts stored, collected now as comments, in
order to build thesauruses, dictionaries of terms, and
relationships between entities.
These elements will enable to build specialized
ontology of digital instruments.
3.3. Display tools
The hierarchy provided by structure tools can be
displayed using any standard tool.
The purpose is to express informations in the most
convenient form for users understanding.
As an example, figure 7 shows a different way to
present the structure of Jupiter.
Figure 6. A screenshot of GraphViz, a standard open source
These tools may be used to have an overview of
patches during their reimplementation but also for the
evaluation of scenarios complexity, as an example.
3.4. Software engineering tools
Among the tools developed we can distinguish two
different classes: the ones for static code analysis and the
others for run-time performance diagnosis.
The static code analysis class of tools is intended to
provide, in structured schemes, further informations
about the inside of an artistic work, including
environment description, project structure, file structure
and catalogs for libraries (see figure 8).
We developed an “intelligent” code coverage analysis
technique, we are using it to identify code holes, lacks of
consistency, complexity and styles of writing.
All the collected informations will be fit into the
repository and will be available as meta-data of the
Figure 7. A screenshot of static analysis IDE.
The run-time class of tools will provide the way for
both adequate dimensioning of hardware and monitoring
all aspects of performances.
Based on professional profilers technology, they
monitor global parameters like memory and CPU, but
can furnish detailed values on every function running
inside the project (number of instances, parameters
passing overhead, memory usage, CPU usage, etc. as
shown in figure 9).
Tools are specially oriented to musical or graphical
processing, so directly provide control over complex
structures like buses, pipe-lines and special data formats.
Figure 8. A screenshot of profiler, a dynamic analysis tool.
Thanks to the open architecture at the base of our
solution, many other tools can be developed for
cooperation in the future.
Sharing the large amount of meta-data available for
the archived works and enriching them with the
important experience of users, we will be able to make
contemporary arts safe from obsolescence and usable, so
really still alive.
Only the first part of the job has been done and we
have to make a large amount of further research to let
informations «friendly» and their retrival as simple as
Hopefully we will also be able to supply future
developements with usefull and efficient guidelines: this
is the way we have thought to have always straight
routes to our roots.
Work partially supported by European Community
under the Information Society Technologies (IST)
programme of the 6th FP for RTD - project CASPAR
contract IST-033572.
The authors are solely responsible for the content of
this paper.
It does not represent the opinion of the European
Community, and the European Community is not
responsible for any use that might be made of data
appearing therein.
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International Sound and Music Computing
Conference, Salerno, Italy, 2005.
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Realizations of Standard Pieces for Instruments and
Live Electronics. In Proceedings of the International
Computer Music Conference, Miami, 2004.
[4] Music Notation Journal, Fall, 1986, 4(2) pp. 47-48.
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2002, Göteborg, Sweden, 2002.
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Electroacoustic Music: the InterPARES Project. In
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Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper discusses interactive multimedia framework and tools that have been developed under the i-Maestro EC IST project ( for technology-enhanced music education, and focuses on one of the applications which explores 3D motion capture data for real-time analysis and feedback to support the learning processes. The multi-modal data (3D motion, sensor, audio and video) captured with the system offers a more complete and more detailed description of a musical performance. Another project, CASPAR (Cultural, Artistic and Scientific knowledge for Preservation, Access and Retrieval - which is developing a framework for digital preservation uses the multi-modal data for the contemporary arts ?est-bed in order to offer musicologist of the future a better records and description of the playing style and interpretation that may not be easily extracted/understood from a video recording.
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We propose an algebraic approach to block diagram construction as an alternative to the classical graph ap-proach inspired by dataflow models. The proposed al-gebra is based on three binary operations of construc-tion : sequential, parallel and recursive constructions. These operations can be seen as high level connection schemes that set several connections at once in order to combine two block diagrams to form a new one. Al-gebraic representations have interesting application for visual languages based on block diagrams and are use-ful to specify the formal semantic of this languages.
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ABSTRACT Real‐time/performed electro‐acoustic music (also known as live electro‐acoustic music) is currently facing a se- rious sustainability problem: while its production is in- deed considered very recent from the music history point of view, several technological generations and revolutions have gone by in the meantime. Thus, most of these works can hardly be performed,because the technologies used have gone lost since a long time and no long-standing no- tational precaution was taken. This paper presents some typical case studies and examples,and introduces some techniques that might lead to a partial ‐ when,not com- pletely adequate ‐ solution to the sustainability problem.
Full-text available
We describe here our efforts to make it easier to per- form certain well-known pieces from the live elec- tronic music repertory, without resorting to special hardware or proprietary software. We hope that these realizations of the electronic parts of the pieces will be longer-lasting than previous realizations have been, and that they will make it possible to perform the music with a much smaller investment in time and equipment than before. �Reprinted from Proceedings, ICMC 2001. to musicologists. Second, they will serve as a model showing how one might realize pieces involving real- time electronics in a less ephemeral way than is now often the practice. Finally, we hope to attain a higher level of audio quality than in previous realizations. The new realizations are based on generic hardware running Linux. Our choice of Linux was made on the basis of the great stability of the "*nix" operating systems in time (many programs from the early 80s still compile and run today), and also because we have found Linux particularly well adapted to real-
Conference Paper
The promise of recent technological and legislative developments to facilitate the digital dissemination of music is undermined by the lack of reliable means to preserve accurate copies of digital files: music that can be easily transmitted and played back today may not be retrievable tomorrow. Preserving interactive music compositions is particularly problematic, as their performance typically relies on a variety of specialized components. We describe the planned research activities of MUSTICA, an international team of archivists, information scientists, and musicologists that seeks to develop tools to guide the preservation and presentation of interactive digital musical compositions in accordance with the standards and strategies for electronic records preservation being developed by MUSTICA's parent research initiative, InterPARES 2.
Record Keeping Practices of Composers, a survey
  • M Longton
Longton, M. 2004. Record Keeping Practices of Composers, a survey (revised in 2004). InterPares 2
Preserving Authentic Electroacoustic Music: the InterPARES Project
  • J Roeder
Roeder, J. 2006. Preserving Authentic Electroacoustic Music: the InterPARES Project. In Proceedings of the IAML-IASA Congress 2006, Oslo, Norway, 2006.
Sustainable Live Electro-acoustic Music
  • N Bernardini
  • A Vidolin
Bernardini, N., and Vidolin, A. 2005. Sustainable Live Electro-acoustic Music. In Proceedings of the International Sound and Music Computing Conference, Salerno, Italy, 2005.
An Algebra for Block Diagram Languages
  • Y Orlarey
  • D Fober
  • S Letz
Orlarey, Y., Fober, D., Letz, S. 2002. An Algebra for Block Diagram Languages. In Proceedings of International Computer Music Conference ICMA 2002, Göteborg, Sweden, 2002.