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IRIN: Micromontage in Graphical Sound Editing and Mixing Tool

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IRIN: Micromontage in Graphical Sound Editing and Mixing Tool

Abstract and Figures

Micromontage technique allows the composer to work a musical figure point by point, shaping each sound particle with microscopic precision. The software presented in this paper combines graphic and script editing with algorithmic generation and manipulation of sound sequences. It provides several tools to enhance both creation and organic development of the musical material under this compositional paradigm using a user-friendy visual environment.
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IRIN: Micromontage in Graphical Sound Editing and Mixing Tool
Carlos Caires
CICM – Centre de Recherche Informatique et Cr´
eation Musicale
Universit´
e de Paris VIII
carlos.caires@wanadoo.fr
2, Rue de la Libert´
e 93526 Saint Denis Cedex 02, France
Abstract
Micromontage technique allows the composer to work a
musical figure point by point, shaping each sound particle
with microscopic precision. The software presented in this
paper combines graphic and script editing with algorithmic
generation and manipulation of sound sequences. It pro-
vides several tools to enhance both creation and organic de-
velopment of the musical material under this compositional
paradigm using a user-friendy visual environment
1 Introduction
IRIN is a composition tool implemented as a Max/MSP
standalone (Zicarelli 1998), designed to enhance several com-
position operations enclosed in the micromontage paradigm1.
It uses a comprehensive user interface containing several edit-
ing windows allowing the composer to assemble, view, play-
back and modify several kinds of sound objects.
Generally speaking, micromontage technique consists of
the extraction of sound samples from sound files and then
rearranging them in time. Each extracted sound sample can
be multiplied and transformed through operations like speed
variation, filtering, panning and amplitude envelope editing
(Roads 2001). These very simple sound processing opera-
tions are typically enough to build a wide-ranging sound cat-
alogue. Chosen groups of samples from the pre-composed
catalogue are then arranged in time into more complex sound
structures on a higher time scale that can subsequently be also
transformed and multiplied through several variation opera-
tions (Vaggione 1995; Vaggione 1996). This kind of compo-
sitional approach calls for a working environment that is able
to keep track of all important sound operations. Taking into
1IRIN was presented for the first time as ”Mixage” (Caires 2003). Be-
sides introducing several new features, this version now runs under MacOs
X.
consideration that sound transformation, far from a mere “ef-
fect”, is an act of composition, a memory of all actions and re-
spective data involved within the process of creating the tini-
est sound particle is needed so that a consistent proliferation
of the musical material can be achieved. All data concerning
sound manipulation is therefore stored and accessed through
IRIN’s graphic interface. IRIN was designed to offer control
over micro-time and macro-time levels of composition, al-
lowing the composer to browse smoothly between them with
an analogous outlook towards musical material.
2 Basic IRIN features and use
The functioning of IRIN can be summarized as follows:
1. Load up to 16 Sound files of any size depending on the
available RAM.
2. From each sound Buffer, select a region and edit it in
several ways to obtain a Sample.
3. Place samples on any one of the 4 available tracks,
knowing that tracks are polyphonic and sound parame-
ters are a track independent feature.
4. Store edited Samples in a sample library. Every stored
Sample (in a track or in the library can be retrieved for
later use or further manipulation).
5. Encapsulate sound sequences into a Figure object and
submit them to several variation operations. Store Fig-
ures in a library.
6. Encapsulate up to 8 Figures into a Meso-structure ob-
ject and submit it to several variation operations. Store
the Meso-structures in a library.
7. Add customizable shapes and colours to every sample.
Shapes are used for display in the Timeline window on
“shapes view” mode.
Proceedings ICMC 2004
8. Control all operations graphically and use a Timeline
to place sound events in time.
9. Render the final result into a multi track audio file.
3 Classes
Concepts like cell, figure, counterpoint, polyphony, lay-
ers, background/foreground, variation/repetition, and so on,
are permanently involved in the process of composing, as
much in instrumental music as in electroacoustic music. IRIN
helps one to compose and organize sound material having
these kinds of concept in mind. Sound objects were organized
hierarchically into three different object classes: Sample, Fig-
ure, and Meso-structure. Each class inherits the properties
of its predecessor adding new ones belonging to the domain
of a higher time scale. Together, Sample, Figure and Meso-
structure objects form the pre-composition materials yet to be
organized into the macro-scale form of the piece. At the top
level, there is a fourth layer named Timeline. The Timeline
represents the “final” score where all objects (from the sam-
ple to the Meso-structure) are arranged in time to be played
back or exported as an audio file.
Figure 1: Tree-like representation of sound object dependen-
cies
3.1 Sample
The Sample is the simplest of IRIN’s sound objects. This
atomic object contains six properties editable from the Sam-
ple edit window (Figure 2):
Source sound file. The name of the file along with the sam-
ple start and end points.
Speed variation. Time-domain speed variation: changing
speed also changes pitch.
Filter. Implemented using Max/MSP biquad object (digital
filter specified by coefficients).
Amplitude envelope. Controlled by a breakpoint function
editor accepting up to 256 points.
Phase shift or multi channel trajectory. Depending on the
current audio output configuration one can choose to assign a
phase shift value 2, or edit a multi channel trajectory.
Shape. Each sample can be assigned to a preset graphic
shape of any color (shapes are used for display in the time-
line window on “shapes view” mode).
Figure 2: Sample editor window.
3.2 Figure
An array of Samples in a specific order, each one an-
chored to a specific onset time can be encapsulated in a Fig-
ure. Inside a Figure, the order of the events and their onsets
2Phase shifting in this context is used as a composition technique belong-
ing to the micro-scale domain (micro decorr´
elation temporelle). It concerns
the definition of spatial attributes of small sound particles by placing micro
delayed replica of it into different channels (Vaggione 2002b).
Proceedings ICMC 2004
are changeable. This means that each point of discontinuity is
a target for a compositional action (Schilingi 1998). Because
this class inherits the properties of the Sample class, each one
of the Sample properties described in the previous section is
also modifiable inside a Figure. Its edit window (Figure 3)
comprises several tools allowing a quick assignment of new
values for phase shift, speed variation and filtering to the en-
tire figure. Among them we can find two resizable multi-
slider panels for speed variation and phase shift edit, a break-
point filter editor to filter evolution within the Figure, several
reordering, scaling and reverse tools that can affect the whole
figure or just one of its attributes.
Figure 3: Figure Editor window.
A granulator is also available inside the Figure Editor.
It can be used to output a stream of a pre-defined number
of particles with a particular behaviour as regards the evolu-
tion of their properties. The evolution of the duration of its
Samples, of the distance between them, of their phase shift
and of their filtering can be set before outputting into a Fig-
ure object. Despite the use of the global laws strategy, the
Figure obtained can be then locally changed “by hand” since
each one of its elements is an instantiation of the Sample ob-
ject that, as previously mentioned, can be modified in several
ways. Direct manipulation, therefore, plays an essential role
in this context, since morphological properties of a given Fig-
ure (gestalt) arise from its local singularities (Vaggione 1996;
Vaggione 2002a). Eventually, after all local changes have
been performed, a Figure results as a configuration (or pat-
tern) so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely
as a sum of its parts.
How to achieve this is already a compositional issue.
3.3 Meso-structure
Meso-structure is the locus for polyphonic development
of more complex Figures (Figure 4). Just like the interdepen-
dency that has been established between Samples and Fig-
ures, a Meso-structure can encapsulate several Figures. Its
editing window comprises an eight-layer sequencer where in-
dividual onsets can be assigned to each contained Figure. All
objects inside a Meso-structure keep their individual methods
and properties. A Figure remains a Figure and can therefore
be modified through its own editor which, in turn, gives ac-
cess to the Sample editor. In fact, the three main IRIN editors
(Sample editor, Figure editor and Meso-structure editor) are
permanently linked. The way IRIN’s interface was built di-
rectly reflects all class dependencies shown in figure 1.
Figure 4: Meso Structure Editor window.
4 Timeline
At the top-level we have the Timeline window. Timeline
is basically a 4 track sequencer were Samples are represented
as a coloured bar, their size reflecting their duration (Figure
5). Figures are displayed as a white rectangle labelled with
the respective figure library name.
The notion of track used is somehow different from the
one we often find in traditional audio multi-track sequencers.
For instance, whether in ProTools or in Digital performer,
panning and volume curves are edited in the track affecting
the sound blocks placed in background. In the case of IRIN’s
timeline, because each sound object keeps track of its internal
data, their properties (including panning and envelope ampli-
tude) are a track-independent feature. Thus, every event al-
ways keeps the exactly same properties if moved back and
Proceedings ICMC 2004
forth inside a track or if it is changed between tracks.
Moreover, tracks are polyphonic. The main advantage in
this approach is that all kinds of object can be superimposed
in complex configurations and yet all events remain visually
close to one another. Figure 5 shows an example of this: in
track one, for instance, two figures appear over a set of sam-
ples. Local sound agglomerations are easily tracked at a quick
glance, since the materials can be arranged as if they were in
a score, overcoming the usual multi-track distribution con-
straints. As a metaphor for score staffs, tracks may be used
precisely as a compositional tool, helping the composer to ar-
range the polyphonic stratification of his material in a more
systematic way.
Figure 5: Timeline window.
Finally, Timeline includes two extra tracks: a Sound file
track and a MIDI track. Once included in the Timeline win-
dow, they are played along with the contents of the upper
tracks. MIDI track provides a limited representation of score
notation where all midi channels, represented by different
colours, become merged into a four staff score.
5 Discussion
The set of available object transforms is being extended to
include more advanced operations than those included in this
version. It is important to mention that since all data concern-
ing Sample, Figure, Meso-structure or track, is stored inside
Max coll objects with specific labels, it is relatively easy for
experienced MAX users to develop custom functions, mak-
ing them available to IRIN. For whoever may be interested,
it is also possible to implement global post audio treatment
to each track, simply by intercepting the audio running in-
side IRIN. This can be achieved using Max send and receive
objects.
Detailed documentation on these subjects is being pre-
pared.
6 Acknowledgments
I should like to thank my supervisor, Horacio Vaggione,
for the advice and continued support. I would like also to
thank Christopher Bochmann for reviewing the draft of this
article.
This research is supported by “FCT e FSE no ˆ
ambito do
III Quadro Comunit´
ario de Apoio”.
References
Caires, C. (2003). Vers une ´
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Roads, C. (2001). Microsound. Cambridge, Mass. ; London: MIT
Press.
Schilingi, J. B. (1998). Morphologie et structures musicales. In
Documentation (Ed.), Fonctions d’analyse, de reconnais-
sance, de classification et de reconstitution de s´
equences
symboliques et num´
eriques. Paris: IRCAM.
Vaggione, H. (1995). Objets, repr´
esentations, op´
erations. Ars
Sonora 2, 33–51.
Vaggione, H. (1996). Vers une approche transformationnelle en
cao. In C.-U. d. C. Les cahiers du GREYC (Ed.), Journ´
ees
d’Informatique Musicale 1996.
Vaggione, H. (2002a). Composition musicale et moyens infor-
matiques: questions d’approche. In Formel Informel, pp. 99–
117. Paris: L’Harmattan.
Vaggione, H. (2002b). Decorr´
elation microtemporelle, mor-
phologies et figures spatiales. In ADERIM-GMEM (Ed.),
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Proceedings ICMC 2004
... Também no campo da realização sonora e musical por via da electrónica poderá ser interessante a exploração de Collins (2009). Finalmente, não podemos deixar de referir dois casos distintos onde a concepção de software para a realização sonora e musical respondeu a imperativos de ordem estética com resultados notáveis, como o software destinado a composição musical baseada em micromontagem, irin (Caires, 2004, para um exemplo de aplicação cf. Roads 2015, pp. ...
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O livro Multimédia, Novos Média e Média Digitais surge da necessidade de inscrever um conjunto de conceitos e princípios caros ao ensino da Multimédia em Portugal. Ao longo da última década, a agência nacional de acreditação do ensino superior, a A3ES, foi chamada a intervir e avaliar todos os cursos do ensino superior, politécnico e universitário, no domínio da Multimédia, tendo sido confrontada com enormes disparidades na compreensão e aceção do domínio científico. Sabendo que estamos perante uma área recente, fruto de várias transformações que estão longe de se ter estabilizado, urgia apresentar publicamente pensamento e reflexão sobre o domínio, nomeadamente pedagógico, por forma a garantir um lastro de conhecimento harmonizante da área em Portugal. -- DOI: https://doi.org/10.34624/36q7-c807
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... This was utilized by IRIN Micromontage's software developed in MaxMSP by Portuguese composer Carlos Caires (2004). Micromontage is a composition technique based on the organization of time and space of events utilizing different types of sound objects, similar to the way that was followed by the French school, which can be observed in micro, meso and macro-scale, permitting the understanding of sounds as a whole and as one construction in musical terms. ...
... Carlos Caires presented the granular synthesizer IRIN in MAX with sequencing, spatialization, and micro-editing of the generated random sequences, at each of three levels (micro, meso, macro) [7], constructed under the supervision of composer Horacio Vaggione. Diemo Schwarz added MIDI output of generated grain sequences and playback capabilities to CATART for the composition of the installation soundtrack Trowel and Seal (2008) in an external sequencer. ...
... Παρόμοια, η αυτόματη κατηγοριοποίηση τμημάτων ήχων εφαρμόζεται σε δημιουργικές εφαρμογές όπως το micro-montage προς δημιουργία νέας υφής ήχων [Cai04]. Ο ταξινομητής συσσωρεύει σύντομες ηχητικές «λωρίδες» σε κατηγορίες υφής, που μπορούν να συνδεθούν και να ελεγχθούν από έναν φάκελο πλάτους. ...
... For the second version of the piece I also used IRIN, a micromontage and sound file manipulation program developed in Max/MSP by Carlos Caires at the University of Paris VIII. (Caires, 2003Caires, , 2004).Figure 3 shows a 40-second fragment of the score for 24 variations. The narrative of 24 variations unfolds deliberately, as the composer parsimoniously scatters dabs of energy over a ubiquitous background stream. ...
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Résumé Dans ce texte je présente de façon sommaire une approche concernant directement la composition musicale électroacoustique : il s'agit de générer des attributs morphologiques d'ordre spatial au moyen de décorrélations de sons effectuées dans le domaine du microtemps. Utilisées en amont des systèmes de diffusion ou de spatialisation globale, les techniques de décorrélation contribuent à enrichir la palette d'outils dont nous disposons pour sculpter l'espace «interne» d'une oeuvre musicale.
Composition musicale et moyens informatiques: questions d'approche
  • H Vaggione
Vaggione, H. (2002a). Composition musicale et moyens informatiques: questions d'approche. In Formel Informel, pp. 99-117. Paris: L'Harmattan.
Vers une approche transformationnelle en cao
  • H Vaggione
Vaggione, H. (1996). Vers une approche transformationnelle en cao. In C.-U. d. C. Les cahiers du GREYC (Ed.), Journées d'Informatique Musicale 1996.
Morphologie et structures musicales Fonctions d'analyse, de reconnaissance , de classification et de reconstitution de séquences symboliques et numériques
  • J B Schilingi
Schilingi, J. B. (1998). Morphologie et structures musicales. In Documentation (Ed.), Fonctions d'analyse, de reconnaissance, de classification et de reconstitution de séquences symboliques et numériques. Paris: IRCAM.
Objets, représentations, opérations
  • H Vaggione
Vaggione, H. (1995). Objets, représentations, opérations. Ars Sonora 2, 33-51.
  • C Roads
Roads, C. (2001). Microsound. Cambridge, Mass. ; London: MIT Press.
Fonctions d'analyse, de reconnaissance, de classification et de reconstitution de séquences symboliques et numériques
  • J B Schilingi
Schilingi, J. B. (1998). Morphologie et structures musicales. In Documentation (Ed.), Fonctions d'analyse, de reconnaissance, de classification et de reconstitution de séquences symboliques et numériques. Paris: IRCAM.