It is with great sadness that we have just learned of the death of Louis Dandrel.
A pioneer in France of sound design, which he practised within the framework of the Diasonic company and the Espaces Nouveaux association, Louis Dandrel was appointed to IRCAM in 1999 to found the eponymous team with a view to giving this emerging discipline an institutional foundation on a scientific basis. This project, supported by the Ministry of Culture, set a new research mission for IRCAM, focusing on the sound design of public spaces and industrial products.
His arrival at IRCAM was preceded by his aura as founder of Radio Classique and Le Monde de la Musique newspaper, as designer of the SNCF's jingle and as promoter of several visionary projects associating Espaces Nouveaux and IRCAM:
- the TULIP project of PSA - Peugeot Citroën, which from 1996 foreshadowed shared fleets of electric cars, involving René Caussé of the Instrumental Acoustics team and instrument maker Sylvain Ravasse, the movement of each car producing, by various mechanical processes, sounds to be part of an urban sound ecology;
- the first developments by Jean-Marc Jot of the Spatialisateur software in collaboration with Jean-Pascal Jullien and Olivier Warusfel of the Room Acoustics team - the IRCAM "Spat" remains, twenty-five years later, an unparalleled reference;
The main areas of research invested at IRCAM under the responsibility of Louis Dandrel with his collaborators Nicolas Misdariis and Emmanuel Deruty and the scientific teams - Instrumental Acoustics, Room Acoustics and Musical Perception and Cognition - focused on:
- the design of multi-speaker sound sources with controlled directivity, in the continuity of Philippe Dérogis' thesis, with the production of the “Cube” used by Louis Dandrel in an installation in the Jardin of the Plaine-Mer at the Mont-Saint-Michel and in the atrium of the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées Theatre, and production of the “Timée”, in connection with the composers François Nicolas, Oliver Schneller then Marco Stroppa; this research is currently the subject of new experiments and artistic projects;
- in the continuity of the TULIP project, the production of sounds using the Modalys physical modelling synthesis software, in particular for sounds in the car interior with Renault; this approach was subsequently applied to the production of watch chimes in collaboration with a major Swiss watch manufacturer;
- the application of expertise in experimental psychology and auditory cognition to sound design processes, intervening both downstream of the production of sounds for their subjective evaluation but also upstream with a view to constituting a descriptive referential of sounds that can be mobilised as a formal support of specifications. On this subject, Louis Dandrel expressed his aspiration to produce the equivalent of a "Pantone of sounds". The recent achievements of the SpeaK project, which articulates a descriptive lexicon and a set of prototype sounds, represent an important step forward in this direction. This work in relation to psychoacoustics was notably applied in its beginnings by the experimentation of a thematic web-radio with France Télécom R&D and Radio France Multimédia, then with Bouygues Télécom on signage for telephony around the notion of sound hyperlinks ("sound quotes" indicating the occurrence of links in a sound flow) and in the framework of the ECRINS project linking perceptual categorisations and automated indexing of sample databases. They then developed as part of the first PhD theses in collaboration with companies - Guillaume Lemaître on car horns with Klaxon, Clara Sueid on car alarms with Renault, Julien Tardieu on train station signage with the SNCF. In 2002, the first Sound Design Days conference was held under the aegis of the Acoustical French Society, with Patrick Susini as one of the organisers, a founding act of an interdisciplinary community bringing together researchers and industrialists.
After Louis Dandrel's departure from IRCAM in 2004, the development of the work he had initiated continued within the framework of the Sound Perception and Design team led by Patrick Susini, then by Nicolas Misdariis, and the foundation of the DNSEP Sound Design at Masters level at the TALM Higher School of Art and Design in collaboration with the ENSCI and the LAUM. The importance of sound design in IRCAM's activities has grown to the point where today it is one of the main strategic axes of the industrial development actions carried out by Ircam Amplify.
I extend my sincere condolences to his family and loved ones and my gratitude for the importance of his contribution to our Institute.