The fundamental principle of the STMS Lab is to encourage productive interaction among scientific research, technological developments, and contemporary music production. Since its establishment in 1995, this initiative has provided the foundation for the institute’s activities. One of the major issues is the importance of contributing to the renewal of musical expression through science and technology. Conversely, specific problems related to contemporary composition have led to innovative, theoretical, methodological, and applied advances in the sciences with ramifications far beyond the world of music.
Focused on artistic production, in all its particularity and sensitivity, this highly original research dynamic addresses modes of representation and of extended manipulation of sound and music, thus eliciting scientific and technological applications that touch an increasingly wide-ranging public including sound and music professionals, industrial concerns, academics, music devotees, etc. Central to the interaction between research and musical production is the development of software tools for musicians, composers, performers, and musicologists using the models and prototypes created by the research teams in various music-related domains including information technology (e.g. languages, human-computer interaction, realtime, and databases), signal processing, acoustics, auditory perception and cognitive psychology, and musicology.
Research, the source of innovation, seeks to expand our knowledge of music related issues. Because of its essentially cross-disciplinary character, a great deal of research is carried out in collaboration with laboratories in France and abroad, academic institutions, institutional partners, and private partners. The integration of graduate and postgraduate students enables research training. The skills developed at IRCAM can be applied to domains beyond the musical arena and are frequently included in projects carried out with industrial partners or in the context of French, European, or multinational research projects.
The development pole seeks to adapt the knowledge, models, and prototypes produced by the research teams into software environments. The principle applications are used to create tools that assist musical creation by putting in place open and programmable environments, adaptable to a variety of aesthetic approaches and that allow for the continued integration of models and their updates. This configurable design makes it easier to develop simplified versions of the software programs intended for the general public: Ircam Tools (for audio professionals), IrcaMax (for live electronic music), IrcamLab (for a broad range of users). Central to software development is the design and evaluation of specific human-computer interaction interfaces and the permanent integration of the rapidly evolving technology from the computer industry. The IRCAM Forum—an IRCAM software user group—encourages the distribution of the institute’s software within an international community of music and sound professionals (e.g. composers, multimedia and visual artists, sound engineers and designers, researchers, teachers, etc.) with an estimated 10,000 users since its beginnings. The IRCAM Forum also provides companies with licenses for either internal use or distribution purposes. These licenses can apply to either complete applications (e.g. the Max program, used by tens of thousands worldwide, is licensed to the company Cycling ‘74 in California) or to specific functional models (e.g. audio analysis and processing, indexing, spatialization, synthesis) that are included in commercial environments.