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Christophe d'Alessandro, Senior Researcher, CNRS, France: Of pipes and patches: Making music on the augmented organ

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  • Distinguished Lecture
When Jan 19, 2012
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Clara Lichtenstein Recital Hall (C-209), Strathcona Music Building, 555 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal
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The organ is the earliest form of sound synthesizer, featuring artificial harmonics and additive synthesis (mixtures and mutation stops, since the middleages), subtractive synthesis (varied reeds stops shapes, since the Renaissance), modulation and detuning effect (undulant stops, tremulant, since the Baroque area), and huge combinatorial possibilities. After a burst of new music around the sixties exploring extended techniques (e.g. Ligeti, Cage,  Kagel, Scelsi),  the organ didn’t really attract much attention from contemporary composers, outside the circle of organist-composers. This lecture will present technical and musical aspects of digital augmentation of the pipe organ, exploring new stops, new extended techniques, and new music for this venerable instrument.  The augmented organ is based on: 1/ near field sound capture inside the organ case; 2/ real-time “dry” audio signals processing; 3/ sound playback on a network of loudspeakers, either integrated to the organ loft or surrounding the tribune. The electronic sources are carefully voiced for blending with the acoustic sources and room acoustics. The augmented organ offers new organ touch (new control on the transient and sustain sounds), new stops (inharmonic mixtures) and new vocabulary for the instrument (microtonal variations, glides). Some consequences for playing techniques and composition are discussed. We think these new ways are worth exploring for performers, improvisers and composers.


Christophe d'Alessandro is a researcher and a musician.  He is a CNRS senior researcher (Directeur de Recherche) and the head of the Audio and Acoustics group at LIMSI. His research interests include speech analysis and synthesis, prosody in speech and singing, voice quality, organology and acoustics of keyboard instruments, live computer music.  He published over 150 papers in major journals, conferences and books in the fields of Speech Processing, Musical Acoustics, and Organology.  Christophe d’Alessandro studied organ and improvisation (with Suzanne Chaisemartin and Denys Mathieu-Chiquet), musical analysis and composition (with Solange Ancona, Jean-Michel Bardez and Luc Ferrari). He has been deputy organist, then “organiste titulaire” of the historical organ in Sainte-Élisabeth, Paris, since 1987.  As a performer and improviser, he recorded for the theater, radio and television. He is a member of the French National Historic Monument Council (division of musical instruments).



APA video citation:

d'Alessandro, C. (2012, October 25). Of pipes and patches: Making music on the augmented organ -
CIRMMT Distinguished Lectures in the Science and Technology of Music. [Video file].
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