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René Caussé, IRCAM, France: Acoustics and contemporary music (revisited)

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  • Distinguished Lecture
When Oct 17, 2013
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Tanna Schulich Hall, New Music Building, 527 Sherbrooke Street West.
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The wine and cheese reception following the lecture will take place in room A832 & A833 (8th floor of the New Music Building).


“Contemporary music needs new sounds: it can hope to get through a novel use of existing instruments, with changes, or due to the invention of new instruments." This phrase is taken from a paper co-written by Jean Kergomard and myself for the round table discussion on Acoustics and Contemporary Music held on July 1983 for the 11th International Congress on Acoustics in Paris. The contributions of other participants (Pierre Boulez, Michèle Castellengo, William Hartmann, Jean-Claude Risset) gave rise to a number of questions, some of which have been contributed later for my research (micro-intervals on woodwind instruments, production of brass multi-phonics sounds, taking into account the radiation of sources in sound reproduction technique) and have also guided applications (re-conception of musical instruments partially or fully, taking advantage of the latest advances in research and technology). At the time, very little was discussed regarding sound synthesis, which was still in its early stages. 

Thirty years later, the CIRMMT Distinguished Lecture gives me the opportunity to re-examine some topics discussed at that round table, now further developed in light of fruitful exchanges with my colleagues, scientists and musicians, over the past thirty years at IRCAM.


René Caussé is the director of the musical acoustics group at IRCAM. He received a Doctorate of Speciality in signal processing from Toulouse University in 1976 on noise dosimetry. He has studied piano and percussion, and his musical experience as a member of Toulouse Symphony Orchestra was at the heart of his choice to combine science with artistic applications. He subsequently worked in a laboratory of metrology and instrumentation in Toulouse and joined IRCAM in 1978. He was awarded a Doctorate of Sciences from Le Mans University in 1992, working under the direction of Gabriel Weinreich on an electronic string bowing system. 

His main interest is concerned with acoustics of musical instruments, whatever their geographical origin, from various aspects: oscillation, radiation, quality of instruments and in innovative applications for contemporary music such as extending possibilities of traditional instruments, creating new sounds by using synthesis from physical principle, or controlling radiation reproduction of sound sources with multi-loudspeaker system.

He is a member of the French Acoustical Society (SFA), of the European Acoustics Association (EAA) and a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. For over twelve years, he has hosted a teaching activity on the relationship between research in acoustics and contemporary music at the Ecole Centrale de Paris. 



APA video citation:

Caussé, R. (2014, May 12). Acoustics and contemporary music (revisited) -
CIRMMT Distinguished Lectures in the Science and Technology of Music. [Video file].
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