The Acousmographe was developed at Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM) in Paris. It is a software dedicated to the graphic representation of electronic and computer music. Was designed as a tool for teaching support and for the study and analysis of electroacoustic repertoire. Realized in three versions over more than two decades, today is still affected by research and development activity. The latest version is 3.6.

Historical Background – In the 90s the technological progress provides new computers, with high performance but at a lower cost and smaller dimensions. This new situation is also reflected in the research of Groupe de Recherches Musicales. During the decade will take shape major projects such as the GRM Tools and MidiFormer, both oriented in music composition by computer. At the same time researchers at the GRM also work to another computer project: the Acousmographe, which reflects other issues related to electronic music.

Objectives – The researchers and composers who have attended the environment of the GRM are concerned, since the fifties, to the problems of transcription of electronic music repertoire. In the seventies an important first milestone was achieved by Francois Delalande and Jacques Vidal.[1] In the eighties, with the availability of computer tools by better performance, we started to evaluate the use of computer issues for the transcription and analysis of electronic music. The Acousmographe project, initiated in the late eighties, it was inserted in a discourse of continuity with respect to research conducted at the GRM, in previous decades.

Acosumographe 1 – In 1988, Olivier Koechlin, an expert in computer graphics, was in residence at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales for a short time. His presence convinced Francois Bayle to promote a computer project for the graphical representation of sound signals. A first version was developed for Macintosh computers, integrated with the HyperCard software (later Supercard) and implemented with Dyaxis sound cards and, in 1989, with Digidesign sound cards of Audiomedia. The first version, hereinafter Acousmographe 1, although it was still a very limited tool, received numerous appreciations by both composers and musicologists. Among the latter, Francois Delalande also showed a positive attitude, although the first version was never a good stabilization. Indeed, the instability of the system was fairly common, the risk of data loss was always possible and this created a certain mood. At the same time, the potential of Acousmographe were evident at all. Compared to later versions, the first had a limited number of features: it was possible to see amplitude and the FFT of a signal. The two channels of a stereo signal could be displayed in different colors,[2] Apple’s standard drawing tools allow the manipulation of graphic materials and their exportation to other Mac software.[3] The Acousmographe was designed with a library of graphic symbols, and sound cards were used to listening the sound materials represented graphically. Moreover, its operation was based on the use of the sonogram, which was computed by the CPU of the computer. Although already equipped with many features, because of its instability, Acousmographe 1 was considered just a prototype, but provided the basis for subsequent developments. The Acousmographe 1 was central to the activities of the GRM from 1989 to 1998, approximately.

Acosumographe 2 – In the mid-nineties, the success of the first version, but also its limitations, motivated the choice of a new version. In particular it was required adaptation for the PC environment as well as Mac, to ensure better circulation. In the second version, released in 2004 and named Acousmographe 1.2 or more simply Acousmographe 2, Didier Bultiauw, Mathieu Reynaud and Jean-Baptiste Thiebaut (supervised by Hugues Vinet and Emmanuel Favreau) formed the working group.[1] Among the new features include the ability to insert markers and the addition of automated analysis processes.[3] This second version, though with more features, it is rather complex in its use, also did not allow exports to Flash and Quicktime. Research sull”Acousmographe 2 was launched in 1995 and the new version was used until 2003.[1]

Acousmographe 3 – Since the end of 2003, work began to build a third version. The request, in this case, came directly from the French Ministry of Education. This time tried to make the Acousmographe a more commercial product, in terms of ease of use, since the goal of the Ministry was the circulation of Acousmographe in schools as a teaching tool that can contribute to understanding of music. Released in 2004, the new version included the ability to display the waveform and spectrogram of a sound signal, in order to provide the parameters related to the duration and frequency. The new version, which worked, under the supervision of Adrien Lefevre, Yann Geslin and Emmanuel Favreau, who was named simply Acousmographe 3, had to support the analysis and multi-track visualization. You enter commands for different zoom levels and the environment was structured so as to enable simultaneous viewing of multiple windows work.[3]

SoundSpotter – Today the Acousmographe is an instrument on which research is concentrated in order to improve functionality. For the Acousmographe was developed a plug-in called SoundSpotter, a series of algorithms to analyze and compare sections of sound through the analysis and comparison of their graphical representations. This is a project initiated by the University of Hertfordshire under the supervision of Christian Spevak.



For this topic I’ve read.

[1] Yann Geslin, Adrien Lefevre, Sound and musical representation: the Acousmographe software, Proceedings of International Computer Music Conference, Miami, 2004.
[2] Olivier Koechlin, Hugues Vinet, The Acousmographe, a Macintosh Software for the Graphical Representation of Sounds, Proceedings of ICMC, 1991.
[3] Emmanuel Favreau, Yann Geslin, Adrien Lefevre, L’Acousmographe 3 in Actes des 15e Journees d’Informatique Musicale, Rennes, 2010.
[4] Christain Spevak, Emmanuel Favreau, SoundSpotter – A Prototype System for Content-Based Audio Retrieval, Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Digital Audio Effects, Hamburg, 2002.

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