Machines, Tools, Studios

By INA grm

"On the one hand, as soon as a record is put on the turntable, a magical power enchains me, obliges me to listen to it, however monotonous it may be. Do we let ourselves be carried away by it because we are in the know?" Pierre Schaeffer

Pierre Schaeffer (1963) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

Throughout its history, the Groupe de Recherches Musicales has developed tools and techniques enabling composers to create and manipulate sound material with increasing precision and expressiveness.

GRM Studio rue de l'Université, Paris (1962) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

These developments have been designed and executed to support an overriding principle, that of "do and hear," which obliges the musician to engage in a constant back-and-forth between manipulation of the sound and attentive listening.

Studio 116 B (1980) by Guy VivienINA grm

From record players with touchscreens, to magnetic tape and the first computers, discover an adventure that has spanned over 70 years.

Magnétophone tri pistes (1962) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

Modernized and extended version of the mini synthesizer 54 (2018) by Didier AllardINA grm

The Analog Era

In the origins of musique concrète lies a technique referred to as "closed groove," which Pierre Schaeffer explored in the 1940s in his "Cinq études de bruits" (Five studies of noises).

Disc writers (1952) by Philippe BattaillonINA grm

The principle: make an incision in the groove of a "flexi disc," an ancestor to the vinyl record, to create a loop enabling you to repeat a sound infinitely, either forward or backward, while varying its height depending on the speed at which the record plays.

Disc writers (1952) by Philippe BattaillonINA grm

The flexi disc was very quickly replaced by magnetic tape as a medium for recording, playing, and manipulating sound. It offers numerous advantages, including the ability to "mount" small pieces of tape between each other to create increasingly complex sound frescoes.

Magnetic Tape Editing (1963) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

Creating loops and playing output at different speeds were also made easier by this new medium, which became an imperative for GRM composers and remained so for several decades.

Manetic tape loops (1980) by Guy VivienINA grm

In 1951, Pierre Schaeffer and the engineer Jacques Poullin invented the Phonogène, a machine that allowed the user to control the speed of playback of a magnetic tape in accordance with the twelve semitones of the tempered scale.

Phonogène universel (1965) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

Created in 1954, the Morphophone allows a delay effect to be applied to the sound signal. Also using magnetic tape as a medium, its twelve play heads enable the same sound to be replayed simultaneously but with a delay to produce an echo effect, while also varying the dynamics and timbre of the sound.

Morphophone (1962) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

In the late 1960s, the engineer Francis Coupigny developed a large electronic instrument for analog synthesis: the GRM modular synthesizer.

GRM console (1971) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

It is made of different modules that interact with each other via a modulation matrix, which allows considerable flexibility of use and infinite possibilities for creating sounds.

Mini synthétiseur 54 (2010) by Philippe DaoINA grm

Bernard Parmegiani, La Roue Ferris (1971) by Bernard ParmegianiINA grm

SYTER system (1991) by INA grmINA grm

The Digital Era

The first digital machines arrived at the GRM in the late 1970s. Initial experimentation with the programming language MUSIC V turned out to be a resounding failure.
Indeed, the abstract approach of programming is in contradiction with the concrete approach practiced by the composers of the GRM.

Studio 123 (1982) by Guy VivienINA grm

The SYTER ("Système Temps Réel," or real-time system) project came to fruition out of a desire to be able to process sound in real time and rediscover exploratory play. SYTER offered a graphical interface controlled via a mouse...

SYTER Interface (1984) by Laszlo RuszkaINA grm

... and an innovative playing mode: the interpolator, which allowed the user to play with complex settings and hear the results at the same time.

SYTER Live (1987) by Guy VivienINA grm

The command line of the Studio 123 was replaced by a graphical interface that was more accessible to the user (potentiometers allowing real-time adjustments). A group of settings could be selected by listening directly to the results.

Jean Francois Allouis (1985) by Guy VivienINA grm

The main sound-processing algorithms tested on the Studio 123 and SYTER were migrated to the personal micro-computer in the 90s under the name of GRM Tools.

GRM Tools CD-ROM (2000)INA grm

Over the years, GRM Tools has earned a reputation as an essential set of tools for sound design for cinema or video games.

GRM Tools Collection (2020) by Emmanuel FavreauINA grm

Credits: Story

INA grm - Groupe de Recherches Musicales

Direction : François J. Bonnet
Administration : Jessica Ciesco
Coordination, assistant de programmation : Jules Négrier
Chargé de production : Jean-Baptiste Garcia
Direction technique : Philippe Dao, Emmanuel Richier
Développement GRM Tools : Emmanuel Favreau, Matthias Puech
Développement GRM Player : Adrien Lefèvre
Chefs de projets R&D : Nicolas Debade, Dominique Saint-Martin
Réalisateur radiophonique : Alexandre Bazin
Formations professionnelles, numérisation : Diego Losa

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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