For Ircam, temple of sound, follow the guide Jean-Michel Jarre

For Ircam, temple of sound, follow the guide Jean-Michel Jarre

published on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at 2:21 p.m.

“The room is modular, in 20-40 seconds, you go from the acoustics of a church to that of a small recording studio”: Jean-Michel Jarre, electro figure, guides AFP to the reopening of Ircam in Paris, a little-known temple of sound.

“We are at the heart of Paris and at the heart of sound”, exhibits the musician in the Espace de projection (Espro) of the Institute for Acoustic/Music Research and Coordination, 16 meters underground, right next to the Center Pompidou .

Make no mistake: it is not a question here of projecting images, but of projecting musicians, and sometimes the public, into the sound material. Like last Saturday with Jean-Michel Jarre, in concert on the occasion of the reopening of the place after ten years of work and asbestos removal.

“The ears open their eyes in this context: what is interesting is to be in the music and not in front of the music”, develops the septuagenarian who has never rested on the laurels of “Oxygen”. and “Equinoxe”, his seminal albums of the 1970s.

“The Ircam was founded by Pierre Boulez (spearhead of avant-garde music) in 1977, a place of expression and technological and artistic experimentation, with the Espace de projection, inaugurated in 1978, a totally transformable place, totally modular”, he unfolds.

Designed by the architects of the Center Pompidou, Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, with the acoustician Victor Peutz, the Espro is indeed distinguished by its variable acoustics. “We can physically transform the acoustics”, describes JMJ.

– “It is unheard” –

The ceilings drop in three distinct panels, between 12 meters and 2 meters high.

The 171 wall panels can rotate to diffuse, absorb or reflect sound on demand.

And a sound spatialization system of 339 speakers allows total immersion. “It’s unheard of, in the etymological sense of the term”, underlines Jean-Michel Jarre.

An ideal space for this creator, who performed there with his show “(more)Oxymore”, based on his 22nd studio album “Oxymore”, released last year and mixed in 360° audio.

Ircam can, according to him, “serve as a Trojan horse for France for the digital sovereignty of tomorrow, sound will be at the heart of all immersive worlds”. “When we talk about metaverse, XR (immersive reality), VR (virtual reality), everyone has the visual side in mind, whereas we can talk above all about sound: the visual field is 140°, the auditory field is 360°”, he asserts.

Behind his consoles, in the Espro, Jean-Michel Jarre therefore looks to the future, but also pays tribute in a mischievous formula to the “three founding stones of contemporary music”.

Or the French musicians Pierre Boulez, Pierre Schaeffer, pillar of concrete music who was his teacher, and Pierre Henry, one of the fathers of electroacoustic music who paved the way for electro.

“They cleared sonically, mixing the sound of a bird with a clarinet, of an engine with percussion”. “It was surreal in their time and became the common way from hip-hop to jazz to incorporate sound effects into an orchestral or electronic set”. “IRCAM is in tune with the times,” he concludes.

New generation pioneer artists, Lucie Antunes (here for a game between real and virtual lutherie) or Deena Abdelwahed (who integrates singing in Arabic and experimental techno and bet here on digital percussion) have also performed. days in concerts in the projection space.

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