Implications for IRCAM of an electronic music preservation proposal
Serge Lemouton

What can be the nature of Ircam collaboration to the Real Time Music Preservation project ?

At Ircam, for some evident reasons, we are concerned by this question of patch sustainability at least since the beginning of the 21st century with the Interpares2 (International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems) and MUSTICA projects [BACHIMONT 2003]. This concern has been embodied since today in the “Sidney” system.

The role of IRCAM "Realisateurs en Informatique Musicale" is important in this matter. Among the many tasks implied by their position, porting (or “portage” ?) due to a change of the computer environment, new software versions, operating system evolution (etc.) is probably the activity which occupies the most of their time and energy. Consequently, computer music designers have empirically developed know-how, methodologies and systems to facilitate the porting of works in order to ensure their playability over time. Several propositions of patch standardisation and good practices had been proposed (by Rim or teachers from the pedagogy department) but where never universally adopted. All the initiatives to improve the future compatibilities of patches will be welcomed by the electronic musician community.

Sidney is :

  1. A part of the website (accessible only to registered users, for legal reasons)

  2. A database containing (ideally) all the version of all pieces commisioned by IRCAM
  3. A valuable resource for different user profiles (Computer Music Designers, analysts, concert organizers, etc.)
  4. A repository for preserving and documenting not only the musical material but also the Computer Music Designers Performance Practice
  5. A workflow for proactive preservation. Because of the actual forward incompatibility of actual softwares and hardwares, patches are not eternal. The Sidney workflow tries to solve this problem by considering that the work versions lifecycle has several states : archiving, documentation, validation, update. (cf fig.9 in [LEMOUTON2019])

Perspectives and future improvements of Sidney :

  1. Collaborative documentation. As of today, each version is documented only by a single documentalist, they should be multi-user.

  2. Opening to external (non-Ircam) users and repertoire -> The “Antony” project. This suppose to open-source the system and to solve legal and to manage users access rights.
  3. Integration of a versioning system (git-style) to allow a finer granularity in the “history” of the patches.
  4. Data mining.For example,  In [LEMOUTON 2016], I use the database to automatically study patch typologies in a corpus extracted from Sidney.
  5. Automatic documentation validation. Today, Although there is now a formalized process to validate of a piece documentation, it is still done manually.
  6. Automatic patch testing

We can imagine the Ircam collaboration to the Real Time Music Preservation project in these directions :

  1. Elaboration of the list of work/patches that will constituted the “Test Suite”

  2. Providing these patches
  3. Integration of an interface between sidney and the test sever to automatize the testing of the whole database
    4. ...


  • Lemouton, S., Bonardi, A., Pottier, L., & Warnier, J. (2019). On the Documentation of Electronic Music. Computer Music Journal, 42(4), 41--58.

  • Lemouton, S. & Goldszmidt, S. (2016). La préservation des œuvres musicales du répertoire de l'IRCAM : Présentation du modèle Sidney et analyse des dispositifs temps réel. In Journées d'Informatique Musicale, Albi, 2016.

  • Bachimont, B., Blanchette, J., Gerzso, A., Swetland, A., Lescurieux, O., Morizet-Mahoudeaux, P., Donin, N., & Teasley, J. (2003). Preserving interactive digital music: a report on the MUSTICA research initiative. In Proceedings of the third international conference on web delivering of music (WEB'03) (pp. 109-112)