The Computer Music Designer: an emerging profession

Richard Teitelbaum (standing) and from left to right Joel Chadabe, and Musical Assistants Mauro Graziani and Alvise Vidolin in 1983 [Source:

My present research brings to light an infrequently studied professional figure: the Musical Assistant (or “Computer music designer”, or “RIM – Réalisateur en informatique musicale”), who has been unreasonably neglected, both in the literature and by music listeners. As one frustrated French musical assistant acknowledged: “the fact is, by and large the public ignores the implications of a musical assistant for the creation of contemporary music” (Poletti, Mays, Faia 2002, 243) [1].

My research is studying this emerging profession: its history, activity, dynamics, difficulties, human and cultural exchanges. It focuses on the source material conserved at various computer music centres, expecially at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) in Paris and at the CSC (Centro di Sonologia Computazionale) in Padova.

Old and often forgotten archival material (little known sources containing administrative documents, letters, memos); scientific literature produced by musical assistants and interviews with musical assistants are being researched. The methodology combines historic musicology with anthropologic methods based on oral history practice. The project involves an anonymous survey, designed to retrieve the information from professionals who have knowledge and skills in this field.

This research is funded by French CNRS (invited researcher CNRS INS2I at Ircam in Paris, Equipe Analyse des pratiques musicales du Laboratoire STMS Ircam-CNRS-UPMC) and by the University of Padova (research grant).

[1] Manuel Poletti, Tom Mays et Carl Faia, « Assistant musical ou producteur ? Esquisse d’un nouveau métier », Journées d’Informatique Musicale, 9e édition, Marseille, 29 – 31 mai 2002, p. 241-246 (, p. 243.

One response to “The Computer Music Designer: an emerging profession

  1. Pingback: Les origines du nom de RIM (Réalisateur en informatique musicale) | laura zattra·

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