2018.19 Artistic Research Residency. Raphaël Imbert et Benjamin Lévy. In collaboration with the Musical Representations IRCAM-STMS Team and the Analysis of Musical Practices IRCAM-STMS Team.

2018.19 Artistic Research Residency

AI Swing ! Analyse & Improvisation / Artificial Intelligence / Artwork & Interdisciplinarity
In collaboration with the Musical Representations IRCAM-STMS Team and the Analysis of Musical Practices IRCAM-STMS Team.

From the long term experience playing with OMax, this project extracts 3 main area to explore further in collaboration with IRCAM’s RepMus and APM teams. The analysis possibilities to extend its scopes and parameters, the ethno-musical usage of the system on archive and recorded material and the graphical aspects of the visualization.

From 2009, Raphaël Imbert and Benjamin Lévy played with OMax in very numerous and various situations from the concert to pedagogical worskshops and scientific conferences. Our curiosity for scientific, historical and musical research made us gather a great number of feedback and ideas both practical and theoretical on how to push the field of co-improvisation with this computer system further. In this project named AI Swing ! Analysis & Improvisation / Artificial Intelligence / Artwork & Interdisciplinarity, we organised those research directions in three main themes. Although the first goal was to generate new music interactions, Omax principles are very powerful to analyze improvisations from any esthetics and any epochs. Furthermore, it is able to provide a visualization and a creative usage of those analysis which revealed to be very pertinent. We propose de push forward this topic, formalize and enhance the analysis capacity of OMax and its successors towards wider and more generic usage.

Thanks to the previously mentionned analysis capacity of OMax, the investigation of historical music material such as first recordings of Jazz solo, archives of old preaching and many other meaningful documents in the vast music history, we think that the inner knowledge of the system is capturing essential traits of music structure. And we would like to deepen the ethno-musical aspects of such a tool especially towards historical and pedagogical gaols.

Finally, the visualization aspect of OMax is not to be underestimated for artistic, analysis and pedagogical purposes. After many years of will and ideas on a transdisciplinarity usage of OMax, we hope to develop the graphical possiblities of the system and link it to different arts and esthetics. As OMax and its family of tools emerged from the Musical Representations team of IRCAM and as we kept connexion with this team through the years, it is natural to bring this project to the researchers of this team. However the historical and ethno-musical discoveries that we would like to formalize would resonate particularly well with the Analysis of Musical Practices team and especially with Clément Canonne's work on analysis of free improvisation.

Raphaël Imbert et Benjamin Lévy



Raphaël Imbert
Born on June 2 1974, Raphaël Imbert grew up in an artistic background. At the age of 15, he discovered the saxophone. It was love at first sight. Self-taught, he registered for the CNR jazz class in Marseilles, led by Philippe Renault, and met the regional musicians with who he plays the most regularly  (Emile Atsas, Jean-Luc Difraja, Vincent Lafont, Pierre Fenichel…).

With Jean-Jacques Elangué, he won first prize at the Conservatoire in Marseille, and started two bands, the Hemle Orchestra and the Atsas Imbert Consort, with which he went on to play in many festivals ( Vienne, Nice, Fiesta des Suds in Marseilles, Théâtre des Salins). With these musicians, he has enjoyed composing in eclectic musical settings. More personally, he has developed his own vision of music and jazz, linked to the specific spirituality of jazz creation.
For this purpose, he created “Nine Spirits” a group of musicians that focused on the sacred musics of Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Albert Ayler and others, and to realize shows inspired by evocative texts, using narration as a musical element per se (Théodore Monod, Amidou Hampatê Bâ, Martin Luther King…). In this connection he also initiatied  a study about the sacred in jazz, and became a laureate of the Villa Médicis Hors les Murs in 2003. He taught at the Conservatoire in Marseilles, and now teaches at Ecole Départemental de Musique des Alpes de Haute Provence.

He has been a member of the board of the” Orchestre National de jazz” since September 2004 and, in June 2005, he won the 28th National Jazz Competition of La Défense in Paris. Raphaël Imbert also composes for movies and television, for Philippe Carrese’s and Isabelle Boni-Claverie’s projects. He recorded 5 CDs for Zig Zag Territoires Label, including “Bach Coltrane”, an original work about improvisation, creative music and classical expression (14000 copies sold) and two albums with American musicians Gerald Cleaver and Joe Martin.  In 2013, he released a new album “Heavens, Amadeus & The Duke” (Jazz Village/Harmonia Mundi).
In 2005, Nine Spirit became the Nine Spirit Company, administrative and artistic structure to develop his ideas and those of associated artists, such as singer / songwriter Marion Rampal

Since 2004, Imbert joined as a graduate student at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), under the direction of Jean Jamin, and as such was commissioned for a research project n the southern United States for the IMPROTECH project, funded by the ANR (Agence Nationale pour la Recherche), in partnership with CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) and the LAHIC (Laboratoire d’Anthropologie de l’Histoire et de l’Institution de la Culture).

In 2013, he created many shows under the auspices of Marseille Provence 2013, capitale européenne de la culture. He played and led for the new Archie Shepp “Attica Blues” project. He published in 2014 a book about spirituality in jazz called “Jazz Supreme. Initiés, Mystiques & Prophètes” (éditions de l’éclat).

Benjamin Lévy
Computer music designer at IRCAM, Benjamin Lévy studied both sciences—primarily computer science, with at Phd in engineering—and music.
Since 2008, he has collaborated on both scientific and musical projects with several teams at IRCAM, in particular around the OMax improvisation software.

As an R&D engineer and developer, he has also worked in the private sector for companies specialized in creative audio technologies. He has taken part in several artistic projects at IRCAM and elsewhere as a computer musician for contemporary music works as well as jazz, free improv, theater, and dance. He has collaborated with choreographers such as Aurélien Richard, worked on musical theater with Benjamin Lazar, and performs with the jazz saxophonist Raphaël Imbert.