Cursus Syllabus

An intensive, full-time course, the Cursus offers a comprehensive panorama of tools and techniques related to the use of computers and new technologies for composition, particularly in the fields of CAO, signal processing, sound synthesis, and writing for interaction.

The various mini-projects assigned throughout the first part of the year (from October to April) are essential steps that allow students to acquire the practical skills necessary to use the principle environments developed at IRCAM and to be able to use them in their creative process.

The year is dotted with guest artist contributions, composition sessions, and workshops on selected themes (image, dance, text, improvisation) with the composer associated with the Cursus: Pierre Jodlowski. These artistic and collective meetings aim to shed light on the theme addressed during these sessions and to question the students on their own creative process and its challenges.

This first term is followed by a period (from May to September) that focuses on the writing and production of the final project by the composers, presented at IRCAM at the end of the program in September.

Cursus Educational Program


Phase 1


  • Master the basics of digital audio
  • Record, digitize, and prepare sound samples
  • Know how to use TS2 for sound processing
  • Know how to use REAPER
  • Master the basics of Max and OpenMusic


Acoustic, Digital Audio

  • Studio techniques (recording, mixing, preparing samples, etc.)
  • REAPER software (editing, mixing, mastering, saving)

    Analysis, Synthesis, Sound Processing
  • FFT processing
  • TS2 software: analysis, editing, processing, automation, mastering

Introduction to Max Software

Introduction to OpenMusic software through the use of audio functions 

  • Creating granular synthesis 
  • Calculate the RMS level

Image Workshop taught by Pierre Jodlowski
Reflection on the relationship between music and image, presentation of the different strategies of writing with these mediums, reflection on the projection supports within the framework of installation or performance type projects.

Mini project #1: electroacoustic study  
Produce a short electroacoustic piece based on a short film excerpt to demonstrate what has been learned in this first module. This first mini-project is also a way to begin developing strategies to incorporate other media in the final production.

Phase 2


  • Master the main functions of Live
  • Know the differences between Max and Max for Live, create effects, know how to synchronize a process to a Live tempo
  • Study musical formalization

Introduction to Live

  • MIDI clips, audio clips, audio effects, substractive synthesis
  • FM – instruments (Analog, Operator)

Introduction to Max For Live

  • Elaboration of a few tools for processing and synthesis
  • Incorporating a voice-following module (Voice Follower)

Computer Assisted Orchestration (CAO)

  • Open Music
  • Chord-seq
  • Manipulation of lists - <x-dx> <dsx->x>
  • Introduction to the maquette

Text Workshop taught by Pierre Jodlowski
Presentation of the issues related to the inclusion of textual elements in a compositional project.
Technical workshop on voice (hardware, software, setting in situation).
Work with a poet and an actor for a collective experimentation session.

Mini projet #2: project on a short excerpt from a text or a poem
Prepare a Live session enabling interaction with the spoken or sung voice; identify the problems of amplification of the voice according to the type of source, appropriate speaking (theatrical situation); identify the "weight" of sound and musical phenomena in a context of composition with text.

Phase 3


  • Know how to use sensors with Max
  • Introduction to the R-iOT sensors: know how an accelerometer works, know how to interpret data and process them, assign them to the process control


  • Max and sensors: reception, processing data from sensors
  • Setting up a mapping system
  • Putting R-iOT sensors in application 
  • Sonification

Dance Workshop danse taught by Pierre Jodlowski
Identification of the role of the body in the practice of composition (the body of the musicians, the body - performative). Work with a choreographer and one or more dancers in the form of a participatory workshop (experience of one's own relationship to the body).

Mini projet #3: Dance / music / real-time / controllers
This project aims to identify and test devices for interaction with the body; in particular during workdays with dancers but more generally in order to identify paradigms related to the writing of gesture (use of sensors, choreographic scores, tools available in the Max environment...)

Phase 4


  • Learn to structure a Max patch for a performance
  • Use the parameters of a sound and its descriptors to control processing
  • Introduction to software for improvisation developed at IRCAM
  • Introduction to synthesis using physical modelling with Modalys
  • Design a Max patch and/or instrument-tools intended for improvisation

Processing, parameter following (amplitude, fØ, etc.), descriptors

Improvisation (DY2CI & OMAX)

Modèles physiques

  • Introduction to Lisp
  • Construction of instruments in the Lisp and Max interfaces

Improvisation Workshop taught by Pierre Jodlowski with a guest composer
Collective session, involving the participation of the whole group: solo, duo, or in small groups, but all together. Reflection on the tools, on musicality, on the form, on the conduct of an improvisation. Invitation of a composer and improviser who will also address the influence of improvisation in his compositional work.

Mini projet #4: improvisation session
Improvisation as a tool to generate sound or compositional material; an essential practice to fully understand stage awareness; a writing element in scores.

Phase 5


  • Further knowledge of synthesis by physical models
  • Initiation to score following
  • Initiation to sound diffusion
  • Initiation to spatialization


  • OM-Modalys Library – Management of a polyphonic instrument in Max
  • Introduction to Antescofo
  • Acousmatic sound diffusion
  • Spatializing sounds with Max objects; introduction to IRCAM’s Spatialisateur

Mini projet #5: Synchronization Study with Electronics
Synchronize the electronics in a concert patch with a simulation of an instrumental or gestural score (in the case of a performance) using studio resources. The goal of this mini-project is to identify the relevant tools for the production of the project (real-time, delayed time, clicktrack, triggers...)

Phase 6


  • Further knowledge of synthesis by physical models
  • Further knowledge of score following
  • Max processing
  • Further knowledge of spatialization
  • Learning about research at IRCAM


  • Modalys: making 3D instruments
  • Antescofo
  • Max: resonance patterns
  • HOA
  • Lectures by research teams

Mini projet #6: Intermediary sketch
Each student proposes a sketch that gives an idea of their final project, which allows them to test all the artistic and technical aspects (project with instrument(s), dance, video, performance...). This presentation is supervised by Pierre Jodlowski and the entire team.


Phase 7

Writing, development, and realization of both the computer and material configuration for the final project.

Each student benefits from individualized follow-up for the execution of his/her final project by members of the teaching staff and Pierre Jodlowski.

Depending on the projects and the students' requests, additional courses on specific subjects may be offered by the teaching staff.

During this period, on the occasion of the ManiFeste festival, students will have the opportunity to attend rehearsals and technical installations of the projects included in the festival program.

Phase 8: concert and documentation of the projects


  • Documenting a project
  • Learning to communicate with different people during a concert: musicians, performers, sound engineers, stage hands, lighting designers…

The Cursus concert is presented as part of IRCAM's musical season.
At the end of the concert, students must provide complete documentation of their piece (score, audio mix, ordered patches) for archives.

A certificate of achievement is awarded to composers upon completion of the Cursus program. This document validates the acquisition of the student's knowledge and is based on:

  • The production and presentation of mini projects for which a set of specifications is sent to the students. The mini-projects are presented to the class and the Cursus pedagogical team, which makes a collective and individual assessment during the presentation of the mini-projects
  • The implementation and execution of the final project
  • The complete documentation of the final project
  • The student's attendance throughout the Cursus program

A general assessment of the student's work by the composer associated with the Cursus is included certificate of achievement.