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MusArtS, FAPESP and Ircam

José Fernando Perez

The plain beauty of Igor Stravinsky square, next to the Pompidou Center, in Paris, leads one?s gaze naturally to the playful and seductive sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle. This may even lead one to fail to notice the subtle architecture of the building on the corner, where the Institut de Recherche e Coordination Acoustique/Musique, Ircam, is installed, created in 1969 by Pierre Boulez, one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. In front of the building, a sign (photo on the right) describes in a succinct and precise form the mission of the institute: a) to carry out research into Musical Acoustics and Technology; b) to transfer knowledge to the various sectors of industry; c) to promote educational activities for specialists and for the public in general.

Since its creation, Ircam has been an international point of reference and source of inspiration for the organization of research in this interface between music, science and technology. Musicians and researchers from all over the world take training there, to attend its courses, use its installations, and interact with the scientific and musical excellence of its environment. Ircam?s contribution extends also to technological development, with its research having contributed even to the generation of patents, with products whose importance stretches far away from the field of acoustics and music. The aeronautical industry and the theory for the flow of gases are examples of this wide-ranging spectrum.

It is fascinating to note the coincidences between this mission and the mission defined by FAPESP for its ten Research, Innovation and Diffusion Centers (Cepids) ? an experimental program, instituted in 2000, which is testing a new paradigm for the organization of research. In fact, each one of these centers should: a) carry out multidisciplinary research in their respective areas of knowledge; b) develop effective strategies for transferring the knowledge generated, by means of partnerships with companies and with the government; c) implement innovative educational projects at all levels ? that is to say, both for specialists and for students from elementary and secondary schools.

Inspired on the Ircam model and on FAPESP?s experience with the Cepids, the proposition for a new program has been born,Musica Articulata Scientia (MusArtS), the Virtual Music and Technology Institute. MusArtS is to be a FAPESP program dedicated to research into Music and Technology, open to the participation of all the researchers from the state of São Paulo, with a mission that is identical to Ircam?s mission, but with a virtual and decentralized structure. It is a matter of using the same successful strategies of the genome and Biota projects ? the latter to study all the biodiversity of the state ? for the development of projects of great complexity.

This collaborative strategy, without any costs with infrastructure in buildings and administration, is ideal for our era, dominated by the Internet. MusArtS does not intend to be a replica of Ircam, but it should be a Brazilian response to the same challenges.What makes a program like MusArtS viable is, without a doubt, the quality of the researchers who have been working in the state, many with the support of FAPESP, on projects on the Music-Technology interface. The enthusiasm of these leaders and their willingness to work in a cooperative manner will, alone, lead to the success of the venture.

The intensive interaction brought about by the workshops and talks that took placed from August 11 to 15 made it possible to create the basis for a stable collaboration between Ircam and MusArtS in over a dozen research projects. The excellence of the research activity under way in the state and financed by FAPESP was widely recognized.

FAPESP is proud of this initiative, the launch of which, with the presence of Ircam in São Paulo, besides preparing for the works of MusArtS to begin, constitutes a landmark in the cultural life of the city and the state. The Foundation is also happy to have brought about an innovative partnership with Ircam, the Itaú Cultural Institute, the Technological Documentation Center (CenDoTeC), the French Consulate in São Paulo, Culture FM Radio and so many others that made this event possible.

José Fernando Perez is FAPESP?s scientific director.