upic book
composition tools

The UPIC (Unité Polyagogique Informatique CEMAMu) a pioneering computerized music composition tool was first conceived in the 1950s by Iannis Xenakis. It is one of the first graphic interfaces for designing sound and structuring compositions. Drawing becomes the main vector of creation, enabling the user to hand-design all parameters. It was obvious that the UPIC could also revolutionize music pedagogy by demystifying traditional Western music notation. Access to this tool created unprecedented experiences for potential creators and audiences– including the blind and very young children. Audiences can be creative as composers as well perceptive in listening. It creates an understanding of the creative process in composition. Making the audience compose helps bring contemporary to a wider audience.


UPIC has undergone several “upgrades” since its inception and the project intends to take this extremely versatile system one step further (in collaboration with the CIX and the Université de Rouen) in order to expand the environment’s capabilities and improve its compatibility with contemporary DSP tools. This book will be a documentation of the system’s on-going development and use aiming to cover technical descriptions, testimony from composers and other users, and illustrate this tool’s rich history and potential.

organised by:
ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie