R.I.P. Electronic Music Pioneer Jean-Claude Risset

R.I.P. Electronic Music Pioneer Jean-Claude Risset
French electronic visionary Jean-Claude Risset has sadly died. According to French media reports, Risset passed away on Monday (November 21) in Marseille. He was 78.

Alongside the likes of Pierre Henry, Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Boulez, Risset brought early electronic music into new, unexplored territories. With a training in physics, piano and composition, he is often seen as the first French musician to ever use computers for composition and music production.

Born in 1938, Risset began his music career in his early 20s when he studied composition under the guidance of André Jolivet, before joining fellow electronic music pioneer Max Matthews in 1964 at Bell Labs in New Jersey. Together, Risset and Matthews help create the MUSIC IV software to digitally recreate the sounds of brass instruments.

Risset authored a thesis on the synthesis and perception of musical sounds in 1967. He is credited with performing the first experiments on a range of synthesis techniques, including FM Synthesis and waveshaping. And while continuing to research the use of computers and composition in France, he helped with the formation of IRCAM, which he led alongside Pierre Boulez from 1975 to 1979.

Risset released a wide array of albums throughout his career, with 1969's Mutations standing as one of his best known works. The title track of this album was featured on Music from Computer, a compilation released by Editions Mego offshoot Recollection GRM in 2014. You can revisit Exclaim!'s glowing review of Music from Computer here.