Michel Chion is an experimental music composer, teacher and theorist. He teaches at several institutions in France and currently holds the post of Associate Professor at the University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle where he is a theoretician and teacher of audio-visual relationships.
Michel Chion was born in 1947 in Creil (France). After literary and musical studies, he began in 1970 to work for the ORTF (French Radio and Television Organization) Service de la recherche, where he was assistant to Pierre Schaeffer at the Paris' Conservatoire national de musique, producer of broadcasts for the GRAM, and publications director for the Ina-GRM, of which he was a member from 1971 to 1976. It was there that he met Robert Cahen, composer and video artist, and with whom he entered into a long-lasting friendship and collaboration.
Parallel to these activities, he composed musique concrète works in the studios of the GRAM including Requiem (Grand prix du disque 1978) and several concrète melodramas, a dramatic form which he inaugurated in 1972 with Le prisonnier du son [The Prisoner of Sound] and continued with Tu, 1977-85, La tentation de saint Antoine, 1984, and Nuit noire, 1985. Also worthy of mention are La Roue, cycle du quotidien, 1972-85, 24 préludes à la vie [24 Preludes to Life], Variations, and Sonate, 1989-91, Crayonnés ferroviaires, 1992, Credo mambo, 1992 — realized at Musiques & Recherches (Ohain, Belgium), Gloria, 1994... all works for which he developed original compositional techniques.
He also works as a theoretician in a new area: the systematic study of audio-visual relationships, which he teaches at several centres (notably at Université de Paris III where he is an Associate Professor), and film schools (ESEC, Paris; DAVI, Lausanne) which has developed in a series of five books. Besides the twenty written publications translated into a dozen languages, he has also written on Pierre Henry, François Bayle, Charlie Chaplin, Jacques Tati, David Lynch, diverse subjects on music and film; he has published in French and international journals, and has contributed to numerous dictionaries and encyclopedias. He has also commenced work in film direction and production with the short film Éponine (Prix Jean-Vigo, prizes in Clermont-Ferrand, and in Montréal). Most recently in 1995, he has begun an audio-visual piece entitled Messe de terre at the CICV Pierre Schaeffer in Montbéliard (France).
After having dedicated his Guide des objets sonores to the ideas of Schaeffer, he continued with Le promeneur écoutant, essais d'acoulogie (Plume, éditeur, 1993), and finally with Musique, médias, technologies (Flammarion), a theory of sound based on language. In 1991 he published, with the support of Jérôme Noetinger, L'art des sons fixés in which he proposes, in order to properly designate this music, the return to the term ‘musique concrète' in its initial non-causal sense. His redefinition insists upon the effects particular to the fixation of sound, a term which he proposes in place of recording.
- Selected monographs
- with Guy Reibel, Les musiques électroacoustiques, Aix-en-Provence: Ina/Edisud, 1976, 344 pp.  (French)
- La voix au cinéma, Editions de l'Etoile/Cahiers du Cinéma, 1982, 144 pp.  (French)
- The Voice in Cinema, ed. & trans. Claudia Gorbman, Columbia University Press, 1999, 183 pp. (English)
- Guide des objets sonores: Pierre Schaeffer et la recherche musicale, Paris: Buchet/Chastel; Bry-sur-Marne: Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, 1983; 1995, 187 pp.  (French)
- Guide To Sound Objects: Pierre Schaeffer and Musical Research, trans. John Dack and Christine North, London, 2009, 212 pp. (English)
- Écrire un scénario, Paris: Cahiers du Cinéma/Ina, 1985, 222 pp.  (French)
- Napisati scenarij, trans. Brane Kovič, Ljubljana: Ekran, 1987, 176 pp. (Slovenian)
- Bir senaryo yazmak, trans. Tanyolaç Öztokat, Istanbul: Afa Yayınları, 1987, xv+258 pp. (Turkish)
- Cómo se escribe un guión, trans. Dolores Jiménez Plaza, Madrid: Catedra, 1988, 219 pp. (Spanish)
- Napisati scenario, trans. Gordana Velmar-Janković, Belgrade: Naučna knjiga: Institut za film, 1989, 219 pp. (Serbian)
- O roteiro de cinema, São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1989, 288 pp. (Brazilian Portuguese)
- Ying shi ju zuo fa [影視劇作法], Beijing: Zhongguo guang bo dian shi chu ban she, 1991, 230 pp. (Chinese)
- Techniken des Drehbuchschreibens, trans. Silvia Berutti-Ronelt, Berlin: Alexander, 2001, 267 pp. (German)
- L'audio-vision: son et image au cinéma, Paris: Nathan, 1990; new ed., Paris: Colin, 2005; new ed., Paris: Colin, 2017.  (French)
- La audiovisión: introducción a un análisis conjunto de la imagen y el sonido, trans. Antonio Lopez Ruiz, Barcelona: Paidós, 1993, 206 pp. (Spanish)
- Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen, ed. & trans. Claudia Gorbman, forew. Walter Murch, Columbia University Press, 1994, 239 pp; 2nd ed., Columbia University Press, 2018. (English)
- L'audiovisione: suono et immagine nel cinema, trans. Dario Buzzolan, Turin: Lindau, 1997. (Italian)
- Audio-Vision. Ton und Bild im Kino, ed. J.U. Lensing, trans. Alexandra Fuchs and J.U. Lensing, Berlin: Schiele & Schön, 2012, 214 pp. (German)
- L'audio-vision, Hannarae Publishing, 2003. (Korean)
- L'audio-vision, 2014. (Chinese)
- L'art des sons fixés, ou, La musique concrètement, Metamkine/Nota Bene/Sono-Concept, 1991, 104 pp. (French)
- Die Kunst fixierter Klänge, oder die Musique Concrètement, trans. Ronald Voullié, ed. Reinhold Friedl, Berlin: Merve, 2010, 144 pp. (German)
- Le son, Paris: Nathan-Université, 1998, 342 pp; repr., Paris: Colin, 2004, 342 pp; 2nd ed., corr., as Le son: traité d'acoulogie, Paris: Colin, 2010, 271 pp.  (French)
- El sonido: música, cine, literatura, trans. Enrique Folch González, Barcelona: Paidós, 1999, 413 pp. (Spanish)
- Sheng yin [声音], trans. Aigong Zhang, Beijing: Bei jing da xue chu ban she, 2013, 439 pp. (Chinese)
- Sound: An Acoulogical Treatise, trans. & intro. James A. Steintrager, Duke University Press, 2016, xxvi+283 pp. Review: Wissa (Reviews in Culture). (English)
- Un art sonore, le cinema, Cahiers du Cinéma, 2003, 480 pp.  (French)
- Film, a Sound Art, trans. Claudia Gorbman, Columbia University Press, 2009, 536 pp. (English)
- Audio-Logo-Vision im Kinofilm: Geschichte, Ästhetik, Poesie, ed. J.U. Lensing, trans. Alexandra Fuchs and Juliane Mascow, Berlin: Schiele & Schön, 2018, 380 pp. (German)
- The Thin Red Line, London: BFI Publishing, 2004, 96 pp.  (English)
- La ligne rouge, Chatou: Transparence, 2005, 112 pp. (French)
- Le complexe de Cyrano. La langue parlée dans les films français, Cahiers du cinéma, 2008, 192 pp.   (French)
- L'écrit au cinéma, Paris: Colin, 2013, xxxii+233 pp.  (French)
- Words on Screen, ed. & trans. Claudia Gorbman, Columbia University Press, 2017, xvii+245+ pp. (English)
- By Thomas Baumgartner for L'Atelier du Son on radio France Culture, February 2013. Audio, 1h.