Montreux Jazz Digital Project

In partnership with the Claude Nobs Foundation and with the support of numerous sponsors, EPFL is in charge of the project to digitize and enrich the famous collection of Montreux Jazz Festival recordings, and preserve it for the next generations.

Claude Nobs, Founder and director of the Montreux Jazz Festival, with the 14'000 tapes inscribed in the UNECO Memory of the world Register

First audiovisual library registered to UNESCO's Memory of the world

Recorded from the beginning in the highest quality professional formats, both in video and multitrack audio, the collection built up by the festival and its visionary creator Claude Nobs has brought together 5,000 concerts since 1967, representative of the greatest artists and musical trends of the last 50 years. The collection features unique performances from David Bowie, Miles Davis, BB King, Ray Charles, Dizzie Gillepsie, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Prince, Nina Simone, Sting and many others. It was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Memory of the world Register in 2013.  

Digitization and Preservation

Since 2010, the CHC center has been responsible for the digitization of the collection, which includes more than 25 audio and video formats covering almost the entire evolution of magnetic tape media – from Philips VCR to Sony HDCAM. More than 11’000 hours of video, and 6000 hours of audio (including multi-track) have been inventoried, digitized (in uncompressed format), documented and stored by EPFL on 3 copies – two LTO sets and one hard disk server. All the metadata are gathered in a relational database set up by the CHC center, to which more than 100’000 photos, anecdotes and interviews are also integrated. The processing of most of the audiovisual material was completed in 2016, with many additional batches currently being recovered and digitized.

Digitization setup for playback of the HDCAM tapes, used from 1997 to 2016 at the Montreux Jazz Festival
Team of EPFL students at work for concert indexing
First storage server of type “Object Storage” provided by Amplidata and used at CHC between 2012 and 2015 (1 Petabyte capacity)

From a collection to a material for innovation, research and education

For EPFL, this audiovisual heritage represents an innovation platform, a research infrastructure, a vector for education. This unique database is made available to the researcher laboratories, students and EPFL partners working in fields such as acoustics, audio/video signal processing, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, virtual reality, musicology, sociology or artistic fields, as well as museology, design and architecture when it comes to creating spaces that allow the public to immerse themselves in new experiences of immersive concert reproduction.

Several hundreds of researchers are involved in multiples actions since 2010. Part of such actions are described in the Projects and Education pages, while the archiving and digitization aspects about the Montreux Jazz collections will be described in the center’s archiving pages.

Jazz Luminaries

The Jazz Luminaries dome, developed by the EPFL Laboratory for Experimental Museology allows navigation in the archives from an animated visualisation of the Montreux musicians’ network designed by data artist Kirell Benzi.

Jazz Luminaries @ EPFL Pavillons, © Catherine Leutenegger, 2019

The EPFL Montreux Jazz Café

A Montreux Jazz Café was created in 2016 on the EPFL campus. Integrated to the EPFL Pavilions building, it allows for public showcase of the archives and new technologies developed by EPFL and its partners or associated startups. During the opening hours of the café, the concerts of the Montreux Jazz festival can be discovered, either in individual cabins or in the immersive installation Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab II, developed by the design lab EPFL+ECAL Lab, the ALICE Lab in architecture, and several partners in acoustics such as Sphereo or PSI Audio.

Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab II

Concert discovery in the Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab II, © Marc Ducrest, 2016

Concert discovery in the Montreux Jazz Heritage Lab II, © Adrien Barakat, 2016

Montreux Jazz Café EPFL

EPFL Montreux Jazz Café, © 2016 Adrien Barakat

For More Information

=> Concept and ecosystem (status 2022)

=> Article published in the “Journal of Digital Media Management”, 2019

=> Paper in “Revue Electronique Suisse de Science de l’Information”, 2017

=> Keynote Presentation“Digital Directions”, NFSA, Australia, 2019

=> Video created by one of the sponsors of the project :

Public presence of the Montreux Jazz Digital Project during the festival

Montreux Jazz Memories Studio

Consultation of concerts and recording studio for the collection of testimonies from the public. Collaboration with


Designed by the EPFL+ECAL Lab for an immersive discovery of the concerts. Partnership with the ALICE laboratory and the Illusonic company.

Concerts in virtual reality

360 degree video / 3D audio capture for a live VR experience from the stage. Collaboration with PRG Lab, Rayshaper, Tsinghua University, Sphereo and EPFL’s MMSPG laboratory.

Montreux Jazz Artists Galaxy

Artistic data visualization for the network of Montreux Jazz Festival musicians. By Kirell Benzi in collaboration with LTS2 Lab.

DNA data storage

Two songs from the Montreux Jazz Festival stored onto DNA. Project with Twist Bioscience in collaboration with University of Washington and Microsoft Research.

Montreux Jazz Odyssey

Bringing the gamers to play with concert samples from the archive, the Montreux Jazz Odyssey is the first version of an escape game created by 4 students of the Game Lab UNIL – EPFL.