Redolfi describes his concerts as a sensory utopia, in which new sounds are discovered in the unique environment, ranging from Homo-parleurs (body speakers) in Whoops! (1977) to 'sleep-in' concerts (l'Écume de la Nuit at Roman Baths of Strasbourg during 1984 Festival Musica). Born in Marseille, Michel Redolfi gave up classical music studies at the age of eighteen to explore an emerging field of electroacoustic and tape music. In 1969, he co-founded GMEM (Groupe de musique expérimentale de Marseille) with Marcel Frémiot and Georges Boeuf.
In 1973, Redolfi moved to the USA and appeared as a guest resident at several major computer music research centers, such as Bregman Digital Music Studio at Dartmouth College (directed by Jon Appleton), University of Wisconsin-Madison studios, where Michel started collaborating with Daniel R. Harris, and California Institute Of The Arts. From 1977 to 1984, Michel Redolfi worked at the UC San Diego, where Center For Music Experiment had been funding his pioneering research in a liquid environment music broadcasting, also known as Project WET – Water Electronically Tuned.
Redolfi debuted with Sonic Waters, the first concert in history where music was broadcasted underwater for a large audience floating or submerged in diving suits, at San Diego Bay in 1981, and gave over 50 performances around Europe and USA in the following three years. With an immediate success of this innovative way of listening, Michel Redolfi organized more underwater concerts at swimming pools, ocean bays, and lakes in the following years: Nucléus '89 in Antibes and Nice; Crysallis '92 opera, premiered at Grenoble / Echirolles Olympic pool with Japanese soprano Yumi Nara and percussionist Alex Grillo during the '38e Rugissants' new music festival (performed again in Amsterdam '98); Brisbane '91, Lisbon '93, Virtual Lagoon '98 at Sydney Festival. Some of the recent subaqueous live performances include La Citta Liquida at the 2006 Venice Biennale (nominated for the Music Golden Lion award), and Nuit Blanche (2006) in Paris, as well as two Monte Carlo shows, commissioned by Walt Disney Pictures for 'The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning' press screening in 2008.
After returning to France, Michel Redolfi served as the director of the Centre International De Recherche Musicale (CIRM) in Nice from 1987 to 1998, simultaneously leading a contemporary music festival MANCA (Musiques Actuelles Nice-Côte d'Azur). In 2003, he established Audionaute, an independent production studio and label focused on underwater music and related innovative projects. Redolfi's studio was commissioned to create an immersive sound design environment for Nice tramway system in 2007.
As a composer, Michel Redolfi had written instrumental and vocal pieces for Thomas Bloch, Pierre-Yves Artaud, Jean-Paul Celea, Steve Shehan, Jean-Pierre Drouet, Michael Lonsdale, Yumi Nara, and Susan Belling (Vox In Vitro opera with Belling's electronically-reenacted voice, originally performed in November 2000 in complete darkness at the Abbaye Saint-Bénigne scriptorium in Dijon). He also wrote music for Roland Petit, Patrice Barthès, Brigitte Lefebvre, Jean Marc Matos and other choreographers, produced sound design for Luc Besson's Le Grand Bleu film and several animation works by William Latham, and created several works for radio, such as Walkdog series for France Culture and Riviera Roulette for WDR The Cologne Broadcasts. In collaboration with painter Hervé Di Rosa, Redolfi produced Berceuses and Jungle CD/artbooks, published by Albin Michel in Livre/Laser series.
Michel Redolfi released over 15 albums on INA-GRM, Cezame, Radio France's Signature, hat ART, Inner Ear Records and other labels. His debut album Immersion / Pacific Tubular Waves (1980), dedicated to Jon Appleton (one of the inventors of original Synclavier digital synthesizer prototype) was released in France with a stereoscopic cover and a pair of red-green glasses. The record included a Pacific Tubular Waves (1979), commissioned by Groupe De Recherches Musicales and nominated for Luigi Russolo Award in Italy, and Redolfi's first underwater piece Immersion (1980). In April '79, Michel used waterproof equipment to broadcast 'Tubular Waves' while diving off Windanesea and Birdrock shores in La Jolla, California, and captured a natural re-interpretation of his composition by ocean currents and stones moving on the bottom with a hydra-phone. The composer selected three short movements from the original underwater recording, and added four Synclavier pieces, conceiving the entire piece as a slow dive from the Surface to Total Immersion. In 2015, the album was re-released on LP by Editions Mego as a part of their archival Recollection GRM series. More underwater music was published on Sonic Waters 2xLP in 1984, Sonic Waters #2 (Underwater Music) 1983 - 1989 CD, as well as Crysallis / Liquid City - Underwater Music '97 CD collection, and Underwater Music album in 2002.
In 1988, INA-GRM released Redolfi's first compact disc, Desert Tracks, comprised of Pacific Tubular Waves and a new 'Desert Tracks' project, commissioned by California Institute Of The Arts and partially funded by the National Endowment For The Arts. Inspired by the Californian deserts, the composer began researching sound hallucinations triggered by light, and the influence of visual on the perception of landscape's acoustics through L'Œil Écoute, the 'eye listening.' Trying to capture those hypothetical poly-sensorial desert tones, Redolfi travelled to Mojave Desert, Death Valley, and Palm Canyon with one of the first portable digital recorders, where he used directional studio Neumann RSM 191 microphones on stands, as well as binaural Sennheiser MKE 2002 in-ear microphones, which allowed him to wander hands-free in order to create a stereophonic 'zoom,' travelling effect in the sound landscape. Michel Redolfi sampled the initial recordings into short segments, digitally orchestrating them for the array of synthesizers at CalArts Studio via MIDI interface. A few months later, he assembled and mixed final lengthy stereophonic soundscapes at the CIRM studios in Nice. Michel dedicated this work to Walt Disney, CalArts founder and the director of 'Living Desert' film. In 2016, Sub Rosa re-issued Desert Tracks on CD and vinyl in the label's Early Electronic Series. More electroacoustic and contemporary classical compositions appeared on Appel D'Air '93 CD, Sons-Frissons (2012) and Music On Mars (2014).
Beyond the Underwater Music project, Michel Redolfi has been exploring other unusual ways to engage with a listener. He created permanent site-specific sound designs for various parks and museums across France, such as Parc de La Villette, Fondation Maeght, Marineland d'Antibes, and Disneyland in Paris, and composed electroacoustic works for 'speakers-orchestra' and multi-channel broadcasts (Radio France, Amsterdam Planetarium, World Expo in Seville). In 1991, Redolfi in collaboration with Luc Martinez and Michel Pascal created music to accompany an exhibition at the Centre National de la Mer Nausicaā in Boulogne-sur-Mer. Originally only available on limited edition promo CD Nausicaā: Bande Originale De L'Exposition, Nausicaā soundtrack was re-issued in expanded form (but without Pascal and Martinez tracks) as Nausicaā - Musique Originale on Redolfi's Audionaute label in 2004.
Redolfi's music had been performed at numerous international festivals and prestigious concert venues, including Ars Electronica (Linz), Présences Électronique (Paris), Dijon, Festival Why Note, Festival De Música Dos Capuchos (Lisbon), Acousmatic Cycle at Maison de Radio France, Festival 38e Rugissants (Grenoble), Cal Arts Festival (Los Angeles), Musica Festival (Strasbourg), Gaudeamus Festival (Amsterdam), Musiques en Scène (Lyon), Teatro alla Scala, Milano, and Royal Festival Hall in London.