Philippe Manoury is regarded as one of the most important French composers, in addition to being a researcher and forerunner in the field of live electronics. Despite an in-depth training as a pianist and composer – he was taught by Max Deutsch (a student of Schoenberg's), Gérard Condé, Michel Philippot, and Ivan Malec, among others – he considers himself to be self-taught. “The composition must be born from an inner longing, and requires no preconditions.” Accordingly, he began his first compositional experiments on his own in parallel to his first lessons in music, and, at the age of 19, his works were already being performed at major festivals for new music. His breakthrough culminated with the premiere of his piano piece Cryptophonos in 1974, interpreted by Claude Helffer.
Following two years of teaching at Brazilian universities, his compositional interest in mathematical models brought Philippe Manoury to the Paris Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM). He worked there from 1981 together with the mathematician Miller Puckette on MAX-MSP, a programming language for interactive live electronics. Between 1987 and 1991, he composed Sonus ex machina, a cycle focusing on the real-time interaction between acoustic instruments and computer-generated sounds – a topic that continues to influence his artistic work and theoretical texts.