Claudine SIMON : prepared and hybrid piano

Vivien TRELCAT : electonical lutherie

In the first half of the 20th century, the composers Henry Cowell and John Cage considerably extended the field of possibilities of the piano. The first went inside the instrument to manipulate the strings directly. The second inserted various objects between the strings to transform it into a sort of percussion orchestra guided by the hazards of matter and movement.

This duo is part of this filiation, between sound engineering and artistic exploration. In complicity with Vivien Trelcat, Claudine Simon goes in search of the secrets hidden by her instrument by adding appendages, by touching it with electromechanical devices as well as with incongruous objects.

Much more than a high-tech performance, this duo of improvisers allows a dialogue with the instrument, its lutherie, its history, revealing the poetic relationship between the organic and mechanical bodies.

Delegated production : GMEM-CNCM Marseille, development and design Machines : Collectif Sonopopée, with the support of Saintex numérique Reims, Césaré-CNCM Reims

–>> Extracts and interview

The duo SIMON | TRELCAT is a duo of improvisers who assert a will to question the piano playing, the lutherie, its coupling with technology and the digital. The main axis of this collaboration is constituted around the hybridization of the piano realized by an electromechanical device which comes to transform the traditional lutherie and to disturb its use. The modelling of the instrument’s sound capacities opens up a new playing space.

The electroacoustic augmentation of the instrument, via a work of timbre by digital treatment allows to revisit the know-how, a knowledge to hear, in the instantaneousness of the improvisation. A new musical and gestural grammar takes shape.

This device was created in 2020-21 by the Sonopopée collective thanks to a commission from the GMEM-CNCM of Marseille.

 

Performative, visual and sound experience
Creation on March 10th 2021, Scène Nationale d’Orléans

Claudine Simon : conception, performing pianist – Vivien Trelcat : computer lutherie, machine performer – Pauline Simon : choreographic vision – Franck Lemonde : texts – Jacques-Benoit Dardant : lights, scenography, general management – Collectif Sonopopée (Vivien Trelcat, Max Lance, Nicolas Canot) development and design of the machines – Insa de Lyon students : prototypes of the machines

I have always considered the piano like a body, an organism. I have always wanted to know what was happening inside, what was this machinery, this frightful power rumbling and rolling under its wooden chest. Remembering the words of my professors who taught me how to tame it (we pianists have been, for that matter, educated like machines to look for the most precise movement every time) I do sense a significant artistic stake.
For a long time, I have been wanting to create a show, which would hold at its core this machine, this mass, its intensity and its mechanisms. In the meantime, I would like to investigate this particular hand-to-hand relation it imposes on the human machinery in order to achieve sound purposes.

Pianomachine proceeds from an organological study that I have pursued with engineering students from the INSA in Lyon. This study resulted in the creation of a prototypical Piano in which automated units (percussive tools, resonators, bouncy masses) are added to the piano organism and act on its strings and structure. The instrument is conceived as an extension of the interpreter’s active power. The added machines provoke chain reactions, in or out of sync, by the piano player.

A hand-to-hand relation is by nature one of struggle as much as one of desire, sensuality and pleasure, the lovers’ union. This relation is first and foremost the one that has been bonding man to machine for centuries. It involves the body as much as the brain cells or rather what one could designate as the body/brain. It is in fact a matter of resonance between those two bodies: the human and the instrument, to evoke their inner parts and their outer parts, what is shown to the eye, what is given to hear and what is not. A dialogue is built up between the two “subjects” through a performative mode of sound, verbal and gestural exchanges, a kind of visual narrative.

Delegated production: GMEM-CNCM Marseille https://gmem.org/production/pianomachine/

co-production La muse en circuit CNCM-Alforville, La Fondation Royaumont, Financed by the Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Supported by: Saintex culture numérique Reims, Insa de Lyon, Césaré CNCM-Reims, Malraux Scène Nationale Chambéry Savoie

claudine simon, comment s'en sortir sans sortir

direction and scenography : Frédérique Aït-Touati – Musical creation and play : Elise Dabrowski voice, double bass & Claudine Simon prepared piano, voice – Acousmatic music : Eric Broitmann – Lights and general management : Emmanuel Sauldubois – Choreographic support : Pauline Simon – Costumes : Céline Pigeot – Assistant director : Nina Ayachi – Assistant scenography : Margaux Folléa – Assistant lights : Victor Inisan
on texts by Ghérasim Luca

A tale of initiation and seduction, Comment s’en sortir sans sortir? is a celebration of the magical powers of music. Elise Dabrowski and Claudine Simon are only two on stage and yet it is an opera for voice, double bass, piano and electronic music that they compose and perform.

Heirs to the long tradition of fairies and magicians, from Purcell to Wagner, from Melusine to Starhawk, they are contemporary witches who take us into a dreamlike universe where pianos move and bows fly; a world where the hypnotic language of Gherasim Luca is spoken and where plants react to music. In this opera that questions our relationship with other living beings, we glimpse the mystery of matter through the spell of music and voice.

Production: Trepak, Zone Critique Co-production: Théâtre de Vanves, Hexagone Scène Nationale Arts Sciences Support: DRAC Ile-de-France, Mairie de Paris, ARCADI Île de France, CNV, Cité de la Voix de Vézelay, PSL, IRIS OCAVE Diffusion : Full Rhizome

by Samuel Sighicelli on a libretto by Pierre Kuentz

with : Noémi Boutin, cello & voice; Claudine Simon, prepared piano & voice; Jacques Benoît Dardant, lights, Sabine Novel, movement

The cellist Noémi Boutin and the pianist Claudine Simon extend their instrumental playing to the spoken voice and to the gestures induced by a very physical score. Gestures, words and sounds – meeting electronics – unite to express a critical state, where everything is questioned, where desires and fears collide, where the human being, behind the instrument, will crack. The musicians move us by the pathetic heroism with which they cross this absurd critical phase. After the slogans of self-persuasion and the lists of desires comes the time of a more personal and interior speech. The intimacy found, the sound and the time widen, here is that the ear opens, letting resurface the childhood which had remained lurking in the shade…

Conception, direction by Samuel Sighicelli – Text, Tanguy Viel.

An alchemy between Schubert’s Winterreise (“Winter Journey”) and the glacial adventure of a researcher in Antarctica.

Winter Song is a musical and scenic plunge into the Antarctic polar night, carried by the story freely inspired by a scientific mission of glaciologist Claude Lorius in 1984. During this mission, ice coring and chemical analysis revealed the first evidence of the influence of human activity on climate change.
The experience of the South Pole, described by Tanguy Viel and set to music and stage by Samuel Sighicelli, gradually gives way to lieder borrowed from Schubert’s “Winter Journey”. The romantic vision of the world as a “great soul” and the current scientific apprehension of the Earth can meet in one place, perhaps that place is at the very end of the world, in the night and the cold, where the icy ground delivers its ancestral secrets. A man – both the glaciologist on a mission and Schubert’s traveler – struggles in the cold: the music created here is alternately the landscape in which he evolves and the expression of what he experiences physically and internally.

The score is carried by two musicians and an actor, in a sound and visual device, where the interactions between text, light, sound and video draw a sensory polyphony. The borrowings from Schubert find a singular place, at the edge of the music, as if coming to us from far away in the storm…

Conception, direction Samuel Sighicelli
Music Samuel Sighicelli (with the complicity of Elise Dabrowsky and Claudine Simon), Franz Schubert (Lieder borrowed from the Winterreise cycle of Franz Schubert (text by W. Muller) and Mondnacht, lied by Robert Schumann (text by J.B. Von Eichendorff)

Original text Tanguy Viel, video Fabien Zocco, Set design Élodie Monet, Movement direction Marian Del Valle, Lights Nicolas Villenave / Sound, musical computing MAx Bruckert, Stage management Julien Duprat : With Elise Dabrowski mezzo soprano, double bass / Claudine Simon, piano / Dominique Tack, actor

Choreography: Sébastien Laurent – Original music: Claudine Simon and Eric Broitmann – Performance: Claudine Simon and Sébastien Laurent – Electroacoustic music: Eric Broitmann – Assistant to the choreography and dramaturgy: Pauline Simon – Lighting: Xavier Libois – Set design: Frédéric Hocké and Violaine Decazenove – Production: Compagnie Moi Peau

SOLI.DES: two solos that affirm their plural, that of the dancer with the stage, that of the musician with her instrument, as the challenge of each of these two to experience the multiple deployments of an incarnation. Two engaged bodies. The piano, this obscure object of desire. Beyond the notes, the piano as a partner in its own right. Instrument decomposed, deconstructed, musical strings, like a landscape from which whole cities emerge. The piano no longer accompanies the dancer, it pushes him, constrains him even in his body.
The music redefines the space, makes new forms emerge. To produce a music of notes, gestures and breathlessness.
Soli.des ? A trio rather than a duo, therefore, an exciting exploration beyond the relationship between dance and music.

Elise Dabrowski : vocals, double bass & Claudine Simon : prepared piano.

“RISS is the name of this duo. RISS as in fault or crack: the fault that lets the air in and circulates and allows communication between many musical worlds. The two musicians do not want to settle on one approach to music and only one. What they cultivate above all are the bridges, the crossed paths. “Anne Montaron”

This duo is made up of two classically trained musicians who are well versed in the art of improvisation. They are stretched in the same desire of subversion. For each of them, it is now years of sifting the writing and the musical forms to reverse the discursive and structural logic.

Here, using excerpts from well-known works by Schubert, Berg… works that have nourished and formed them, the two musicians decide to place themselves in the position of strangers.

To experiment instead of interpreting, that is the new posture. It is a question of creating, of deconstructing these pieces, of opening up to new possibilities that will bring new sensations, other emotions.

These chosen extracts will be manipulated, distorted, shifted by the means of improvisation and a resolutely contemporary writing (prepared instruments). This approach gives rise to the emergence of a second level of language. A language based on experimentation and which is created in reaction to the previous know-how.

In the confrontation of these musical languages, a poetic, verbal, spoken or musicalized language, that of Gherasim Luca, will be mixed. This Romanian poet proposes, moreover, with his work a similar route. Everything happens as if the poetry of Luca struggles at all ends of “song” against a language by too “common”. To split the words or to make stutter the language. To work at the limits of the saying, in its impossibilities, in direction of the childhood of a language, by deconstructing the commonplaces, stereotypes and clichés of the language with an ear of foreigner, because the foreigner hears differently, and by there to formulate new syntaxes, to open with new possible.

Claudine Simon phase music

“Phase Music” brings together musicians and visual artists around American minimalist repetitive music.

This performance gives us access to another type of listening, it allows us to follow the effects of sound and to glimpse its “magical” power. A state of auditory fascination results from the principles of insensitive transformations at work in the pieces selected for this performance.

On the other hand, a plastic device comes to highlight these processes and forms by installing a visual movement with the help of mirrors, their reflections and the vibrations produced.

The simultaneous association of sound and image plunges us into the heart of a perpetually changing universe, made up of games of frames and hypnotic moiré. We have the feeling that on this movement depends the stability of all that moves, or, even, the instability of reality…

“The only stable thing is the movement, everywhere and always” Jean Tinguely

Works by Steve Reich, Philip Glass, John Cage, John Adams, Terry Riley

Claudine Simon and Nathalie Petit-Rivière : piano

Joseph Schiano Di Lombo and François Salès : installation and video

An intellectual and subversive review, which handles satire and black humor in a grating and poetic atmosphere inspired by the Berlin cabaret of pre-war.
An authentic cabaret of today, the result of a collective work guided by Pierre Meunier, the show’s leader, from the proposals of the five musicians, the conductor, the singer and an aerial dancer.

When he wrote the cycle that was to change the course of twentieth-century music, Arnold Schönberg wanted the 21 melodramas based on Albert Giraud’s famous cycle to be “spoken and sung” in the language of the country where they were performed, in keeping with the very young tradition of Berlin cabaret. The poet’s verses were set to music by the composer in a very free German translation by Otto Erich Hartleben, stripped of their rhymes and the original metre. Thanks to his translation, which is as faithful to Schönberg’s prosody as it is to Hartleben’s version, Guillaume Bourgogne gives the French text the expressiveness and rhythm of the emphatic style of the cabarets and theaters of 1900.
Incorporated into a show with numbers, the cycle takes on its function of entertainment, where Pierre Meunier’s elucidations meet Michaux’s hallucinations, Satchie Noro’s aerial dance counterpoises Jessica Martin-Maresco’s punk voice, and Thierry de Mey and Guilhem Meier’s scores respond to the illustrious Viennese. Each musician of the Op.Cit ensemble, repainted for the occasion as a cabaret artist, lends himself with virtuosity to this poetic and absurd review.

Musical direction : Guillaume Bourgogne, Stage direction : Pierre Meunier, French adaptation : Guillaume Bourgogne

with : Pierre Meunier : actor, Satchie Noro : dancer, Jessica Martin-Maresco : voice, Sabine Tavenard : flute, Alexis Ciesla : clarinet, Claudine Simon : piano, Albane Genat : violin & viola, Noémi Boutin : cello

Lighting design : Hervé Frichet, Sound design : Frédéric Finand, Costumes : Emily Cauwet

Music : Pierrot Lunaire / Arnold Schönberg, La Chute / Guilhem Meier, Silence must be / Thierry de Mey, Densité 21,5 / Edgar Varese, Pisse / Guilhem Meier

Once upon a time is an instrumental theater show where the music, through its dramatic dimension and its gestures, takes on a humorous, critical, parodic or esoteric character…
On the menu: Living-room music for percussion and “discussion quartet” which, like Satie’s furniture music, suspends time and can be tasted like a snapshot; then a composition inspired by Murnau’s silent film Nosferatu featuring the fierce and tragic struggle of a pianist with a metronome, whose beat is permanently disrupted and, as the icing on the cake, the manifestation of an “incarnate nail” who joins in the game…

So many action scenes with a strange, amusing, fantastic, fascinating or ridiculous character that also have the characteristic of questioning the notion of musical work.

with : Jean-philippe Grometto : flute, Violaine Launay : double bass, Jean-michel pirollet : saxophone, claudine Simon : piano, Joël Schatzman : light creation, Omid Hashemi : video