Design of a new piano instrument, a piano hybridized by machines
Since 2019 I have been conducting organological research on my instrument. After having conducted a research of timbres around the prepared piano, I wanted to extend this work, to deepen it with an instrument that I finally imagined on measure.
I did a first six-month research phase with thirty students from INSA Lyon, supervised by two professors. The students built prototypes that allowed me to make the first experiments with the machines in the piano. The Sonopopée collective, composed of Vivien Trelcat, Max Lance and Nicolas Canot, which is a collective specialized in computer, electronic and hybrid instruments, has totally rethought my device.
This technology gives me the possibility to open a new playing space inside the piano, to make a kind of sound autopsy. By grafting machines into the body of the piano, I come closer to the notion of the “desiring machine” also considered as a “body without organs” proper to the reflections of Deleuze and Artaud. Here, these forces contribute to undoing the hierarchy of the instrument’s original organs. The usual zones of listening are thus displaced, even disinvested. A new space opens up, which offers the possibility of new mechanisms, arrangements, circulation.
The instrument was realized thanks to a commission from GMEM-CNCM Marseille and the support of Saintex Culture Numérique Reims, Insa de Lyon.
Two projects are created in 2021 from this device :
- Pianomachine – scenic form. Creation in March 2021 at the Scène Nationale d’Orléans
- Labo Pianomachine – in duo with Vivien Trelcat, machine and electroacoustic performer
-> Extracts and interview with Vivien Trelcat
-> Development of the lutherie – GMEM
-> live – la Muse en Circuit
The Sonopopée collective designed the digitally controlled electromechanical device that hybridizes and augments the piano’s lutherie, following an initial period of research and prototyping (from January to June 2019) led by Claudine Simon with students from INSA Lyon.Sonopopée works on the rationalization, standardization, and simplification of the different systems and their adaptation to the context of the stage (ease of installation, stability, size, visual unity, solidity and transportability) and to the aesthetic stakes of the project.
This lutherie allows a real writing as well as a sound improvisation for the interpreter, whether it is the pianist herself or a second instrumentalist at the controls of the electromechanics and electroacoustics. The main idea is to think of a four-handed interpretation: a pianist accompanied by an interpreter for the machines and the transformations of the sound in real time and in multiphonic.
Sonopopée intervenes at several levels in the computer lutherie: control box and control protocol, interpretation software (aesthetic algorithms, playability, sound design).