Claudine SIMON : prepared and hybrid piano, Vivien TRELCAT : computer lutherie, machine performer

Usually translated as “nature”, Phusis means all that is and happens, that is, nature in its broadest possible dimension. The totality of what is or happens, the events or processes, is considered both in its being and in its change or movement.

Phúsis is a duo of improvisers who assert a strong 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 by the Sonopopée collective thanks to a commission made to Claudine Simon by the GMEM-CNCM of Marseille. The duo expresses itself around the augmented piano thanks to a set of devices and issues that arise from it.

The first device consists in a preparation of the piano. The addition of objects (magnets, vibrators, sound bodies…) and materials (adhesive paste, rock, glass…) mainly intended for the strings, affects the timbres of the instrument. To this device is added the possibility for the interpreter to put directly in resonance the piano thanks to sticks of percussions and other more unusual exciters.

The second device is a set of electromechanical prostheses, controlled by the performer via a controller setup and a software lutherie. Developed by the Sonopopée collective, this set of robots with various profiles (servomotor, solenoids, electromagnets), acts on the strings and the structure of the piano by putting into action sticks, balls and other percussion instruments, or by acting on the strings by magnetic beats (without contact).

The third device is articulated around the electroacoustic device and the computerized lutherie (MaxMsp, GigPerformer). From microphones that pick up the timbres of the instrument, the sound is diffused, transformed and spatialized by a multiphonic system of speakers.

This hybridization, proceeding from the play and the needs of the pianist, multiplies tenfold her possibilities of creation on the level of the timbres and the interactions. This mutation of the instrument gives a new singular dimension to this project: the pianist is herself hybridized by the addition of a binomial.

The potentialities of this duo constitute one of the axes of reflection of this research. The second performer, “puppeteer” of the sound transformation, triggers the action of the machines, plays in interaction with the pianist, transforms and extends the sound. However the hybridization by the computer and robotic lutherie of the piano, also allows the emancipation of this machine performer. It can give birth to the unexpected, increasing the field of possibilities by freeing itself from the pianist, making richer and more varied the possibilities of balance between the play of the two protagonists.

Delegated production : GMEM-CNCM Marseille, development and et design Machines : Collectif Sonopopée (Max Lance, Vivien Trelcat, Nicolas Canot),  with the support of Saintex numérique Reims

–>> Extracts and interview