photo: Veera Vehkasalo


For viola and live electronics






Thien-Bao Pham Vu, EsPro IRCAM Paris


The focus of this piece was directed towards two main aspects: the relationship between me as a composer, the instrumentalist and the extended instrument, and the relationship between the “body” of the viola, the “body” of the loudspeaker. The creative process to reach the final result would not have been possible without an extended research phase on the instrument, both hardware and software, followed by four months of collaborative praxis with the player.

The first step has been to re-imagine the idea of instrument and to design the interactions with the electronics. The guidelines in this practice have been to create a timbral continuity between the acoustics and the electronics, that I achieved with three hybridization techniques.

I selected some physical traits of the viola that could enhance its physical body properties (small size, wood acoustic properties, strings and bow texture), mostly in the realm of articulated noises (bow scratches, overpressure, on the tailpiece and so on) and at the same time I started collecting a certain number of diffusing devices with quite different timbral characteristics. In the final version, two megaphones, a cheap multimedia surround system, a “ragged” consumer hi-fi system and a few actuators on cardboard boxes of different sizes, were all used in combination with the overwhelming sound-bathing 8.1 diffusion system of the Ircam's EsPro. This gave me a quite interesting relationship between a huge diffused, auratic “soundwall” and a certain number of small, localized, band-limited sound sources, in an almost prosthetic relationship with the wooden body of the instrument on stage. The first created a completely virtual spatial relationship, obtained with a severe processing and a heavy contribution of the reverberation properties of the hall, and the second relying on a “physical”, unmediated one.

Thien-Bao Pham Vu - Viola

Andrea Mancianti - live electronics