Les Chemins de Traverse
Carrels 11C
CH - 2034 Peseux Neuchâtel

Harpejji solo

Développement d'un langage

L'harpejji est un instrument électro-acoustique à mi-chemin entre la guitare et le clavier. Inventé en 2007 et commercialisé depuis 2008, c'est donc un instrument très nouveau pour lequel tout est à inventer: pas de méthode, de technique "officielle", de répertoire ou de représentation sonore sur lesquelles s'appuyer.

Depuis 2014, un des axes de recherche de Matthieu Amiguet a été de développer des techniques d'accompagnement à l'harpejji. Ce travail a pu se concrétiser non seulement sous forme de concerts, animations et vidéos, mais également sous la forme d'articles pédagogiques sur son blog et contributions à des forums, afin que sa recherche soit utile plus largement à la communauté des harpejjistes. Les articles et vidéos jouissent d'une visibilité internationale et ont attiré l'attention de personnes telles que Tim Meeks, inventeur de l'harpejji, ou Paul Mirkovich, directeur musical de The Voice US.

Après les techniques d'accompagnement, Matthieu Amiguet désire maintenant prolonger ce travail par une recherche sur les techniques de jeu solo. Hybride entre la guitare et le clavier, l'harpejji peut emprunter des éléments de technique à ces deux instruments, mais rien n'est directement transposable. Il y a donc tout un travail pour identifier le répertoire se prêtant à une transposition (pour les pièces écrites) et développer un "vocabulaire" adéquat pour l'improvisation.

Au printemps 2023, il a obtenu une bourse de recherche de la Ville de Neuchâtel pour l'accompagner un bout dans cette démarche de longue haleine.

Ce n'est donc pas à proprement parler un projet des Chemins de Traverse, mais, dans le plus pur esprit de la Scène de création continue des Chemins de Traverse, il a été décidé d'ouvrir ici une tribune pour documenter ses recherches, .

NB Pour permettre à la communauté internationale de l'harpejji de bénéficier au mieux de ces informations, les actualités de ce projet seront rédigées en anglais.

Sur scène

Chemin de création

16 août 2023

Harpejji solo 7 - Free improvisation

(This news is part of the Harpejji solo project)

I like to warm up with a moment of free improvisation. Today a colleague arrived just at this moment and took out her smartphone...

[video coming soon]

26 juin 2023

Harpejji solo 6 - using the Bela as an FX box?

rpi and bela

(This news is part of the Harpejji solo project)

When I play the harpejji, I usually run the bass side through an equalizer to get a more balanced sound over the whole instrument. Then I've got some reverb and, from time to time, a couple of effects. I've been doing it through my usual gig rig, with a laptop and a rack with a big sound interface, a reverb unit, a mixer... It works very well, but it makes moving the whole thing quite tiresome.

I've got this bela board sleeping on a shelf... wouldn't it be cool if I could use it as a very portable DIY FX box?

However, after some exploration, it seems pyo doesn't work any more on the bela, and I don't want to develop a whole new processing chain with a new tool. I guess I'll have to find another way to do it...

16 juin 2023

Harpejji solo 5 - New harpejji case

Harpejji case

(This news is part of the Harpejji solo project)

When I bought my harpejji back in 2013, the only available case was a very sturdy, but also very heavy, flight case. That doesn't encourage carrying the instrument around. So I decided to purchase a soft case with backpack strap so that it gets easier to take it with me for a rehearsal or a gig. As it happens, the Mono Vertigo Keyboard 61 Case fits the instrument perfectly!

09 juin 2023

Harpejji solo 4 - Easy harpejji sight-reading

Dans le noir (Gasseling)

(This news is part of the Harpejji solo project)

Finding easy sheet music for practicing sight-reading on the harpejji is not as easy a task as one would expect. Most pedagogic material for beginners on the keyboard rely on techniques quite specific to the keyboard. Fingers resting on C-D-E-F-G in both hands, use of the pedal... all things that don't transfer very well on the harpejji and make these easy pieces much less easy.

Lately I stumbled upon this set of pieces by Franck Gasseling that I find very nice. Most of them transpose relatively easily to the harpejji; the first ones are very easy but there is a steady progression to less easy ones; and most importantly, they sound more like music than like exercises. Note that there are also recordings of most of them, so if you need to hear them first that's also possible. Thank you Franck Gasseling for this nice work (although I'm pretty sure you didn't really target the harpejji when writing these pieces!)

Want more? Along the years, I've also been toying with

06 juin 2023

Harpejji solo 3 - Discussion about the harpejji

(This news is part of the Harpejji solo project)

Yesterday was a Coulisse at Les Chemins de Traverse. I made a quick presentation about the Harpejji solo project and proposed a few considerations about why a harpejji is neither a guitar nor a keyboard and why it matters when writing music for - or improvising on - the harpejji. This yielded interesting discussions about the instruments that will certainly help me in my research during the upcoming months.

16 mai 2023

Harpejji solo 2 - The harpejji and me

Harpejji voicings

(This news is part of the Harpejji solo project)

I've been interested in two-handed tapping for quite some years now, but my first experiments with the Chapman Stick and then different sorts of tapping guitar didn't work well. Not coming from the guitar, I had many difficulties finding an ergonomic body posture and I found the geometry of the fretboard very difficult to master. I was getting more and more frustrated because I did not really progress when I discovered the harpejji, which seemed like the perfect solution to these problems.

I was lucky enough to be able to try one not far from where I live (in 2013 this was an incredible luck) and by the end of 2013 I had my own harpejji. I experimented a little bit with the instrument, even in gigs, but for various personal reasons, it's only in 2019 that I really started to develop my harpejji technique.

As a melodist, I was especially interested in developing accompaniment. In particular the Paseador project allowed me to experiment with diverse comping techniques. Part of these techniques I described in a series of blog posts so that my experience could benefit other players.

Along the way, I found that I needed a way to describe scale and chord shapes and fingerings so I developed a notation inspired by guitar tablatures. As I was spending a lot of time drawing these tablatures, I asked the HE-Arc Ingénierie, the Technical University of my home town, if one of their students could help me develop an editor. Soon the student Nicolas Laoun was developing a great [open-source...

05 mai 2023

Harpejji solo 1 - Where I come from

Fête de l'atelier 2022 #14

(This news is part of the Harpejji solo project)

Before starting to document my research about the Harpejji solo play, I should maybe give some information about my musical background.

I was trained as a classical flutist. Later I also studied jazz flute, and I played in many "crossover" projects mixing classical, jazz, rock and ethno music. Also having a scientific background, I began to develop augmented instruments, which you can hear e.g. in the Dragonfly project. I also began to play "low flutes" (bass and contrabass flutes) more and more. But all this doesn't change this basic fact: my primary musical background is definitely the flute.

Many people taking up the harpejji come from guitar and/or keyboard. I never played the guitar and although I did learn some piano, especially when studying jazz, my keyboard abilities are extremely limited.

Coming to the harpejji with a guitar or piano background certainly helps getting started. Part of the knowledge can be transferred, contributing to get satisfying results faster. But maybe not coming from those backgrounds can provide opportunities to develop techniques specific to the instrument, instead of trying to replicate what one could do on another instrument.

Anyway, that's not for me to judge. My job is to play as well as I can, from where I stand now. Whether I'm taking an easy path or the hard way doesn't change much - I just have to explore it.