DiWhite Experiment

Artistic & reflexive approach

Being a vibraphonist passionate about new technology, I started experimenting with amplification and the use of effects on my instrument ten years ago. I met Nicolas Van Der Plas (Vanderplas Tal), who designed a vibraphone prototype for me which is equipped with a system of 42 pick-up microphones (piezo) glued under each blade. This system allows both to keep the analog signal of the sound generated́ by the instrument as well as to convert it into digital (MIDI). The goal is to have an amplifiable acoustic instrument compatible with analog effects pedals, and to be able to add digital sounds simultaneously.

Only few vibraphonists use this kind of system, where the initially acoustic instrument becomes electric and amplifiable, a technique opening a new world of playing modes. A good example is the transcription of the muffled notes by the stick. The notes are almost inaudible acoustically. When amplified, they become much more sonorous and percussive. This system of amplification by pick-ups coupled with effects pedals allowed me to find my own unique sound identity.

DiWhite Experiment is my laboratory, developing sound and composition. Being is surrounded by an astonishing team of musicians with a background of Jazz culture and contemporary music, allowing them to surf skilfully on the mixture of the codes. They form a group with an atypical instrumentarium: Vibraphone and English horn with effects, mixed with a power trio (Guitar, Bass, Drums) creating unique sound textures and a singular universe.

What intrigues me most about the instrumentation of my project is the invention of new sound textures to create a singular sound experience for the listener. The DiWhite Experiment's challenge is to create a resolutely contemporary jazz, limitless, from obvious pop to wild noise, mixing powerful organic grooves, cosmic solos, neat melodies and delicate harmonies in order to create a bold sound.

The style that best describes this project would be "European Explosive Jazz". It represents a melting pot of contemporary music crossed with the energy of rock and the melodies and harmonies of jazz. There are various influences such as Steve Reich, Brian Blade, Pink Floyd, Christian Scott, Frank Zappa etc…

The repertoire is inspired by the rhythmic equivalences of contemporary music, the sounds of contemporary music and the grooves of modern jazz. The sound universe is aimed at a wide audience, with a wide listening culture.

As a composer, my source of inspiration are physical and psychic phenomena. I am especially interested in the notion of time. The types of phrasing, the modes of play and the use of rhythmic equivalences allow me to create temporal ruptures. In this way, the DiWhite Experiment explores the musical representation of emotions through juxtaposing sound energies.

For example, in the piece "Immersion", the starting point is my experience as an acrobatic manual drone pilot. I wanted to transpose the sensations felt during an immersive flight into music, passing through several states of mind: contemplation, the shot of adrenaline, phases of tension and hyper-concentration, finding its resolution in appeasement and ending in extreme chaos, madness and destruction. "Immersion" also reveals physical principles related to gravity and inertia.

As I mentioned earlier my instrument is also equipped with a MIDI system that opens up new and unexplored technical possibilities. For the continuation of the DiWhite Experiment project, I wish to develop new forms of performance and live events integrating video mapping by means of the vibraphone keyboard, which becomes a MIDI interface: each vibraphone bar will be assigned to a visual event, which can be triggered by touching the bar and then delivering a video projection in real time on stage. This will allow me to transform the DiWhite Experiment project into a unique and immersive live audio-visual experience.

Théo Diblanc