Fidelito/La Revolución y las Mujeres
Part of QUADRATUREN III ('WIRKLICHKEIT') ('Reality')
studies for computer-controlled player piano in collaboration with Winfried Ritsch: auto-piano player
Chant is a family of works exploring endlessness, quietness and togetherness. A big inspiration for these works are the endlessly floating melodies in Gregorian chant: there is no development, no goal, no change. The music simply comes and goes. Chant is not dramatic and dynamic, but small and held back. It is blurry and vague, and doesn't make clear statements.
Chant for disklavier tries to evoke tranquility and stasis by mimicking the system for pitches of Gregorian chant and by exploring the quiet sound of the piano. Furthermore, the layering of multiple lines creates a messy and polytonal texture and this diminishes the clarity and importance of each individual line. Occasionally you might hear a line standing out from the others but then it moves back into the texture again. This shy stream of lines comes, grows and shrinks organically, and goes. For more information on this family, see Boris's own website: http://www.borisbezemer.nl/music/chant
Escalator (2015) for Yamaha Disklavier and Field Recording
'Escalator' for Yamaha Disklavier and Field Recording is a 11:30-minute visual/aural translation of a ride up and down an escalator in Den Haag Centraal Station. The looped 1.5-minute field recording I processed/filtered/edited in different ways to highlight various components of the audio, and rhythmic, melodic and pitch elements emerge in the Disklavier just as relationships between the two machines - the escalator and Disklavier - come into focus over time. Another connection is the trend of public pianos in train stations of The Netherlands.
'Escalator' involves a fairly simple setup: MIDI out cable from the soundcard into the Disklavier to make the pedals and keys move, two palm-sized JBL Clip speakers placed inside the piano to play the field recording also using the resonance of the piano. For all audience members to enjoy the visual aspect, I arranged for a live camera feed of the front (pedals and keyboard) to be projected on a screen. The premiere of the 11:30 minute piece was on January 17, 2016 in a Gaudeamus Session in Muziekhuis Utrecht. With special thanks to the Conlon Foundation for making the studio time and therefore this piece, possible. For more information, please visit http://www.yvonnefreckmann.com
Riding the Euclidean Planes (2015, honorable mention of the third international Conlon Music Prize 2015 for Disklavier Plus)
An algorithmic composition for Disklavier, electronics and live video.
The name of the piece discribes properties of a globe and is named after its Greek founder, Euclid (300BC). The ever symmetric properties of the musical scale used is reflected in the globe of the video which always stays symmetrical. http://dannydegraan.nl/
Multitudes (2015, winner of the third international Conlon Music Prize 2015 for Disklavier Plus)
An audiovisual installation in two movements that straddles the fields of biology, digitality and sculpture.
Incorporating the monocellular algae Dinoflagella Pyrocystis Fusformis and a self-playing grand piano, physical stimulus from the latter serves to trigger a bioluminescent response from multitudes of microscopic organisms in the first movement. The mathematical basis of this musical composition – a collaboration between the artist and composer Tyler Friedman – is based on the growth curve of the algae’s replication cycle. Beginning with total darkness and silence, music and light patterns exponentially increase in complexity, intensity and frequency, until they reach maximum possible variations. Following this peak, the process ends with the complete extinction of sound and illumination, just as the algae’s capacity for natural light emission has been exhausted by overstimulation. Website
Sound of the Machine (2011)
A composition for Disklavier, laptop-instrument and flute with electronics, performed by Shackle (Anne LaBerge & Robert van Heumen)
Alternative version for Disklavier, laptop-instrument voice performed by Robert van Heumen (laptop-instrument) and Stephanie Pan (voice)
The sound of machines is fascinating. They scream, growl, grind, buzz, hum, sing, roar, whistle, thunder. The Disklavier is a machine to make music with. But it's not only the strings that make sound. This composition exposes the Disklavier's mechanism and produces freshly squeezed music.
Commissioned by the Conlon Foundation and Gaudeamus Muziekweek. Many thanks to the Performing Arts Fund NL and STEIM. More information here.
One of the most interesting aspect of the Disklavier is its communicative prowess. The instrument does not just receive MIDI signals (in this case from a computer), it can also send information. This inspired me to think deeply about making the process self-perpetuating so the Disklavier can play itself. Such a situation differs fundamentally from being sent performance data by a pre-programmed computer. Especially in the area of live electronics, this enables the composer to build an entire musical form and structure using the computer. The feedback is searchable; both in relation to the data required to play the Disklavier and to the sounds produced, including the familiar piano and other (mechanical) sounds. Such an idea, I believe, can be the starting point for enhancing the characteristics of the Disklavier as a self-playable instrument. '-Nory' on the title 'Machi-Nory' came from the Korean word, meaning to play.
YAMAHA / ENIGMA (2011)
For as long as humans have possessed complete writing, they have also sought ways in which to disguise the meaning of their most important communications from all but its intended recipient. Taking the general idea of the encoding and decoding of written text as a starting point, my piece YAMAHA / ENIGMA utilizes several 'classic techniques' from the world of codes and cryptography and sets them in motion over 14 minutes. Using permutations and rotations, symbols from telegraphy and texts from Sei Shounagon, Augustine of Hippo, Walt Whitman and my own meditation on silent reading, YAMAHA / ENIGMA is actually a rather mysterious love letter to the act of reading itself, the amazing, everyday act of 'decoding' written symbol into sound and meaning, which the linguist Steven Roger Fischer has termed one of human society's 'quiet triumphs'.
The most basic form of rhythm, the pulse, is the key component of 'Puls-Fictie', a composition for two Disklavier pianos, written in 2000. Disklavier pianos give composers the opportunity to realise their ideas without concern for the physical limitations of a piano player, because a computer actually plays it. In other words: one doesn't have to think about the feasibility of a work, which is a relief for someone like me with a taste for fast, energetic and virtuoso music. However, I didn't feel the need to make an extremely complex piece. Above all I wanted to create beautiful music, and not a kind of 'etude' for Disklavier. I did use the mechanical tightness of timing, and the precision of control over both timing and dynamic expression the instrument offers.
The middle part of Puls-Fictie evolved from an experiment with aleatoric techniques; I had created an algorithm in which the musical mode, a rhytmical pattern of four bars, the tempo and the form (a poly-modal canonic structure) were constants, and the rest of the decisions were made using dice and flipping a coin. With the results of that process, I started composing, and eventually it became the slow middle part.
The Pillar (2013, 10’, for amplified prepared Disklavier and electronic sounds, winner of the 2013 Conlon Prize for Disklavier Plus)
Composed in 2013, The Pillar is a 10-minute composition for amplified prepared Disklavier and electroacoustic sounds. The work utilizes text from the introduction of Vladimir Solovyov’s The Spiritual Foundations of Life (1885). Initially, I became interested in Solovyov when considering the parallels between Scriabin’s and Solovyov’s conceptions of ‘all-unity’ and ‘wholeness.’
According to Solovyov,
Perfect all-unity, according to its very conception, requires full equilibrium, equality of worth, and equality of rights between one and all, between the whole and the parts, between the common and the individual.He also wrote,
In general, the meaning of human love is the justification and redemption of individuality through the sacrifice of egoism. (Meaning of Love, 1894, ed./trans. Vladimir Wozniuk)These passages influenced the composition’s balance between the conventional piano and prepared piano timbres. My method involved implementing a primary and ancillary gamut (scale). In the primary gamut, certain pitches were fixed in a certain register. The remaining pitches were initially sieved out. They made up the ancillary gamut; four preparation techniques were applied to these pitches. For instance, muting the strings with non-stick putty, weaving small coins between the strings, weaving thin guitar picks through the strings, and weaving paper through the strings. Owing to Solovyov’s strong theological system, I felt it appropriate to name the composition after information gathered from an inflected practice of bibliomancy [= "foretelling the future by choosing a randomly chosen passage of a book, especially the bible", OED]. The Pillar is a reference to ‘the pillar of cloud’ mentioned in Deuteronomy. Finally, I wish to thank pianist Tatiana Shustova for her beautiful rendering of Solovyov’s text. The Pillar is the winner of the 2013 Conlon Prize for Disklavier Plus.
Chromotoy II (2005)
for partially prepared yamaha disklavier and live electronics
In the last year, I have been exploring a new combination of sounds and techniques in which the sonorities of the prepared piano can be heard in a new way.
'Chromotoy I' was an experimental piece for piano harmonics and toy piano. 'Chromotoy III' is a piece for toy piano, Midi-toy piano and acoustic grand piano and live electronics. In 'Chromotoy II', I wanted to be able to produce series of piano harmonics by placing large felt blocks, which I designed and had made in piano factories, behind the piano dampers.
Because of the technical possibilities of the 'electronic-pianola instrument' the Disklavier, it became possible to have the disklavier play melodies and rhythms with these Piano harmonic sonorities which would be extremely difficult, if not impossible in another fashion. I combined these piano tone colors with the usual piano timbre. Also, and at the same time, I used computer software to execute live recording and playback of the disklavier and various audio samples and effects.
There is a margin for improvisation in triggering the timing of the live recording and the playback of the music played by the disklavier. At the end of the piece, the pianist improvises directly on the Disklavier as a normal acoustic grand piano.
This piece was supported by the Dutch composition fund/ het fonds voor de scheppende toonkunst and was supported by STEIM
Tuning Studies (1997-1999)
for Yamaha Disklavier en piano samples
I had always been fascinated by the sounds of piano tuning and decided to write a piece based on the ritualistic character that it can create before a concert, evocative of a preludium. A good piano tuner is a musicmaker in his own right. He restores anew the raw materials used by the composer and interpreter according to the tuning of the day, laying the foundation for the realisation of their music.
Every tuner has his own working rhythms combining the shifting of the hammer to a new tuning pin, playing the key to be tuned, adjusting the hammer to move the string into 'the right spot'. A tuner is continually listening to the speed of beats between intervals to determine the accuracy of his work and has his own special checks and controls to engineer a harmonic balance over the keyboard.
These rhythms and the melodic and harmonic materials drawn from the method of the equal temperment tuning were the basis for the musical materials in the piece. The transformation of the materials illustrate a fantasy, 'the piano tuning that was transformed into music' , a wink to Hans Christian Andersen's 'Ugly Duckling' tale.
I used the Yamaha Disklavier for this composition because I wanted to have the freedom to use the piano without the technical limitations of a pianist and yet employ an acoustic instrument. Because a 'human interpretation' is never entirely possible using a computer, the slightly mechanical sound produced on the Disklavier gave the quality I was looking for.
Cavity (the player piano version 2011)
Gert-Jan Prins, originally a percussionist, but nowadays exploring and building radio- and transmitter electronics. His idea is to implement the complex functions of these electronics into the audio domain, in order to create special sound- and noise formations, which are the basic material for his compositions. His electronic machines can be used as an autonomous instrument, but also in combination with other instruments.
Three years ago he started a series of music- and audiovisual works under the name: Cavity. A cavity is also a technical term for resonator. In this version the piano, the mindset of the player/improviser and the live electronics could be regarded as connections of resonators. The basic material for the piece is a MIDI file. In the first part the score was drawn by hand as an intuitive process. Territories and lines of several densities of material were created in the MIDI score. These were often so dense that they could not be played by the instrument . The idea was that the piece could be able to escape the MIDI machine language and take off from there. The second part, the rocking part, was played by himself on the Disklavier. Both parts were led through his electronic systems, edited, partially recomposed, and registrated again in several layers.
White as Winter's Threads
The silk-producing animal - the silkworm - is a highly bred species with an utilitarian purpose. It no longer appears in the wild and is only raised within textile factories. The animal cannot even crawl without human help. Just before hatching, the silkworm is thrown into boiling water, where its cocoon is recovered for the production of silk. The worm never gets to live its natural life cycle; its only function is to weave and produce beautiful, snow-white threads. It is therefore a kind of mechanized animal. The Disklavier is a (grand) piano with a normal mechanism but played by a digital control system. I use the instrument as a kind of 'loom'. The acoustic shapes resemble threads, knots, sewing, and weaving. I've moved away from the natural sound of the piano using microtonality, concrete sounds acquired from inside the piano's mechanism, and through dragging and rubbing various kinds of threads and yarns. I've also used industrial sewing machine sounds as source material. Just as the textile industry has domesticated the silkworm, it has mechanized the human textile worker - with often tragic results. In Bangladesh alone, at least 1129 workers hade died in textile factory collapses in 2013, with large numbers of child workers among the dead. This work was commissioned by Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Fondation Royaumont, Time of Music Festival, and the Ulysses Network. It has been executed with the support of the Madetoja Foundation. The electronics were realized by Anders Pohjola.
Minutenwalsje and Deemol
'Minutenwals' and 'Deemol' are part of a small series of one-minute works for Disklavier.
Each piece is, in fact, a small piece of computer software, generating MIDI data for the Disklavier to play, and producing a new version of the composition for every performance.
The main structure is is the same, but the details are variable. The 'Minutenwals' remains a waltz, but all of the notes are different every time it is played. The same concept applies to 'Deemol' , in which the 'left hand part' is a series of baroque cliché sequences, and the 'right hand part', a slow and free improvisation.
three versions of Minutenwalsje:
three versions of Deemol:
Axon (2011, winner of the 2011 Conlon Prize for Disklavier Plus)
Axon is pulse and transmission. Synchrony and diachrony. Dissidence and paradox. No more sonification and no more spatialization. Game and irony. The labyrinth machine automatically produces movement that defies the will of the maker. No genealogy in the Fibonacci’s automata rabbits. No interpreter at the Disklavier: the logos without the pathos (the pathology doesn’t affect only doctors).
the never ending cycle (2011)
The 'Never-ending-cycle' is a M.C. Escher inspired composition. Two 'Crackle Scorpio's' - original electric sound sculptures - react to the touch of the performer. Their eerie sound is electronically processed and further played as motivic note material by the 'Disklavier'. Inside the piano a tablet computer captures these motives. The performer transposes these into ascending and descending 'Shepard' like tones on a virtual (touchscreen) keyboard. The composition falls into 8-9 sections. Four pre-composed sections of higher contrapuntal complexity, lasting from forty five to ninety seconds, are structurally interwoven with the freer, interactive parts. What results is a piece full of aural illusions that grow organically through the intervention of the performer, who at various points is also instructed to manipulated the piano strings with 'Scorpio' antennae' directly. More information here.
Bolus de Beer (2012-2014) (10')
Bolus de Beer (Sonata for Disklavier) is a three-movement sonata that contains elements from different styles and periods. For example classical, romanticism, ragtime, serialism and cartoon music. Parts of the piece were initially written for chamber ensemble. In 2014 it was rewritten and arranged for Disklavier. The premiere took place during Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2014.
Sonata for 10 pedals (2014, 13', in collaboration with Robert van Heumen)
for harp, Disklavier and live electronics
music and concept by Lucas Wiegerink, electronic design by Robert van Heumen
performers: Anneleen Schuitemaker (Utrecht), Gunnhildur Einarsdóttir (Darmstadt)
‘Sonata for 10 pedals’ is about machine versus man, about pedals versus strings. The three pedals of the Disklavier and the seven pedals of the harp are central: they are played by the harpist, they are amplified by contact microphones and they serve to control the electronics. The sound of the strings and the pedals is sampled and processed in real-time and pre-recorded samples are triggered. The first part is a game of pedals and in the other two parts seven MIDI files from the Disklavier and related series of the harp are introduced one by one. These three parts that emphasize the mechanical are separated by two interludes in which the focus is on the human.
More information: http://west28.nl/Sonata/.
Matrix was written for the Ulysses Network's project "Disklavier Plus" in 2013 and was performed at important festivals such as the Gaudeamus Music Week and the International Summer Courses in Darmstadt. The project saw a series of works produced for Yamaha's "Disklavier" (a form of automated grand piano) and electronics. In the case of Matrix, the electronic component is a piano sampler, which supplements the tuning of the piano by adding quarter-tones between the semitones of the Disklavier keyboard. In contrast to Zuraj's normal compositional method, Matrix does not have a predetermined form, but is instead a live performance in which compositional parameters such as tempo, intervals, textural density and volume are manipulated by means of MIDI controls.