Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Die Klavierübung

Our concert series continues Wednesday January 20th at noon with:

Steven Takasugi's

- Die Klavierübung -

notes about the program:

Steven Takasugi's large scale computer playback work Die Klavierübung is, at its core, a grand meditation on the recorded piano. It is a piece of music created from thousands of recorded samples. From these samples a virtual music is created wherein the basic tension of the piece is derived from the music's varying awareness of its own virtual/illusory state. From another perspective the piece presents the listener with a dizzying array of textures from the brutish to the highly refined. These textures are composed of snapshots along a continuum of possible pianos - from the almost sacred, privileged status of the Steinway concert grand to the humorous and sometimes profane honkey-tonk upright.

About Die Klavierübung Takasugi writes:

Die Klavierübung might be subtitled A Journey Through Falsehoods. There is no piano after all, there is no pianist, there is no practicing.

Perhaps it is about the recorded piano samples, digitalized manifestations, that still believe they are a “real piano,” disembodied as they are, attempting to create for themselves some fiction in which they can believe they are still live, even beautiful.

They gather themselves as if the pianist were still present and imagine he is sitting at the keyboard—“on the bench”—or leaning precariously forward, head under the top-lid, plucking and striking the strings in a variety of manners, bringing them to life. Nonetheless, he always cannot help but notice that the ear, unlike the eyes, perceives not a resonant chamber with a fixed and solid soundboard, but rather an endless abyss of eternal resonance and echoes. For the ear, then, the danger is to fall inside the piano—into a chasm of its own imagination.

The creation of any fiction, as a hallucination, is inevitably subject to other unintended, unforeseen forces. The piano samples find themselves in contexts they never wished to be: as references, they turn up as a player piano accompanying a silent movie, a concert grand in a neoclassical concerto, even peering at themselves as midi-piano samples, falsehoods gazing at their still falser reflections.

They flee from this piano-nightmare, from coerced roles of alienation, but from one falsehood to another, to find their own sonic bodies distorted beyond recognition. They seem strange: internally detuned, though notes are coherent, intact, each key no longer the tre corde in tune with themselves, rather many strings detuned within a quarter-tone interval: a note has become more a microtonal wobble. “What’s wrong with me?” This line of questioning has its consequences.

By traversing through, not around, the falsehoods of their nature, their medium, their culture, these samples hoped to reclaim the “real” and “true”for themselves, though the arena for this was far more remote and the source of its energies far more extreme than what they ever imagined them to be.

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