A Piano Listening To Itself – Brno Variation

Villa Tugendhat, Brno, Czech Republic, June-August 2013

Commissioned by Jozef Czeres and Viktor Pantůček for the Exposition of New Music, Brno

Two pianos are connected to six long piano wires each, that are suspended across the back yard and are connected to the roof of the Villa Tugendhat. At the high end of the wires, audio recordings are transmitted into the long piano strings using vibrating coils attached to the wires, which cause the piano strings to vibrate in sympathy with the audio signals. The vibrations in the long piano strings are amplified by contact to the piano soundboard.

For this version commissioned especially for the Villa Tugendhat, compositions by Leos Janacek and Henry Cowell are used as source material for new piano compositions. Note sequences and harmonic sequences are extracted from selected compositions by Janacek and Cowell, and these extractions are used as compositional elements in the composition of new piano pieces using midi composing software. These new compositions are recorded using a software piano, and the finished recordings are transmitted into the piano wires of the installation and are heard coming out of the pianos. One piano plays Janacek-derived pieces and the other plays Cowell-derived pieces.

The following compositions were used as source material: Janacek: Glagolithic Mass, Mladi, The Makropoulos Case, Sinfonietta, On An Overgrown Path; Cowell: Advertisement, Six Ings, What’s This.

(Leos Janacek was a long-time resident of Brno; Henry Cowell visited Brno twice to give concerts and lectures; Janacek attended those in 1926. http://digilib.phil.muni.cz/handle/11222.digilib/115234)

Gordon Monahan 2013