Author Topic: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.  (Read 2555 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« on: December 20, 2020, 09:44:10 AM »
Does anyone know of anything they think is special?
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2020, 12:28:41 PM »


What is a set of variations? I have no idea, presumably there’s something constant that’s being varied here but it’s not audible to me consciously, at a level I can articulate. But Shapey’s 21 variations for modern piano do sound amazingly coherent, and interesting, tight music over half an hour. And maybe what is most interesting is that somehow he has managed to produce something in what is, evidently, in an uncompromisingly modernist style and yet is full of consolation, grandeur - romantic in fact. All tones have pitches, all the playing is conventional, the pianist isn’t ask to use his voice or body percussion, so it’s safe.

It’s not really at the cutting edge of today’s avant garde at all, which is what this thread is hopefully going to explore. Very nice though and a bit of inspiration to dig a bit deeper into the repertoire for this “challenging” instrument.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2020, 01:05:16 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline T. D.

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2020, 06:44:41 AM »
This reminds me...
Not new, definitely experimental and improv/free rather than classical, but after Cor Fuhler passed away someone recommended his Stengam for solo (heavily) prepared piano. Title is Magnets spelled backward, which gives an indication. I enjoyed the samples I heard (on US vendor Squidco site), but then forgot. Will have to follow up. This seems to have been released only as a physical CD (Potlatch label in France) and I couldn't find any downloads.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2020, 09:16:08 AM »


Stockhausen’s Mantra is just a set of variations on a melody (the mantra.) It is for two pianos, the piano tones are passed through a ring modulator which serves to bring out some of their overtones, creating a more varied timbre. There is also some occasional use of little cymbals, and woodblocks which mark the main structural junction - all done by the piano players. And occasionally the musicians have to make a sound with their vocal chords.  I love it, I think it is a masterpiece. But it’s not really avant garde any more - it’s half a century old! Roll over Stockhoven.



However IMO Stockhausen is one of the chief influences on the music of today, and I think a good example of his influence here is in Enno Poppe’s Rad, also for two piano like keyboards, which produce a piano like sound, this time dissonances are produce by microtones rather than a modulator. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Rad is as systematically composed as Mantra, but I’m not sure.




Anyone know any other avant garde music for two pianos?
« Last Edit: December 21, 2020, 11:52:48 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Leo K.

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2020, 09:46:32 AM »
This is not a recording but here is a link to the score for my piano sonata (no.2), titled:

"There are examples from John Kirkpatrick's 1975 edition of Charles Ives's Three-Page Sonata for Piano (1949) that are either printed individually or printed alongside examples of Henry Cowell's 1949 and/or Mary Joyce's 1970 editions of Charles Ives's Three-Page Sonata for Piano in order to be compared in regards to "score realization" (Shelton, 1985, p. iii), "formal structures" (Shelton, 1985, p. iv), "serial procedures" (Shelton, 1985, p. v), "melodic analysis" (Shelton, 1985, p. vi), "harmonic analysis" (Shelton, 1985, p. vii) and "aesthetic appreciation" (Shelton, 1985, p. vii) on pages 13, 19-24, 26-31, 35-62, 64-70, 74-75, 77, 78, 81, 85-87, 88, 90, 95, 100-116, 118-120, 124-141, 143-149, 152-153, 156-159 and 167. There are examples from Henry Cowell's 1949 edition of Charles Ives's Three-Page Sonata for Piano (1949) that are either printed individually or printed alongside examples of John Kirkpatrick's 1975 and/or Mary Joyce's 1970 editions of Charles Ives's Three-Page Sonata for Piano in order to be compared in regards to "score realization" (Shelton, 1985, p. iii), "formal structures" (Shelton, 1985, p. iv), "serial procedures" (Shelton, 1985, p. v), "melodic analysis" (Shelton, 1985, p. vi), "harmonic analysis" (Shelton, 1985, p. vii) and "aesthetic appreciation" (Shelton, 1985, p. vii) on pages 13, 19-24, 26-31, 35-45, 47-50, 52-62, 64-65, 67-70, 76, 85-87, 110-111, 113, 118, 127-131, 134-135, 140, 141, 143, 144, 146-147, 149, 152-153, 165 and 167. There are examples from Mary Joyce's 1970 edition of Charles Ives's Three-Page Sonata for Piano (1949) that are printed alongside examples of John Kirkpatrick's 1975 and/or Henry Cowell's 1949 editions of Charles Ives's Three-Page Sonata for Piano in order to be compared in regards to "score realization" (Shelton, 1985, p. iii), "formal structures" (Shelton, 1985, p. iv), "serial procedures" (Shelton, 1985, p. v), "melodic analysis" (Shelton, 1985, p. vi), "harmonic analysis" (Shelton, 1985, p. vii) and "aesthetic appreciation" (Shelton, 1985, p. vii) on pages 20, 26-28, 35, 37-40, 46-47, 51 and 53."

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ctxz3i235rymzln/piano_sonata_02_revised.pdf?dl=0



Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2020, 11:56:06 AM »
And there’s another piece which seems to me obviously influenced by Mantra - Manoury’s Le Temps mode d’emploi for two pianos and real time electronics. Someone told me that Manoury said that he decided to become a composer after hearing Mantra - that’s what made me think of it,



Just listening to it now after listening to Mantra, it’s almost too similar! Is there a mantra, a melody from which all the rest of the composition was derived? Not sure. Stockhausen could be either flattered or angry! But he’ll certainly have a feeling of déjà vu.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2020, 12:08:50 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2020, 12:32:07 PM »
This reminds me...
Not new, definitely experimental and improv/free rather than classical, but after Cor Fuhler passed away someone recommended his Stengam for solo (heavily) prepared piano. Title is Magnets spelled backward, which gives an indication. I enjoyed the samples I heard (on US vendor Squidco site), but then forgot. Will have to follow up. This seems to have been released only as a physical CD (Potlatch label in France) and I couldn't find any downloads.

I have managed to get hold of it, let me know if you want the files.

It raises interesting questions because prima facie it sounds nothing like a piano, it is just not pianistic in any way shape or form. It sounds much less like a piano than this, for example

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/sVHl-pqaIYM" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/sVHl-pqaIYM</a>
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Offline not edward

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2020, 01:06:42 PM »
And there’s another piece which seems to me obviously influenced by Mantra - Manoury’s Le Temps mode d’emploi for two pianos and real time electronics. Someone told me that Manoury said that he decided to become a composer after hearing Mantra - that’s what made me think of it,



Just listening to it now after listening to Mantra, it’s almost too similar! Is there a mantra, a melody from which all the rest of the composition was derived? Not sure. Stockhausen could be either flattered or angry! But he’ll certainly have a feeling of déjà vu.
I think it might be even more similar to Boulez's sur Incises, though I'm aware comparing Manoury to Boulez is the one of the most predictable critical moves out there.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2020, 09:20:16 AM »
Well I must admit that I’m finding it a challenge to find music which is for modern piano in its vanilla state, unmodified by electronics or prepared à la Cage, maybe in the world post spectralism the pure tones of the modern piano get in the way of imaginative composing. But it’s not as if the overtones aren’t there, and there’s a technique called sforzato - holding a note  down silently while playing another note hard to make the wires released by the first note resonate.

And then, like a miracle I remembered that Stockhausen wrote for the instrument, a sequence of some 20 or more Klavierstücke, some of the later ones exploring resonances and overtones, and today I’ve been enjoying the most romantic, cantabile, emotional  one I know, Sabine Liebner’s Klavierstuck X - almost 40 minutes in her hands.



And what a fabulous writer for modern piano Stockhausen was. Enormous vistas! Rich colours! This piece is, IMO, as much a piano masterpiece as anything by Liszt or Beethoven.

Liebner’s is rather unusual, I think, because it’s so long, I’ll listen to some other performances (and there are many of them) later. One thing I’d say about the Liebner is that it’s refined, the loud moments are not violent, they’re too subtle for violence. And that it’s coherent - nothing seems gratuitous and it’s certainly not too long.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2020, 11:02:47 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline steve ridgway

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2020, 05:44:49 AM »
Is today’s Avant Garde such in the sense that it would shock the Stockhausen et al of fifty years ago with its radical innovations, or has the term just become a genre label for the same sort of music?

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2020, 06:17:36 AM »
Is today’s Avant Garde such in the sense that it would shock the Stockhausen et al of fifty years ago with its radical innovations, or has the term just become a genre label for the same sort of music?

Well I think if you look at instruments other than piano then there’s lots of boundary pushing exploration and experimentation happening now,  think of, just off the top of my head,  Beat Furrer or Richard Barrett or Liza Lim or Bernhard Lang. The world is not short of bold and creative composers. It’s just that, as far as I can see, inspired new music for vanilla modern piano is quite hard to come by - as is inspired new songs for voice and piano. It’s as if the piano is the killer.

But you meantion Stockhausen, and that gives me a problem because I think he was a genius major proportions, and what Furrer etc are doing may well only be possible because of the new ground he broke.

It’s remarkable to me how so many fantastic modern composers have been completely defeated by piano. Rihm IMO is an example.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2020, 06:24:37 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline steve ridgway

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2020, 06:34:26 AM »
It’s just that, as far as I can see, inspired new music for vanilla modern piano is quite hard to come by - as is inspired new songs for voice and piano. It’s as if the piano is the killer.

I’d think it’s very hard to come up with new ideas for vanilla modern piano with its fixed notes. As compared say with all the sounds Ligeti could get out of an organ. I wonder if anyone tried multiple pianos tuned slightly differently so they’d give microtones or beat interference?

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2020, 06:40:18 AM »
I’d think it’s very hard to come up with new ideas for vanilla modern piano with its fixed notes. As compared say with all the sounds Ligeti could get out of an organ. I wonder if anyone tried multiple pianos tuned slightly differently so they’d give microtones or beat interference?

I don’t know if the pianos in Mathias Spahlinger’s Faben Der Frühe are tuned differently - there are seven pianos and it’s rather good. Julius Eastman is another one to think about - Crazy Nigger is doable on four pianos, but I don’t know about the tuning.

But the pure tones of a modern piano needn’t be a limitation because there’s sfortato. Once again Stockhausen leads the way in Naturliche Dauern and elsewhere.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2020, 06:41:58 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2020, 07:11:13 AM »
By the way, I want to add something. There’s no shortage of really large ambitious piano pieces by modern composers, especially British ones. Think Finnissy’s History of Photography, Dillon’s Book of Elements, Simon Holt’s Book of Colours. I’m sure that one day soon I’ll listen to them properly, see whether I can make more out of them. Finnissy has done a lot for piano which I like very much (but not so far History of Photography in Sound!)

Radulescu is another I should revisit, and Lachenmann.
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Offline steve ridgway

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2020, 07:21:48 AM »
Oh OK, I’m glad to hear people are still being creative.

Offline Leo K.

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2020, 09:04:54 AM »
I've been thinking about Morton Feldman, his "For Bunita Marcus" for piano - I haven't hear the whole work but seems beautiful and epic.

« Last Edit: December 24, 2020, 12:53:45 PM by Leo K. »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2020, 08:24:34 AM »
I've been thinking about Morton Feldman, his "For Bunita Marcus" for piano - I haven't hear the whole work but seems beautiful and epic.

What is it? I mean, is it a set of variations on a theme? It's interesting because its form is so elusive, and yet so graspable.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2020, 12:11:14 PM »
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/h1vPotNKDTM&amp;ab_channel=ImriTalgam" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/h1vPotNKDTM&amp;ab_channel=ImriTalgam</a>

Enno Poppe Theme with 840 Variations

Another elusive possible set of variations. I think the theme is just two notes. Is this a step back to the sort of music that Boulez wrote in Notations 1 -- music where the form is indiscernible to the ear even though there is one discernible from analysing the score? One obvious step forward in the Poppe is that there's a bit of relief. But basically Poppe has taken an ultra conservative structure -- theme and variations -- and dragged it kicking and screaming into modernity.

There are lots of them on youtube, the one above seemed to be the most nuanced. Imri Talgam has made a commercial recording of it and he has lots of stuff on youtube -- a pianist to watch maybe.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2020, 12:15:09 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2020, 02:41:43 PM »
Cynthia Zaven put an untuned piano on the back of a truck in New Delhi. She then improvised a piano concerto with the noise of the traffic.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/8r3FPCrT6uQ&amp;ab_channel=anaisJinn" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/8r3FPCrT6uQ&amp;ab_channel=anaisJinn</a>
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Avant garde music for that piece of furniture called a piano.
« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2021, 05:18:37 AM »
Simon Steen Anderson's Rendered is for six hands. The video on this production turns it into a circus act.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/ztcNP77ADL4&amp;ab_channel=nadarensemble" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/ztcNP77ADL4&amp;ab_channel=nadarensemble</a>
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