Piece for Piano and Lamp

in Compositions

June 2005. A short improvisation exploring the relationship between gesture, sound and music using a webcam to detect the movement of the pianist’s hands.

The history of the instrument, the drama of performance and the physical interaction with the piano is also explored.

The improvisation begins with fragmentary musical gestures with a dissonant harmonic palette. A second, more meditative section develops the higher pitched material from the opening and tunes it to a more harmonic pitch set. A short ‘historical’ episode follows and a brief return to the instability of the opening concludes the improvisation.

A laptop computer situated at the piano processes the data acquired from the webcam and passes it to the main computer at the front of the stage. This computer then generates sounds using synthesis methods such as granular synthesis (using samples of real sounds), subtractive synthesis and also the layering of piano sounds. The pianist conforms to a predetermined set of harmonic progressions which the computer follows.

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