ten monophonic miniatures for solo pianist (2003)

excerpt from eight:

ten monophonic miniatures for solo pianist (2002-3) continues my long-standing interest in incorporating the physicality of performance as an independent, parametrical compositional stratum. As is true of many of my overtly ‘decoupled’ works of the last five years, the piano miniatures foreground an almost choreographic movement and energy in the hopes that performative methods and techniques might be afforded a status equivalent to more conventional musical parameters such as pitch, rhythm, or timbre.

To this end, a variety of unique attack types are employed, incorporating various knuckles, fingernails, and unconventional playing techniques (for example, aggressively vertical motion towards the keys; or attacks with the backs of the fingers, with palms upturned; or a variety of muting techniques which create unpredictable amounts of hammer/string contact). These attack types are more and less audible, depending on context. The instability of their aural significance is entirely intentional – this permits an interplay between the physical and the aural, with various choreographic activities influencing the resulting sonic surface to greater and lesser degrees. Because of the extensive amplification, the method and sonic character of the attack can be decoupled from the sounds emanating from the strings and soundboard, so that, for example, a noisy, sharp attack might only create a small, delicate sound from the strings.

The work owes a great debt to the excellent British pianist, Ian Pace. It was Ian’s research into the importance of key noise as a pivotal performative parameter throughout the piano repertoire and his curiosity about deploying the principles of decoupling to the keyboard which led to this piece. His support in this project has been invaluable. In this vein, these miniatures are dedicated to Ian with utmost respect, admiration, and thanks.