The fabulous world premier of my most recent record.
Not only is it a picture disc, not only does it have translucent vinyl,
not only does it have recordings of things of mine from '76 to '94,
not only does it have remakes of my previous record (made by Colin Hinz),
not only does it have lock grooves,
not only does it have parallel grooves,
not only does it have recording in the wind-off grooves,
not only does it have scratching in the wind-off groove area,
not only does it come with a 2 foot by 3 foot 4 color essay/poster
partially explaining my audio activities from '74 to '94,
not only does the poster/essay have a pop-up replica of my cock in chub phase,
not only does the pop-up cock have simulated cum dripping from it,
but it's on sale for $20.00!
It's a "Bogus Piano Concerto" because it's played with synthesizers, a sampler, a sequencer, a midi-patcher, an effects unit, & mixers. The piano-like sounds are simulations & samples - bogus. It's somewhat a "Bogus Concerto" because it's not based on any aspect of the typical concerto form, such as the sonata form, other than in its use of the contrast between the "solo" instrument & the "orchestration". Obviously, even this is bogus because the same instruments are producing both sounds. The word "bogus" is not used deprecatingly. I have no interest in creating a concerto. I'm even "embarrassed" to have the words "piano" & "concerto" in the title. The other elements of the title are obviously just a silly quasi-subversion of the traditionalism of the "Piano Concerto" label.
Its form is fairly simple. The sequencer/sampler & the keyboard are used to midi-control themselves, 2 Kawai K1m synthesizers, & each other. Which controls which when varies. Basically, there are "islands of drama" connected by "bridges of focus". There is not an overall dramatic form in the sense of a sexual build-up, climax, & relaxation. Ideally(?), when it ends, the audience should be left with a feeling that the "concerto" has simply stopped connecting the possible "islands" with possible "bridges" but that the structure continues to exist.
Only three 333 note sequences are used. The 1st 2 are each one minute long & are in the 1st movement. Both were created originally for bass harmonica & harmonica samples. However, other sustainable sounds with moderately rich harmonics, such as that of a tamboura, can also be used. The 3rd sequence, used in the 2nd movement, was created for a K1m sound programmed by myself called "AUTOBEND". It's otherwise intended to primarily drive any of my stereo "multi" sounds. K1m sounds are divided into 2 categories: "single" & "multi". "Multi"s are combinations of from 2 to 8 "single"s.
Typical factory provided synthesizer sounds have little or no delay between when the key depression triggers the attack of the sound envelopes. Furthermore, these envelopes tend to have no substantial change occur if the sound is sustained for a long time & no substantial change as a result of key release - other than an instant stopping of the sound or a gradual fading out.
The sounds that I program tend to deviate from this pattern. Up to a 32 note phrase from the K1m can be triggered by holding down 1 key. Thus, each key becomes a switch for a miniature sequencer. This is further complicated by what the range of each of the 8 "single"s is within the "multi". In other words, depressing middle C may trigger all of the "single"s within the "multi" but pressing the lowest C might only activate one.
In most instances, this equipment is limited to 8 note polyphony (meaning that only 8 notes can be played at once). Therefore, how long a sustain on any given key is allowed to continue is partially determined by whether a simultaneously or subsequently played key is triggering a number of notes that causes an exceding of the 8 note limit - sometimes resulting in an arpeggio or in a superceding of elements of the previous key(s).
Combining the midi-controlling of multiple instruments, each with complex wave forms, can result in even more variables. If one synthesizer is tuned in 10th tones, while another is in 16th tones, either both can be played simultaneously or a rapid switching between the 2 can be accomplished. One synthesizer might play a sequence with substantial pauses between its units while another might play a continuous sound with glissandi.
Given these many variables, the keyboard playing has less to do with "pianistic" virtuosity than it does with a knowledge of which envelopes will be triggered, what their characteristics are when combined, how they change when sustained, & when the polyphony limitations will clip them, etc, etc.. As such, this "Bogus Piano Concerto" is bogus because its most unique characteristics are those most contrary to piano technique. The use of "piano-like" sounds & the word "Concerto" in the title are somewhat intended to arouse expectations of pianistic virtuosity which can then be gone contary to in the actual keyboard technique used.
I have very limited traditional keyboard playing skill. This "concerto" was thusly created for myself. In my playing of it, easily played one note repetitions & trills are "thematic" material. These stark elements are the "bridges of focus" that connect the "islands of drama" of the generally sequencer-activated "orchestrations".
The 1st movement's 1st sequence is simply a held 8 note chord in which each introduction of a new note results in the replacement of an older one. When the sound driven by the sequence is the harmonica sound (or something similar) the result is a subtly shifting sonority. When the sound driven is a sound without indefinitely sustainable characteristics (such as the percussive sound of a piano) the result is abrupt & fast. Which instrument is controlling which other instrument can make drastic differences between successive repetitions of the same sequence.
The 1st movement's 1st sequence is repeated an indefinite number of times during roughly 1/2 to 2/3rds of the projected length of the movement. Then the 2nd, very similar, sequence replaces it. The 2nd sequence has a held 8 note chord thruout with a fast sequence of notes leading to its end. Both sequences are played with pauses between their repetitions. However, the pauses between the repetitions of the 2nd sequence depend on limitations of the sequencer. This sequence is programmed in such a way that when the fast section plays it "overloads" the machine & causes it to break down & play a slightly unpredictable pattern. This necessitates a rebooting of the machine in order for the sequence to be played again.
The 2nd movement's sequence is approximately 6 & 1/2 minutes long when played at its average speed & it's played continuously in a loop. Since it was programmed while triggering an indefinitely sustainable sound, if it triggers sounds with shorter envelopes, once again, the differences will be substantial. Which "island of drama" is the most "dramatic" depends upon which type of wave-form is being triggered. Simply holding one key down for an envelope that needs to be sustained for its full effect may only produce a quick & quiet plunk with another sound. A fast sequence might be more effective in displaying the unique tuning of the "plunking" sound but might clip the richness of the sound with the longer envelope. Both elements are used in the sequence. It was also designed to fully exploit certain stereo possibilities.
This "concerto" can be said to represent what I call "modular d comprovisation" - meaning analytically composed modular units played & related to improvisationally. Its fixed elements are the sequences & their placements in the movements, the centrality of the piano-like sounds, the linking of "dramatic" moments by non-crescendo oriented playing, the variety of midi-controlling, &, especially, the variety of wave-forms used.
Otherwise, what happens is "open". This means that there are no specific notes to be played in the "piano" part & no specific order that the sounds triggered by the sequencer must follow. It means that sometimes the keyboard playing might be triggering sounds in addition to the "piano-like" ones & sometimes not. With the exception of a few loose somewhat predictable "tendencies" not gone into here, variety & surprise are encouraged.
The 1st playing of this "Bogus Piano Concerto" was by myself. A variation on having this be a one-person playing is to divide the controlling possibilities into 2 parts. One being that of the keyboardist who only plays the keys, the sustain/portamento & volume pedals, & the pitch & modulation wheels. The other being that of the person who controls everything else - such as the midi-patching, the sound-choosing, the mixing, & the effects.
For the Music Gallery I've chosen this 2 role division. The keyboard playing role goes to John Henry Nyenhuis. John was chosen precisely because he's everything as a pianist that I'm not. He can play more complex figures with either of his hands (he's "left-handed") than I can with both hands together (in a certain way at least). He's familiar enough with the specific pitches of the typically even-tempered tuning of the piano to play melodies correctly with his eyes closed. He's capable of sustaining a precise rhythmic pattern while intricately deviating from it with great nuance. And, he has a huge repertoire of other people's music & a large variety of genre styles.
John partially supports himself as a lounge pianist & creates piano sound for silent movies - he's even been called upon to play a fire organ. I've heard him referred to as a "human juke-box" because of his extraordinary abilities to fluidly play a variety of popular styles. As such, he's an archetype of exactly the type of pianist that this "bogus concerto" was not created for! Choosing to play with John is not only an expression of my extreme admiration for his skill, but is also intended to create a mutually subverting conflict between our 2 roles. He won't be in control of what sounds his playing will trigger & what sounds the "orchestration" will have, & I won't be in control of how he exploits the potentials of the sounds.
His instructions are basically to play only quotes & styles in the 1st movement. These are limited to being played just long enough to have enough content to be recognizable to someone familiar with what's being referred to - with a maximum time being approximately 15 seconds per quote/style. If I give him a hand signal, he's to pause long enough for me to change a keyboard setting. In the 2nd movement, he's to play no quotes or pop music styles. If he finds himself playing either, he's to immediately stop playing for at least 10 seconds.
He's further instructed to play furiously at the beginning - demonstrating the virtuosity of his technique & to gradually slow down until he's playing very minimally by the end of the 1st movement. This process is then to be reversed. In keeping with the "conflict" between his playing & my playing, the density of what the audience hears may not jive with the density of what they see being played.
c/o Box 382, BalTimOre, Maryland, 21203, us@
- these notes were written July 29th & September 4th, 1995ev