Johannes Kreidler Composer

piano piece #5 (2005)

for piano and 4-channel tape

Duration: 11'50"

wp: 12.1.2006 Freiburg, Musikhochschule, Sebastian Berweck, pno.

[score as pdf]

High-quality piano samples extend the piano sound, with deceptive accuracy, both inward (microtonally) and outwards (beyond the range of the keyboard). Transposed extremely low, the piano becomes a growl; and extremely high, results in noise. The two extremes share common characteristics of noisiness and can be joined in a continuous loop. An audible circle can also be created by projecting sound in space using a quadrophonic speaker setup. By coupling the pitch range of the samples to the position of the speakers in the hall, each position in the room is located in its own pitch range. In reality, the real piano sits on the stage with the pitches A-2 to c5, to the left are the lower pitches, to the right the higher sounds, and behind the audience the joining of the circle in noise. As a chord sounds, its constituent parts exist in their own locations: the chord becomes an installation. The pianist plays mechanically, like MIDI-playback. Ultimately, everything can be returned from the noisy extremes to its normal transposition. All samples, when sounded extremely high or extremely low, become undifferentiated.

As the piece progresses, more emerges from above and below: quotations from Schoenberg and Boulez’s piano music, recordings from the supermarket, football fans, this exact piece, my voice, unrecognisable. Most composers quote Beethoven and Brahms, I look for others to quote. Is a piano sample still a quote? When a pre-produced recording of the current piece is quoted, it may again be transposed up or down, or sound with or against existing transpositions. One can spool through the piece: back to the very beginning (where did this piece begin?) and onwards into the future. The tape noise is itself a musical sound, the pianist’s playing resembles the sound; and hence the spooling of the spooling and so on creates feedback. The cycle continues, but due to inconsistencies and technical shortcomings (decreasing quality of each reproduction) becomes a spiral which extinguishes itself. Such is life.

The basis of the composition was: “The difference between medium and form is in turn the medium.” (Niklas Luhmann, Das Medium der Kunst), and this could also be the principle to guide listening.

Johannes Kreidler, August 2009 || Translation: Mark Knoop