17.01, 13:00-14:00 @ Sonic Lab
Seminar / Lecture:
Interactive systems for the embodied navigation of complex piano notation
I will present a performer-specific paradigm of embodied interaction with complex piano notation. This paradigm, which I term embodied navigation, extends and even confronts the traditional paradigm of textual interpretation. It incorporates ideas from the performative turn in composition and musicology, from embodied cognition and from Human-Computer Interaction.
At a second stage, the proposed paradigm serves as the basis for the development of methodologies and customized tools for a range of applications, including: performance analysis, embodied interactive learning, composition and improvisation. The tools in question include gesture capture, gesture analysis, gesture following and gesture interaction tools developed at Ircam (MuBu for MAX, motionfollower, augmented violin project), the system of capacitative sensing Touchkeys, as well as interactive notation platforms (INScore), combined in the customized system called GesTCom (Gesture Cutting through Textual Complexity).
18.01, 13:00-14:00 @ Sonic Lab
Complexity and embodiment
James Erber, Elided Dilapidations (after C.P.E. Bach), for solo piano (European premiere)
Luigi Nono, ..sofferte onde serene.., for piano and tape
Wieland Hoban, when the panting STARTS, for solo piano (Irish Premiere)
I will explore the relation between complexity and embodiment in contemporary piano music along three axes: intrinsic textual complexity in the form of a New Complexity composition by James Erber; complexity as interaction with the electronic medium, in the case of Luigi Nono’s monumental work for piano and tape; and finally complexity as generative of physical theatre, in the case of Wieland Hoban’s when the panting STARTS.
Pavlos Antoniadis is a Berlin-based pianist for contemporary and experimental music and a researcher at IRCAM and LabEx GREAM, Université de Strasbourg, where he also teaches computer music and contemporary performance. He has performed in Europe, the Americas and Asia with the new music ensembles Work in Progress-Berlin, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, Phorminx, ERGON and as a soloist. He has recorded for Mode (2015 Deutscheschallplattenkritikspreis) and Wergo records. He has worked with composers such as Mark Andre, Helmut Lachenmann, Brian Ferneyhough, Wolfgang Rihm, Pascal Dusapin, Tristan Murail and has premiered solo piano works by James Erber, Nicolas Tzortzis, Luis Antunes Pena, Dominik Karski and others. He has recently started improvising on the occasion of his collaboration with the composer and improviser Panos Ghikas. Pavlos has published on embodied cognition, gesture capture and contemporary piano performance and has been invited for lecture-performances (HfM Dresden, INMM Darmstadt, IRCAM Paris, Orcim Gent, Goldsmiths London, Trinity Dublin, Aristoteleio Thessaloniki, Cité de la Musique et de la Danse Strasbourg, Hong Kong University, Yamanashi Gakuin University Kofu, Wocmat Taiwan, LEAD Dijon). He was a Musical Research Residency fellow at IRCAM in 2014, where he developed with F. Bevilacqua and D. Fober GesTCom, an interface for the gestural control of complex notation. Pavlos holds degrees in piano performance (MA, UC San Diego) and musicology (Athens National University). He has studied on LabEx GREAM, Fulbright, UC San Diego, Nakas conservatory, IEMA Frankfurt and Impuls Academy Gratz scholarships.
James Erber, Elided Dilapidations (after C.P.E. Bach) (2014-15)
Two of the leitmotifs running through my work are the effect of time on memory and perception, and the creation (however illusory) of a fragile continuity from discontinuity. My large-scale ‘Traces’ Cycle for solo flute (1991-2006) is perhaps the best illustration of the former tendency, while the latter is typified by Music for 25 Solo Strings (Epitomaria-Glosaria-Commentaria) and åNeM (1996) for solo piano.
Like Music for 25 Solo Strings and åNeM (based respectively on a motet by William Byrd and an organ work by the 17th Century Neapolitan composer Giovanni Maria Trabaci), this piece makes use of pre-existing musical material. In this case, seven fragmentary and radically differentiated versions of the Andante from C.P.E. Bach’s 4th Württemberg sonata are segmented and interleaved. Their juxtaposition creates the impression of an object viewed from different angles, different distances and different perspectives, prompting a constant revaluation of an original, which remains tantalisingly out of earshot.
I also like to think that the piece is not simply an acknowledgement of my long-standing interest in C.P.E Bach, but can be seen as a symbol of the welcome critical re-interpretation of his music over the past 50 years, as well as recognising his well-documented interest in philosophy, aesthetics and music theory.
The piece is dedicated to Pavlos Antoniadis.
British composer James Erber was born in 1951 in London of an Austrian father and an English mother. He studied Music at the Universities of Sussex (BA, 1973) and Nottingham (MA, 1975). While a student at the University of Sussex, he took flute lessons with Gareth Morris and conducted performances of his own realisation of Giulio Caccini’s opera L’Euridice (1600). In 1976, he began work both as Music Editor for Peters Edition Ltd., London and as freelance editor, writer and translator. Still largely self-taught as a composer, it was at this period he produced his first acknowledged works, beginning with Seguente for oboe and piano (1976, revised 1980). The guidance and encouragement he received from Brian Ferneyhough prompted him to a serious study of composition, firstly with Jonathan Harvey at the University of Sussex (MPhil in Composition, 1983), then from 1981 to 1982 with Ferneyhough himself at the Musikhochschule, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, for which he received financial support from The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the RVW Trust and the Rivendell Trust. Since returning to England, he has combined composition with teaching and lecturing, including three years in the Music Department at Goldsmith’s College, University of London from 1991 to 1994. He has written articles and lectured widely on his own work. He was invited as guest lecturer to the Darmstadt Ferienkurse in 1988 and 1990, having won a Stipendienpreis there in 1986. In 1994 and 1996 he was shortlisted for the Hinrichsen Foundation bursary and in 1994 received a Holst Foundation Award, enabling him to write Abiya for solo piano. In January 2015 he was composer-in-residence at the soundON festival of Modern Music, San Diego CA. James Erber’s work reflects a wide range of interests, including Renaissance and Baroque music, the music of South-East Asia, Jazz, blues, Mediaeval and Renaissance philosophy, Kabbalah, green politics, recent scientific developments, film noir, Jacobean tragedy, the Gothic novel and historical slang. His music is technically demanding for the player, being multi-layered and complex (especially from the point of view of rhythm and form). Its complexity is, however, combined with harmonic clarity and lyricism as well as a tenuous sense of optimism and a concern with intellectual and spiritual continuity diametrically opposed to much of present-day musical culture. It has been performed and broadcast widely throughout Europe, in Australia, New Zealand and the USA by soloists such as Mario Caroli, Matteo Cesari, Carin Levine, Nancy Ruffer, Christopher Redgate, Carl Rosman, Darragh Morgan, Frank Cox, Ian Pace and Jonathan Powell, as well as by ensembles including Lontano, Exposé, 175 East, the Arditti Quartet, NOISE and ELISION. Matteo Cesari’s critically-acclaimed recording of The ‘Traces’ Cycle and three other shorter works for solo flute is available on Convivium Records. Other works will be found on NMC, Metier and Centaur Records (USA).
Wieland Hoban, when the panting STARTS for solo piano (2002-4)
During the last few years, I have reached the conclusion that for me, a solo performance is implicitly an act of theatre. While a greater number of performers on stage can more readily allow the music to be the sole focus of attention (though their interaction can also be seen as a form of theatre), the situation of a soloist on stage strikes me as that of a protagonist involved in a monologue. This monologue can conform to the expectations of the context by adopting the meta-personal style of the genre, where the artificiality of the circumstances is passed over. Or it can thematicise this. The latter option has been explored in depth by such composers as Schnebel, Kagel, Holliger or Globokar; my interest, however, is in a purely musical formulation of this ideal. How can the work develop and convey a consciousness of its own artificiality and erode this to acquire an autonomous expression? How can the tension between acceptance and rejection of expressive norms become productive in an aesthetic and semantic sense? These questions are at the heart of when the panting STARTS, and their urgency for me was heightened through the context of solo piano, that most established of genres with its roots – albeit not its earliest – firmly in the conventions of 19th century bourgeois society. If the piece can be said to have one overriding aesthetic aim, it is to transcend the negation of language – including its own – to reach a form of meta-language reconstructing the individual’s search for meaning.
The technical aspect of writing separately for the pianist’s ten fingers, as an ensemble rather than a unity, both underpinned and necessitated this conception. While imposing bizarre restrictions on the music’s fabric, it revealed otherwise inaccessible possibilities. This decision was inspired by the playing of Ian Pace, in which the precision and sensitivity of action and touch suggest precisely this: ten fingers rather than two hands.The title is a reference to Samuel Beckett’s prose work How It Is. While that work’s authorial voice begins its many attempts at narrative ‘when the panting stops’, i.e. once it has gathered its breath, it is precisely this state of speechlessness that constitutes the point of departure in when the panting STARTS. The piece was written for and is dedicated to Ian Pace.
Wieland Hoban was born in London in 1978. He began studying music and German at the University of Bristol, then studied composition at the Frankfurt Academy of Music and Performing Arts with Isabel Mundry, Hans Zender and Gerhard Müller-Hornbach. He has won various German composition prizes. In addition to his work as a composer he is also a freelance translator, primarily of writings in the fields of music and philosophy, including several books by Theodor W. Adorno and Peter Sloterdijk, as well as numerous essays for collections and journals; he has also published musical analyses and other theoretical texts. He has been a regular interpreter at the Darmstadt International Summer Course for New Music since 2000 and the Donaueschingen Music Days since 2011.
In his music, Wieland Hoban strives to create a multi-layered discourse and experience. He examines questions of context and re-contextualisation, of flow and stasis, and looks for ways to find differentiations between parameters and states in all aspects of the music. A central principle in this music is that differentiation requires many different conditions: complexity results not from surface density alone, but from probing different levels of density; timbral diversity comes not from focusing purely on extended playing techniques, but from exploring different modifications and negations of playing technique, focusing on individual parameters. Fixed structure and freedom, similarly, are in a dialectical relationship; neither state is considered desirable on its own, and the discourse results from the interplay between them. Though occasionally incorporating ideas from other arts or extra-musical areas, Hoban’s aim is to create a music whose qualities of flux, differentiation and self-reflection mirror and express the nature of consciousness itself.
Luigi Nono’s …..sofferte onde serene… for piano and tape (1975–77)
…Suffered, serene waves… was composed in a period of intense reflection and self-criticism that would lead Nono to new modes of composing and to renewed perspectives on the arts, aesthetics, and, crucially, on the political implications of art. Contrary to Nono’s pieces of the previous fifteen years …..sofferte onde serene… has no direct political message or contents. Its main foci are the study of Maurizio Pollini’s piano sonority and playing techniques, as well as the study of diverse compositional techniques and strategies. To a certain extent the piece is a renewed exploration of some constructive principles that Nono had learned in the late 1940s from his teachers Hermann Scherchen and Bruno Maderna (see Assis 2006: 150–55). In this sense, …..sofferte onde serene… may be seen as the beginning of a new path, as a piece that opened the door to a new ‘style’ – a style that would produce works such as Prometeo. Tragedia dell’ascolto (1981/84), Caminantes … Ayacucho (1986/87), or La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura. Madrigale per più caminantes con Gidon Kremer (1988/89).
This piece was not only conceived experimentally (especially the tape production) –its concert rendering involves various degrees of uncertainty and unpredictability of sonic combinations. Nono achieves this, in the first instance, through the use of ‘shadow’ sounds, similar sonorities that come sometimes from the piano, sometimes from the tape, and that generate a perceptual (con)fusion for the listener. This (con)fusion is enhanced by relatively free time-relations between live-piano and tape, allowing the performer on the piano and the performer controlling the sound-projection to intertwine a great variety of sonic affinities.
(Note by Paulo de Assis)