Piano Study (2015)
Time begins in One. A field of undifferentiated impulses with no accents or emphasis or meter. It is nearly impossible to play time in One with two hands, since as humans we are at home in Twoness. We breath in it, walk in it, hear in it. We must inflect oneness with twoness. With twoness comes differentiation of patterning and the dynamics of exchange. We see meter spiral out from the fundamental shift from One to Two and with it comes Three. 122122122…
This piece is a study on hocketed rhythmic alterations between overlapping hands and the phrases that arise from them. Hands begin with simple etude style fingering patterns that deteriorate or morph over time by simple pattern alterations. For example: 5 1 5 2 repeating in the left hand interpolated by 1 3 2 4 repeating in the right creates a simple alternating pattern in Two which is denoted by the register of the pitches - low high low high. By repeating a note or removing a note, the pattern is altered and phrasing arises. By disproportionately altering the length of the patterns we introduce rhythmic cycling. Piano Study is an exercise for improvisors to attempt to maintain control over the pattern while consistently adding complexity to the arpeggiation of two handed voicings. Inevitably, the intricately woven hocketing fractures into parts and gives way to entropy.
I was inspired by both Ligeti’s The Devil’s Staircase and afro-cuban Montuno in making this piece, because they are both masterful example of how the interpolation of arpeggios can create the sensation of contrary motion.