Ivories

January 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

The limits of my musical imagination come to rest somewhere in the polyphony of an acoustic piano’s natural overtones. To me it’s the most beautiful instrument. Since the 19th century the piano has asserted man’s liminal relationship with space-time and harmony. Although perfectly conceived, the instrument’s illusive presentation of an ideal has drawn us in the 21st century towards it destruction. English composer Brian Ferneyhough creates works that are meant to be impossible for the performer. By extending the player and the instrument to their extremes, these works are driven by the aesthetics of their systematic failure.

This artificial madness isn’t necessary. Look at Bill Evans – history tells us he was high on something just to hammer out those notes. Thus it seems  backwards to create a process for elucidating our limitations on the instrument. The fact we already recognize said limitations is evident from our long commitment to searching for absolutes in these big wooden boxes with 88 carved elephant bones. From the time of Chopin to the present – with players of the caliber of Keith Jarret and Ethan Iverson – have we craved those meticulously planned, rich harmonies without really understanding what they’re saying to us.

This is so unfocused because the ontology of the piano is so mysterious. I guess I am just saying I DON’T GET IT, in the same way I GET the drums or even the guitar.  But I thought it was worth taking a moment to think about it.

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