Instrumentation: Piano and Live Electronics
Transformations, written for piano and electronics, is my first work utilizing a solo instrument with live electronic manipulations. As the title suggests, I used electronics paired with prepared piano and extended piano techniques to transform and develop the original idea. The motive heard at the beginning of the work features three ideas that develop simultaneously through the rest of the piece: the descending semitone, the percussive attack, and the “buzzing” heard after said attack. Using notation that does not always specify the order of events, these three original musical ideas are developed in a non-linear fashion, until they reach their final versions and eventually come to a head just before the opening motive returns in its original form, providing a bookend to the piece.
The other concept explored in this work is the relationship between the performer and the electronics. During the first part of the piece, the performer controls the electronics, deciding when to switch between boxes and when to move to the next section. Just after the halfway point, though, the electronics seize control, and each “beep” prompts the player to change what they are playing. Eventually, the electronics reach a fever pitch as they completely take over, developing motives heard from disparate moments earlier in the piece through a fixed media climax. The performer finally wrests control back from the electronics for the closing section, before the piano and electronics fade out together.
Completed: February 2021
February 9, 2022
Isaac Raymond Smith, piano
University of Louisville Computer Music Concert
Bird Recital Hall, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY