present absence

Music for a pianist on a grand piano with electronics (2016-17), 20 min.
commissioned by the Taiwan Music Institute

Piano-Roll was once a specific storage form, with it the performance of a pianist could be notated. Unlike a record (tape, LP) or some other media, the music still runs through the moving keys (we are even able to see it). Listening to the no-ones playing, imagining the “present absence” of the musician. The speakers (the cases, the membranes) on the contrary, reconstruct the existence of playing piano in means of scratching (needle) and transformation of the electronic. The sound of piano, which is isolated from the original mechanism and acoustic, will be thus compressed and performed abstractly on materials, times and spaces, which might be unfamiliar to its initial methods and conditions. They are merely reflections (but may still fascinate us). This phenomenon called R. Murray Schafer: “Schizophonia”.

On the running keyboards, the hammers hit automatically on the strings and produce the music as usual. Were we even confused about the missing hands as well: the piano is an instrument and plays alone. Dealing with separation of sound and its source, the dialectic of body and soul makes this piece a subject. Connecting the electronics to the piano and installing the speakers in it, that would bring a conventional instrument the breath of live and change it into an individual, which lives beyond the black and white, grows up between the resonance case and the surrounding sounds; which also communicates with the pianist through the mutual harmony of ton and voice, and holds the conversation about the mutual production of being and nonbeing, imaginary and reality, full and empty.

A composition commissioned by the Taiwan Music Institute as a part of the scholarship program “Master Disciple and Companion” of Taiwan National Center for Traditional Arts.


17.04. 2017 | Forum Music Auditorium Taipei | Taiwan International Music Festival: A Moment For Music Pursuers | Final concert for the scholarship holders of the Taiwan Music Institute | premiere | Jennifer Hymer, Monica Gil Giraldo, CHEN Chengwen, with light design by Jean-Luc Penso and under the artistic director of LIAO Lin-ni