EDITION WANDELWEISER RECORDS
> Burkhard Schlothauer
ab tasten / three pianos drumming
Jongah Yoon, piano;
Piano Inside Out
(Rienhold Friedl, Michael Iber, Yungkyung Lee, piano)
As a result of the fascination the unmuted decay of the piano sound
held for me, the fading string vibration became the focus of "ab tasten". In each sound of this piece at least one tone fades away unmuted.
I also decided to take a given fact (the different fading times: the
higher a tone, the shorter it sounds) to form the basis of the
music’s temporal organisation. The respective unmuted string
determines the overall duration of the sound and as a result, the
timing of the composed "muting activities".
Having each sound followed by a pause of possibly equal weight is a
formal concept I have used in many of my compositions since1995. Each
sound stands alone, is a "piece" of music in its own right, an
autonomous "image", an individual, that may be perceived in its entire
appearance from sounding to dying away. The order of the sounds may be
chosen by the musicians themselves.
In "ab tasten" I discovered my
interest for the moment the sound falls silent, dies away. I noticed,
that at some point it is not longer possible to asses whether the
strings are still vibrating audibly, or whether it is only the image of
the sound which is still in the mind. A sound has a beginning, an
existence and an end. These parts, though, cannot be clearly divided:
we cannot really say where the beginning is, where beginning turns into
continuity, where continuity becomes an ending, where the end is.
In "three pianos drumming" from
1999, which I wrote for PianoInsideOut (Reinhold Friedl, Michael Iber,
Yunkyung Lee), on the other hand, the piano is used only as a
percussion instrument. In three of the Steinway D grand pianos of
Sender Freies Berlin the same bass string was taped with adhesive tape,
strongly and lastingly muting the string. By this treatment the hammer
beating of the piano becomes clearly audible. The piano is treated as
what it is in terms of its sound production: as a "hammering machine".
Hearing recordings of still existing hunter and gatherer cultures, I
kept hearing rhythms which were pure pulse. These musics – no
matter from which region of the earth – refrain from any
conscious accentuation or division of rhythmic units. To me, this
seemed to be an archetype of rhythm, some sort of nucleus to every
rhythmic music, in which the hypnotic power of these first man made
time forms makes itself felt.
In "three pianos drumming" the
performers determine a set of parameters (dynamics, tempo, pitch)
within a given range and stick to these for the entire piece.
Each part has its own sequence of beats and pauses, allowing for the
emergence of very subtle spaces and microrhythms between the pianos.
What fascinates me about this piece (and also its successor, "drumming for one to many percussionists"),
is that it remains the same piece, regardless of whether it is played
pianissimo or forte, no matter which tempo between 30 and 120 b.p.m is
used. or what order of pages the players select. Different versions
take on very different "expressive qualities". To me, it seemed very
important for my development to have composed a piece which allows for
a strong expressive power, without me as a composer having provided it