My 60 Memorable Games #52

“My 60 Memorable Games #52” is a piece for disklavier and four-channel live electronics. Inspired by Cage’s “Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano” it borrows Cage's notion of a one-player pianistic percussion orchestra but omits the human pianist - and in fact discards human participation completely leaving the computer to play a Yamaha Disklavier and live electronically treated prepared piano sounds plus a percussive virtual instrument. These components form a small percussive chamber group each of which is played from a structured score by the computer. Rather than baroque sonatas, the work consists of something more akin to short concerti grossi in which the different 'instruments' in this ensemble take turns to claim the spotlight as soloists supported by the others.

The work’s title refers to the chess game from which the structure of the work is derived - the 52nd of Bobby Fischer’s 60 Memorable Games. Cage’s work was, at the time of composition, 64 years old, (as was I), and the game was chosen arbitrarily as the first chess game I came across that had a total of 64 moves. Briefly, rather than consult the 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching to determine the piece as Cage might have done, the progress of the piece is determined more dynamically by the progress of the game, with events broadly determined by where pieces land on each successive move, and rhythmic and gestural aspects dependent on relationships between vacant and occupied squares. Each performance is unique since, though the computer follows a score and the structure of the piece is largely dictated by the structure of the game and events accordingly precisely sequenced, all the material within these events is, in performance, generated live and is variable within pre-defined parameters. The recording here is a stereo mp3 reduction of a studio performance at Goldsmiths College, University of London in August 2012.



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