PRÉLUDE FOR PIANO: (...AWAKENING)

In April 2012 I escaped a substantial domestic fire. The family piano, a small Chappell grand, sadly had a different fate. After the emergency hosing-down of the house, and a week’s worth of rain entering through broken windows, the condition of the instrument deteriorated to such an extent that there was no option but to dismantle it for the rubbish skip.

As the piano was taken apart, I recorded several preludes capturing sounds enabled by its dismemberment. I sought to reconnect with my memories of discovering Debussy’s Préludes upon the once-pristine instrument, re-imagining the limits of piano sonority. (…Awakening) attempts to invigorate a wrecked carcass, looking to find beauty in an object that is seemingly damaged beyond use.

The first step in the piano’s deconstruction was the removal of the cast-iron frame from its wooden casing. By this stage many of the strings had been severed from the hammers and the keys wrenched from the keyboard. To draw sounds from the instrument I struck different parts of the frame with an assortment of objects, including iron mallets wrapped in wool, small metal hammers, eighteenth-century port glasses, and shards of glass. 

(…Awakening) exists, first and foremost, as a recording that documents a moment in time. I never intended the composition to be performed live and therefore a musical score was not part of the composition process. However, in 2015 I started to experiment with the idea of transcribing the work. I developed an original form of notation inspired by medieval manuscripts - one that was not readable in any conventional sense, but visually expressive of the unique methods of attack used in this piece and the different 'voices' that can be heard throughout. I drafted the transcription using a notation software program and, with this draft as a template, the composer and artist Anna Pidgorna created a linocut print (a detail from which is shown above). This is a project that we are continuing to work on.