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Listen to Three Hours of Music, From a Single Note

How long are you able to play the seven one-of-a-kind D notes on the piano — without it being boring? If everybody is desirable to tackle that question, it’s the pianist R. Andrew Lee, who has developed a popularity as an interpreter of extraordinarily — O.K., almost unbelievably — lengthy, sparse contemporary music. By 2014, when he first approached “The Four Pillars Appearing From the Equal D Under Resonating Apparitions of The Eternal Process within the Midwinter Starfield,” the composer Randy Gibson’s 210-minute, D-saturated paintings, Mr. Lee had already recorded Dennis Johnson’s 5-hour “November,” from 1959. He then launched a well-acquired software of notably quiet works using Eva-Maria Houben, a valuable parent of the Wandelweiser composers collective.

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But whilst he faced Mr. Gibson’s “Four Pillars” fashion during the last few years, Mr. Lee admits he turned into daunted. In the lining notes for his new recording of the paintings at the Irritable Hedgehog label, which was launched for download on Bandcamp on Friday, Mr. Lee recollects his reaction to Mr. Gibson’s description of positive sections of the deliberate piece as “melodic.” ”What do you suggest by ‘melodic’?” Mr. Lee says he questioned. “I’m handiest playing octaves!” As is once in a while the case with outwardly unvaried Minimalist song, the feel emerges from the overtones, the frequencies that sound above essential notes (in this situation, the ones seven Ds at the piano).

Mr. Gibson’s digital design for the piece highlights these evidently going on acoustic phenomena, making their ghostly best more without difficulty perceived. By recording his pianist’s playing in real-time and feeding the resonating notes into a computer set up to the audio system, Mr. Gibson can increase a chain of overtone relationships, pushing them back into the concert corridor as the piece very, very progressively progresses. Listeners with the persistence for slowly unfolding drones will hit upon good-sized adjustments in texture over the sprawling length of Mr. Lee’s recorded overall performance. Both long tones and shorter attacks weave across the constant insistence of his acoustic piano gambling, and your feelings of in which the performer ends and the pc help begins grows pleasingly obscured. (Next week, Mr. Lee will play “The Four Pillars” at the Sixth International Conference on Music and Minimalism in Knoxville, Tenn.)


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Mr. Lee stated in an interview that in an early part of the work, “Establishing,” the piano’s middle D gave him “those two particular overtones that just dance to and fro,” growing “a first-rate little melody above the single strike of a be aware.” During the phase’s better D notes, Mr. Gibson’s digital filters reply with a chirping awareness of the overtones, evoking a maniacally picked string tool. Nearly midway through the work’s penultimate segment — the hourlong “Roaring” Mr. Lee’s adventure to low D outcomes in one of the piano’s most dramatic interactions with the electronic setup. With Mr. Gibson’s pc generating sampled callbacks to frequencies highlighted earlier in the overall performance, Mr. Lee’s pass to this specific Dwell-known shows one of the work’s most arresting and, sure, roaring overtone clouds. “I never desired it to sense like ‘an electronic element,’” Mr. Gibson said in an interview, referring to his acoustic-meets-digital design. “Just more like an extension of the piano.”

Raised in Boulder, Colo. (he writes on his internet site of “traveling into the excessive mountains to have a look at the stars and the Milky Way and meditate on the expanses of existence”), Mr. Gibson spent two weeks in an undergraduate music application there before understanding he wanted to pursue a less traditional academic course. He moved to New York in 2001 and, seeing that 2003 has studied with the composer La Monte Young, one of the founders of Minimalism, and the visual artist and musician Marian Zazeela. Whether acoustic or electronic in nature, Mr. Young’s compositions often appoint unconventional “just intonation” tunings and extended intervals. Like Mr. Young and Ms. Zazeela’s collaborative installations, Mr. Gibson’s stay performances tend to involve dreamy, meditative visible accompaniment.


Reviewing a 2015 overall performance of a three-and-a-quarter-hour Gibson drone epic for The New York Times, Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim mentioned his debt to Mr. Young, in addition to his capacity to create a powerful effect out of the only materials. A cello’s transfer from single notes to a double-stopped fifth, she wrote, “registered as a gesture of huge significance.” Mr. Gibson and “The Four Pillars” don’t require a piano; his use of electronic filters has allowed him to provide his preferred tonal relationships to the usage of other contraptions, too.

At a latest live performance on the Wild Project in Manhattan, the percussion trio Tigue used the “Four Pillars” tuning, gambling tam-tam gongs that had been established to Mr. Gibson’s digital design. Amy Garapic, a member of the ensemble, said that studying the paintings’ instructions on the web page changed into one thing. Understanding its goals in a stay placed changed into something else entirely. “Being capable of listening to the filters and the tones popping out really requires a extraordinary form of deep listening than I assume any of us had done within the beyond,” she said, “which changed into a honestly precise, hard, and thrilling revel in.”

Irving Frazier
Irving Frazierhttps://tessla.org
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