Instrumental Music Sampling
For Morton Feldman (1988), piano solo. Title Page | First Page of Score
- For Morton Feldman was written in January, 1988 for pianist John Tilbury. It received its premiere in February of 1988 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco with the composer at the piano.
Beethoven in SoHo (1980), 2 pianos and electric bass. Page 1, Manuscript (piano) | Performance Directions
- I believe that Beethoven, if he were alive today, would have a loft in lower Manhattan rather than a high-rise apartment on Riverside Drive or West End Avenue.
An artist learns from history whether his or her work evolves from tradition, or deviates from it. The academician usually creates a model through theoretical analysis and imitates style, or safely draws from experimental ideas and interprets them into a style, thus establishing an experimental tradition. The experimental artist, however, is aware that the analysis of art has little to do with the act of creating it. That is, we cannot successfully incorporate new ideas into our work unless these ideas are generated out of our own process. We observe how composers have dealt with compositional issues; we are not merely lusting in our hearts for older music. For example, John Cage and Morton Feldman freely acknowledged the influence of Webern, but chose as the main issue his integration of sound, silence and proportions of musical space in time rather than the serial idiom.
New ideas are born out of either our knowledge or our ignorance of everything that has happened. (To do what he did, Satie must have known nothing. . . or everything.) In Beethoven in SoHo, I took all of the surface material from his Piano Sonata, Op. 54. I tried to fuse my ongoing interest in sound-continuum with the gradual unfolding of melodic and harmonic events that exist inherently in the order of repeated fragments. Hence, while the original material approaches abstraction, the perception of form emanates as an issue of process. -- Peter Gena, program notes for the catalog to New Music America 81, San Francisco.
Stabiles, First Clone (1978), ensemble. Title Page | Last Page of Manuscript
- This is a computer-aided variance of the piano piece, Stabiles (see below). The program used was MUSICOL (SUNY at Buffalo Technical Report No. 7: Gena, Peter. "MUSICOL Manual, Version 1, [MUSical Instruction Composition Oriented Language] for the 6400 Digital Computer," 1973.), a compositional language that employed user-selected stochastic processes in user-constructed time-blocks. The instruction set was made up entirely of musical mnemonics, while the output could have been dumped to a plotter program such as Donald Byrd's "SMUT" (System for Music Transcription) software [Byrd. Indiana University, 1984], or the default text printout by successive beats and subdivisions. Following are the original program notes for the performance at the 1978 International Computer Music Conference in Evanston, IL.
In a world of test-tube babies, it seems that musical cloning is well overdue. For many of use who employ the computer as a decision-maker in the actual compositional process, a method for synthetically assisting in a personally stylistic manner is attractive.
Stabiles, First Clone was generated from the musical material of my Stabiles, after Alexander Calder (1976), for piano. The parametric constraints and probabilities of textural densities were programmed for ten instruments in MUSICOL (Musical Instruction Composition-Oriented Language), a composing language that uses an instruction set of musical mnemonics.
This first clone basically inherits the specific sonic characteristics of the host piece by overlaying instruments according to density probabilities calculated from the piano work. Thus, use of the computer is this way enhances my ongoing interest in sustaining a sound continuum of varying timbres in an apparent unstructured time-framework. Subsequent clones can emphasize similar and/or diverse, personal features of the host piece. In other words, the new creation is more than a variation is more than just a variation, as it bears an uncanny resemblance to the host, but inevitably it manifests a divergent musical personality. Furthermore, subtleties of a composer's style can be developed and exploited.
Perhaps for composers, the ramifications of cloning an indefinite number of new works from a previous one may raise new aesthetic, philosophical, and even moral issues. Frankly, the whole idea scares the hell out of me. -- Peter Gena, November, 1978.
Valse (1977), piano solo, for The Waltz Project[C.F. Peters]. Nonesuch Records #D79011 | First Page | NYC Ballet|
- Just as Alan Stout has written the loudest, most ferocious work of the collection, Peter Gena has written the softest. The performer is instructed to place a wedge in the sustaining pedal after silently depressing a cluster of notes. Thus, throughout the piece, a ghost-like harmonic structure appears when other notes are sounded. There is a repeated two-note figure throughout which changes only at the very end. The effect is minimal but, in fact, quite unlike that of Philip Glass. This is a piece about unheard melodiesor, perhaps, once heard, now half forgotten. The work suggests the musical equivalent of Robert Rauschenbergs famous Erased de Kooning where he literally rubbed out most of the original sketch. Genas VALSE is dedicated to the undersigned. -- Robert Moran, from the liner notes to the Nonesuch recording.
Waltzes by 25 Contemporary Composers, was published in 1978 by C.F. Peters (New York). The collection of short, individual pieces was conceived, commissioned and compiled by composers Robert Moran and Robert Helps. A performance of all twenty-five debuted that year in the Sullivan Trading Room at the Art Institute of Chicago, and were subsequently produced at the Kitchen in New York. A selection of seventeen of the waltzes was recorded in 1981 by Nonesuch Records, NYC. Over the years many of them found their way into dance repertories. Phyllis Lamhut choreographed The Waltz Project for performances at the Delacorte Dance Festival in Central Park, The Riverside Dance Festival (Riverside Church), and elsewhere outside of New York. Peter Martins, director of the New York City Ballet, choreographed 11 of them for the American New Music Festival at Lincoln Center, where multiple performances took place there and at the Saratoga Summer Festival, in 1988. Martins production remains in the NYC Ballets repertory today, where there have been numerous repeat performances at Lincoln Center over the years. Subsequently, the Houston, San Francisco, and Fort Lauderdale Ballet companies adapted the project as well, and selections from the recording have been aired over the radio worldwide.
Stabiles (1976), piano solo. Score | YouTube (Iris Gerber, piano)
- Stabiles was written for the late pianist Philip Lorenz who premiered the piece in 1977 at Northwestern University. The tempo for each sonority is determined by the natural beats resulting from the sound in the piano. A selection of pitches are held permanently by the sustaining pedal, providing a ground sonority.