Four pieces for toy piano

Inglis, Brian ORCID logoORCID: (2018) Four pieces for toy piano. [Composition]


Four Pieces for Toy Piano were commissioned by the international concert pianist and specialist in extended, prepared and toy piano performance, Kate Ryder. They were premiered by her at St George’s Church, Borough, London, UK (Borough New Music series) on 20 March 2018. The four pieces are titled, respectively, Prelude, Laugh, Beautiful Lofty Things and Water and Stone. The set was published by Composers Edition in 2018.
Two of the pieces incorporate text in various ways. ‘Laugh’ includes the recitation by the performer of a poem by the artist and sound sculptor Derek Shiel (inspired by Boccioni’s painting ‘La Risata’), interspersed with material played on the toy piano which itself is based on Shiel’s poetic text. This approach emphasises the inherently playful nature of toy piano performance. ‘Beautiful Lofty Things’ is also based on a text (by WB Yeats) through a technique similar to Messiaen’s ‘communicable language’, also used in my recorder composition Sailing to Byzantium (1999).
Piece 4 is notated graphically, and is optionally performable with field recordings of found sounds from Georgia, made in 2017. The concrete sounds of water forming a background ‘drone’ are counterpointed with toy piano sonorities arising from the graphic notation, whose composition/notation technique includes the tracing of natural images and objects, the motivation for which being the ‘serendipitous’ use of different forms of literally material objets trouvé.
The process of realising the notations in performance is problematised (or exposed) in toy piano performance by the inherently unpredictable nature of some of the instruments. Yet this can prove to be a strength, especially with graphic notation where the identity of the soundword is in any case more open. Realisation of Piece 4’s graphic score is informed by some surprisingly traditional (if eccentric) keyboard practices dating back to Schumann’s piano pieces, as well as more obvious precedents in Cage and Ligeti.
The set has also been recorded by Kate Ryder (Kingston University, September 2019)

Item Type: Composition
Additional Information: ISMN: 9790570682560
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Music group
Item ID: 25332
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Brian Inglis
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2018 12:25
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2020 13:03

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