Other Minds Special Programs ➔ Other Minds Presents: Nancarrow at 100 - A Centennial Celebration: Discover Nancarrow No. 2 - Eyeballs Out! How Performers Learned to “Play” Nancarrow (Nov. 4, 2012), 1 of 2

Digital Audio

Event Type
Lectures and Panel Discussions
Other Minds
Program Series
Other Minds Presents
Program Length
110 min
1 of 2
| broadcast
| 2012-11-04 | created
This is the second panel discussion of “Nancarrow at 100: A Centennial Celebration” a three day festival of films and music celebrating the life and work of Conlon Nancarrow. The festival was produced by Other Minds in collaboration with Cal Performances, the U. C. Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive, and was held on November 2-4, 2012. This panel discussion was the first event held on November 4, 2012, following which there was a film presentation at the Pacific Film Archive Theater, and a concluding concert, also held at Hertz Hall on U. C. Berkeley campus.

Moderator Charles Amirkhanian is joined by sound sculptor Trimpin, composer and musicologist Kyle Gann, pianola virtuoso Rex Lawson, the piano duo of Amy Williams and Helena Bugallo, composer and percussionist Dominic Murcott with fellow percussionist Chris Froh, and violinist Graeme Jennings. The main topic discussed was the challenge in reproducing the player piano music of Nancarrow, be it by a digital controller placed on top of a piano keyboard, a pianola, or by two live pianists. All agreed that due to the varying types of mechanical and human interfaces used in these arrangements some of the intensities of the original rolls needed to be adjusted, with some of the resulting notes being slightly off key, with different dynamics or tempo, or otherwise alternatively interpreted. To demonstrate some of the tradeoffs required when transcribing or arranging Nancarrow’s music we hear a number of examples including “Para Yoko” performed with a digital Vorsetzer controller, “Study No. 6” performed on the pianola as well as a version for piano four-hands. Even more adventurous reinterpretations follow with Murcott’s reworking of Nancarrow’s “Piece for Tape” into a work for percussion, and Nancarrow’s Tocatta performed with a pianola and violin. As Murcott admits, when Nancarrow’s compositions call for more notes than is humanly possible to play compromises must be made, and yet it is still possible to impart the energy and even intentions of the composer, if not the pitch perfect reproduction of every note.
The panel discussion also includes Kyle Gann presenting some piano rolls recovered from the Nancarrow archive, for which he receives some help from the panel in identifying these unnamed or incomplete sketches. The event then concludes with Rex Lawson performing an excerpt from Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite,” an originally orchestral work which the well known composer had personally transcribed for player piano.
20th century classical
New music
Musical Selections
Para Yoko, for two pianos with digital Vorsetzer controller (1990) (2:26) / Conlon Nancarrow -- Study No. 6, for pianola (3:38) / Conlon Nancarrow -- Study No. 6, for piano four hands (3:23) / Conlon Nancarrow -- Piece for Tape (ca. 1950s) (2:03) / Conlon Nancarrow -- Piece for Tape, for percussion (ca. 1950s) (2:36) / Conlon Nancarrow [arr. by Dominic Murcott] -- Tocatta, for pianola and violin (1935) (1:35) / Conlon Nancarrow
Rex Lawson, pianola (Study No. 6 ; Toccata)
Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo: (Study No. 6)
Amy Williams, piano (Study No. 6)
Helena Bugallo, (Study No. 6)
Chris Froh, percussion (Piece)
Graeme Jennings, violin (Toccata)
New music
20th century classical
Player piano music
Digital player piano music (Digital player pianos (2))
Pianola music, Arranged
Piano music (4 hands), Arranged
Electronic music
Percussion music, Arranged
Violin and pianola music, Arranged