Both Ligeti’s famous Musica Ricercata II, for solo piano (perhaps most known for its cameo in the Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut), and my own Four, for, um, solo 6-string electric violin (unknown for anything, as far as I know) are spare, spacious pieces, featuring just a few notes, oft repeated and separated by long silences. In an experiment in musical vandalism, I have smashed these two pieces together and filled most of the silences as best I can. At the heart of this new Frankenstein is a pair of “synchronic metropianos:” laptop-interconnected, strangely-tuned virtual pianos with embedded, pitched metronomes (don’t worry if that’s not crystal clear—you’ll hear). This pair, in tandem with a good, old-fashioned piano, creates a constantly shifting core of meter changes, among other things.
Surrounding this trio is a cohort of other laptop instruments. Some slowly sustain the piano sounds with modified golf video-game controllers (the tethers, fast becoming a standard instrument in the laptop orchestra worldwide; no kidding here!). Others type, creating chattering clusters of clicky sounds, all synchronized via a wireless network.
Finally (speaking of Frankensteins), others play a bizarre digital hybrid of the flute and electric guitar (affectionately called the blotar, a brainchild of the nutty Dr. Perry Cook), also with the tethers (multi-talented, these tethers), using a neural-network created with PLOrk co-Director Rebecca Fiebrink’s fantastic Wekinator.
Finally finally, the piece closes with the chatter of as many mechanical metronomes as we could muster, something Ligeti himself would surely have appreciated. Did I forget anything?