Four Squared for Ligeti

Four Squared for Ligeti
Dan Trueman

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?