AVENTURO 9: David Rosenboom | Piano Etude 1 (Alpha) (1975)

Revisting the Alvin Lucier piece Music For A Solo Performer led me to other musicians that had utilised the human brain as some form of input to the music (as oppose to using it to construct the music itself!)

David Rosenboom work has always been highly interesting to me but returning to his Piano Etude 1 (alpha) was a bit of revelation.  According to his website the piece is described as –

Two pianos playing patterns in fast, note–by–note alternation with each other, or one piano with head–gap tape delay at 7 1/2 ips or equivalent short delay.

On this surface this 14-minute-long work feels like an exhilarating if fairly well explored aspect of piano phasing experimentation. However, the pianos are somehow filtered by the performer’s brainwaves given the piece an oddness that starts to tug at the keys around the 60 second mark. A strange tumbling resonance create a morphing and clipping of the rapidly cascading keys. Slowly, an almost aquatic mutation starts to happen as you are drawn into this superbly original weirdness.

As with Lucier’s piece, it seems the focussed human mind as a sound generator is very capable of creating and playing very strange kinds of chaotic beauty.


Brainwave Music is available on the original 1975 vinyl here

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