by Dan Senn
Twenty Short Sections over 23 Minutes
for Piano and Fixed Audio
“Heavy Glass On Granite, Light”
is for solo piano and fixed audio. The piano parts were composed in April and May of 2022 in Dan's Smíchov Studio in Prague. The fixed audio sounds were completed in February 2022 at Studio FMEra in Watertown, Wisconsin. The backing sounds were derived from striking a heavy piece of Swedish crystal against a rectangular slab of Italian marble. The score is presented on video with a moving conducting line to assist synchronisation. A pdf score is also available.
In the far right column there are 3 versions of the video score: 1) A Tutti version with the fixed audio part, a Sibelius generated midi piano and conducting line. 2) A Piano Only version with piano plus a conducting line. 3) A Fixed Audio version with the backing sounds and conducting line. All include piano notation and a “Fixed Audio” line without note heads for cueing. These are provided for score review and rehearsal. A high rez performance video abd contiguous score is available here.
Twenty Short Sections
The sections have durations between 42” and 80” separated by 8” of titling with 4 silent introductory beats. Performers often have an aversion to midi performances but for this work the Tutti and Piano Only versions must be embraced completely to learn the score that, in places, is impenetrable. In this respect, Heavy Glass... should be learned as a rock band might a recording it is imitating. This is further explained under Metrical Netting.
Dan Senn is a fluxus artist working in music composition
and event production, kinetic sound sculpture and installation, experimental and documentary film. He has been a professor of music and art in the United States and Australia and travels internationally as a lecturer, performer and installation artist. He lives in Prague where he directs the Echofluxx Media Art festivals, and Watertown, Wisconsin, in the USA, with his partner-collaborator, Caroline Senn. Dan's work moves freely between expressive extremes and languages depending upon the aesthetic joust at hand. Dan is co-founder of Roulette Intermedium in New York City, Cascadia Composers of Portland Oregon, and the Echofluxx media festivals in Prague.
The Fixed Audio parts of Heavy Glass… rest atop a “metrical netting” of 4/4 time presented at a rate of quarter =120 bps. These sounds are a ci. 5' recording of a free improvisation by the composer (extended through inversion, retrograde and inverted rerograde manipulations), one without restraints, as one would expect. The 120 bps rate is used to capture the rhythmic nuance of the improvisation while giving a nod to notational and human performance limitations. The shortest rhythmic fraction used is a 32nd note at 120 bps. This was determined to be the shortest value for catching the swing of live performance within a traditional score, albeit, not without problems. The recording of the improvisation was, in effect, “dropped” onto this "netting” to produce the fewest possible quantising problems while maintaining its expressiveness. This, however, pushed the limits of standard performance practice especially where the gestural subtleties of the improvised line was desired. The compositional options here were to 1) replace the "exact" rhythms with a quantised variant or 2) ask the performer to internalize the rhythms after listening to a midi performance. Both approaches were used in this work. In contrast, and for much of the entire work, the given notation adheres neatly to the underlying 4/4 time signature (metrical netting) and is straight forward. Still, at one extreme the work gives way to the natural flow of the improvisation and at the other to metrical rigidity. The work should thus be learned traditionally and through memorization using the midi score versions presented in the next column.
The banner at the top of this page is a closeup of the Swedish crystal glass used as a mallet in the Fixed Audio parts lying over the Italian slab of granite.
Rehearsal Video/pdf Scores by Section
Listen to videos with headphones.
01 - 0'42" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
02 - 1'06" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
03 - 1'04" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
04 - 0'56" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
05 - 0'55" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
06 - 0'50" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
07 - 1'04" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
08 - 0'42" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
09 - 0'56" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
10 - 1'00" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
11 - 1'14" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
12 - 1'20" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
13 - 1'06" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
14 - 0'42" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
15 - 0'46" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
16 - 1'08" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
17 - 1'16" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
18 - 1'20" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
19 - 0'54" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
20 - 0'52" | Tutti Vs | Piano Only | Fixed Audio | pdf
All Twenty Sections | Tutti Vs | Fixed Audio|
Sound Engineering Options
Performances may be sound engineered by the pianist from a computer or mp4 playback machine attached to a flat screen in the score positon on the piano, or an iPad-like device mounted above the piano keyboard. Audio connections from the video device, can be made via Bluetooth or hardwired using cables. For rehearsals, a pair of self-powered studio monitors with 4” woofers (PreSonus or Mackie) mounted on the left and right sides of the piano will do (see image to the left) but for chamber concert performances the speakers should sport 12” woofers or larger to capture the full fidelity of the pre-recorded audio. For large venues, the piano may need slight amplification using a discrete sound system beneath the piano to maintain the instrument position within the stereo field. It may be better to use a nimble and talented sound engineer to maintain a balance between the live and pre-recorded parts whether the piano is or isn’t amplified.
Concert Performance Video Scores
The video rehearsal scores (Tutti, Piano Only and Fixed Audio versions) presented above are at lower resolution than the concert performance version available here.