Pianolith

Pianolith was written for the pianist GéNIA in 2003 and is scored for recorded rock sounds and piano. The piano material owes something to Scriabin in its mysterious elaboration of a hidden order.

Pianolith is dedicated to louise.

The piano part comprises ten passages of eight (occasionally nine) paired chords, interspersed with silences. Some of the chord pairs contain passing notes and some simply repeat. The piano should never play alone but should take its cue from the CD. Whenever a rock grind begins, the piano should wait for two or three rotations and then enter, staying roughly 'in time' with the rocks. This will mean an uneven tempo, which is fine. Do not play during the shingle cascade. The overall mood should be intense but not sombre, a ritual action. Dynamics are an overall pianissimo, but balanced with the rock sounds (which vary in amplitude). Use of pedal is left to the performer's interpretation.

The digital part consists of ten rock grinds interspersed with silence. Each grind is created by rubbing two rocks together in a circular motion, which has a clear slow rhythm. In the silence following the fifth grind there is a small cascade of shingle. The grinds simply atart and stop, they do not fade in or out. The balance of rocks and piano should be such that the rocks are highly 'present' to the audience (although not particularly loud), but the piano is also audible. Stereo diffusion is adequate. It may be possible to imagine a live version in which rocks are ground by a performer. In this case, they would need to be amlipfied in some way.

Here is a performance by Barry Truax

Here is a performance by Richard Whalley

Here is an interview with GéNIA about the piece.

Here is the score