I have always been fascinated by the sounds of piano tuning and wanted to write a piece based on the ritualistic atmosphere it can evoke before a concert begins, a kind of aural preludium. A good piano tuner is a musicmaker in his own right. He restores anew the raw materials used by the composer and performer according to the tuning of the day, laying the foundation for the realisation of their music. Every tuner has his own working rhythms combining the shifting of the hammer to a new tuning pin, playing the key to be tuned, adjusting the hammer to move the string onto the “right spot”. A tuner is continually listening to the speed of beats between intervals to determine the accuracy of his work and has his own special checks and controls to engineer a harmonic balance over the keyboard. These rhythms and the melodic and harmonic elements drawn from the equal temperament tuning were the source of the musical materials in the piece. I used the Yamaha Disklavier because I wanted to have the freedom to write for the piano without the technical limitations of a pianist and yet employ an acoustic instrument. Using the notation software Finale in a computer provided the means to write not only the notes but, also, to program the “interpretation” for the concert. Because a human performance is never entirely possible using a computer, the slightly mechanical sound produced on the Disklavier gave a quality I was looking for – “the piano tuning that became realtime music”.
- Christina Viola Oorebeek, Netherlands/USA, composer