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Sun 28th September

On the train going to do IF WET and realizing that there are so many clear parallels between the senses and feelings of motherhood and the act of creating an instrument, that the piano texts really do feel relevant (e.g. about not knowing fully about something til you make it; about finding out by being with it; “getting inside” etc). I created a montage of little film and sound clips and, after doing my sensible power point, played these in a kind of ‘hash up’ for the audience.
In the station going back. So, I did it – I shared some of my material to a real, live audience – and it kind of worked! I was really interested to discover how terrified I was, about to press play on the Stan birth-day clip. But they seemed to think it was ok, not over-sharing! And fascinating to hear how audiences MAKE CONNECTIONS IN THEIR OWN HEADS. I need to keep remembering this! That we make something then give it to someone who then processes it themselves. They are processing. So whatever we give them, they will build connections and meaning and probably deduce all sorts of things that we didn’t even think of.
Before I listen to the feedback, what I remember are these points:
1. That people were moved
2. That people laughed
3. That the ratcheting is very repetitive and people worry about my safety but also enjoy the almost pointless or energetic nature of it. Clearly btw this is the thing to get rhythm from for the show. If running tracks could come from anything, it’s this.
4. There were nice comments about the contrast of how a concert pianist should act compared to the brutality and peril I’m exhibiting! Also about toys being made to be obsessively (boringly!) safe but I am using them to be quasi dangerous and certainly randomly semi-violent/chaotic.
5. That people loved the swinging and could have watched it for ages. This could be the ending. Others wanted resolution whilst some wanted no answers. I think I could build into an epic, pulsing something and then leave it or even lie down in front of it to a very slow fade out, perhaps even holding it in a very low light for quite a while and then going back around to play the lullaby of the opening again, or even play with the child bedtime projector on the front of the instrument… Perhaps bring in ‘you can hardly hear them breathe when they’re deeply asleep’. But also right after “connectedness” I say about the hypocritical thing of them being in nursery…so I could burst it. But it just doesn’t seem right to do that in the version of events I just played, as the sad bit comes after the audience have enjoyed (endured?!) a lot and also laughed with me and possibly cried with me, so it seems fairer to be fair to them at that exact point.
6. I think now that I should make cool music come out of the fun stuff.
7. I think that I should draw the peas and the broccoli and the burger (or sausage?! Or toast) on an easle, as they did appreciate knowing it was silly plastic food.

Sat 27th September

• Trying soundtrack of me describing Stan’s birth-day whilst watching me swinging piano from behind. Could be very tense/harsh/strong but I’d need to edit out ALL human chatty & gory/extra bits I think.
• Motivated today by finding my run the other day to Lou too cheery, busy, frankly positive! ☺ Want to create more space, poetry, beauty, moving-moments.
• Have been experimenting with Wii’s swinging and strapped to piano swinging. Poss a distraction but they are a nice way to get a texture going to play against. Perhaps I’m worrying too much about demonstrating them: making sure people get what they do. Or maybe this is important as otherwise people feel left out. But need to quickly go beyond that into seeing if something sounds nice.

Sun 21st September

Been a funny day. Yesterday was extremely productive, playing with lots of different things and discovering characteristics that I hadn’t predicted (eg the curve of the piano having different possibilities according to how far (mid-ratchet) I go: either a fun ramp for things to fly off OR a kind of pendulum for objects on wheels (such as Stan’s ambulance…). Today though, I decided to focus on trying out the Wii idea, so brought in all of my music kit: cables, stands etc, ready to try going through Ableton and using the swing of the Wii controllers (I thought I had 3 but one of them is dead ☹ ) to play with delay. This morning I managed to forget my soundcard (d’oh!) and a few little cable bits but then, returning this afternoon with genuine motivation to crack on I got everything wired up to discover my Macbook doesn’t take the Firewire 800. Of course I knew that, but what with the building project and getting the piano built and having Sylvie – just normal busy life stuff! – I’d forgotten. Shame!

More interesting though is to say that I’d been rather stuck by having a very productive first day where I had lots of ideas and tried lots of things – different positions with the piano etc – and even created a kind of structure, where one thing led to the next. This immediately fixed everything and suddenly I was trying to ‘tweak’ where I lucky patcher no root download clearly had hardly started the process. My meeting with Lou (the Dramaturg) freed all of this up and reminded to really focus on tasks with no worry about where it might fit (if it even would) in the eventual piece.

Another thing that’s interesting to observe is that yesterday I brought in loads of kids toys and suddenly the space was all homely, domestic, colourful and fun looking. Today when I brought in all of the music kit it instantly became male, complicated, black, technical and boring!

Inside piano music (ongoing)

Stefan Prins Piano Hero Think about discipline in movement, exactness, key points of sound and getting to them / away from them quickly; the anarchy or wildness of the possible sounds from inside a piano; variation; how a texture can be built up by sequential sounds – how linear textures might create vertical shapes;

Thurs 4th Sept P.S. the more I read about pendulums…

..the more the demonstrations sound like the sort of silly multi-tasking you end up doing as a parent of young children. Like I’ve just been reading about balance carts which demonstrate an inverted pendulum (also easily demonstrated by balancing a broomstick on the end of your finger), and an extension or variation on the initial ‘simple’ set up (balancing the cart-pendulum system on a see-saw) then starts to sound like the layering of feeding, watching, helping, answering, that all takes place a few seconds here, a few there…

Thurs 4th Sept

The start of a project… Very happy to have received my ACE funding (must get the logo up here!) and have started work on my new, solo theatre show featuring my new Inside-Out Piano, to be premiered at Brighton Dome on 10th December (in Laura Duccheschi’s Earsthetic Festival – music with a visual element). My whole project is an exercise in applying theatre processes to music creation, so I have a team of people helping me, time rehearsing in a space, a work-in-progress showing, and a lot to learn! I am currently sitting on the floor of my lounge sketching images of movement and motion on A3 sheets whilst listening to inside piano music (Frederik Croene at Holland Festival currently, mixed in with Philip Mead playing George Crumb). The motions include the piano swinging and how that might link to something based around Pendulum Music; Lister machines which I saw at a country fair where Stan was very excited to sit on a lot of tractors… and the Triple Pendulum mentioned by Hans Peter Duerr, who I was put onto by Matthias Mohr – thank you! (Weirdly though, having just looked for an image of the triple pendulum I just discovered this article which goes into a fair amount of mathematical depth to discern the relevance…in your golf shot!).
Anyway…I’m currently musing on some key ideas which might penetrate the piece – the industrial nature of the piano, the industriousness of motherhood; how mist seems to link very strong memories for me and how appearance and disappearance might be represented. So far I’ve had to answer a great set of questions from the Dramaturg, Lou Cope, e.g. which my favourite shows have been: it turns out I have some pretty abstract things in the top spot – Pina Bausch’s Cafe Muller, Kris Verdonck’s Duet and – since last week’s very happy trip to the Ruhrtrienniale with the Matthew Herbert tour – Romeo Castelluci’s Le Sacre.
I’m also excited about making a film with Joseph Rodrigues Marsh for Sinfini Music. It’s good to be thinking about images a lot – this all makes a very interesting change from practising piano. I just hope I can do the opportunity justice! Watch this space for updates and follow #insideoutpiano on Twitter (and maybe Instagram if I can get around to acquainting myself with it. I do like taking pics so I probably should. Slightly late to the party there! Like a fortnight ago when I discovered Radiohead’s No Surprises video and was compelled to watch it quite a few times. Then realised it had probably been made around 20 years ago.)