With/without    PROGRAM NOTES | PHOTOS | SONATA EXCERPTS | SONATA FULL



London-based music and mathematics professor Elaine Chew presents the world premiere of Oded Ben-Tal’s Sonata (Scarlatti, Schubert, Scriabin) for Magnetic Resonator Piano and live electronics together with performances of contemporary piano pieces by Carmine Cella, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, and Dorien Herreman’s computer program MorpheuS. The concert features dual performances of pieces, with and without the magnetic resonator piano (MRP), an acoustic piano augmented with electromagnetic actuators capable of creating infinite sustain, harmonics and vibratos, and crescendo after onset. The pieces will be interspersed with performer and composer presentations on the making of the music and discussions on expressivity with and without the MRP. MRP inventor Andrew McPherson will also give an introduction to the instrument. Audience members will have a chance to engage in further dialogue with the creators in an open Q&A.

About the Performer
Pianist-mathematician Elaine Chew is Professor of Digital Media in the Centre for Digital Music (C4DM) at Queen Mary University of London. Deeply passionate about communicating not only her art, but also how and why musicians do what they do, she specializes in boundary-crossing concert-conversations that challenge the ways we think about and make music. Also an award-winning scientist, she frequently gives keynote lectures on her mathematical work on musical expression and the music structures that shape expressivity.

Program Notes
Sonata (Scarlatti, Schubert, Scriabin) (2013) by Oded Ben-Tal
for Magnetic Resonator Piano and live electronics
World Premiere
As a composer of the early 21st century I find the long history of music available to me both enriching and intimidating. I try to both embrace the musics of the past while at the same time keep it at bay. None more so then when composing a Piano Sonata under the stern and frozen gaze of old masters. Obviously, my sonata is not in sonata-form though you could hear the interplay of two ideas – the calm and the agitated – as they duke it out. But ultimately it is about the sounding of the piano and the pianist.
        I am grateful to Andrew McPherson for creating the Magnetic Resonator Piano and letting me play with it. I also wish to thank pianist Mark Knoop for trying some of the sketches with me. And to Elaine Chew, who will give the première here today. 

Expectations I (2011) by Carmine Emanuele Cella
UK Premiere
This work aims to create a shift in attention from harmony to timbre and vice versa using only traditional keyboard techniques, i.e. without preparing the piano, and without electronics. Compositions for piano normally focus primarily on one of three aspects: harmony, rhythmic attacks (Ligeti studies), or timbre (Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata). Piano preparation and electronics can create shifts in the primary aspect, as in the music of Stroppa, who proposed a reversal of the piano’s natural decay in favor of an artificial sustain. In this case, the ear first focuses on frequency, on the note itself, then it shifts to the temporal evolution. The question is whether shifts in focus from harmony to/from timbre can be created with only the acoustic piano, without the help of electronics or preparation?
        A shift from harmony to timbre can be thought of as a process of spatial transformation. There exist three kinds of space associated with sound: 1. interior space, the space defined by the ratio between the sound’s partials; 2. outer space, the space defined by the ratio of two different sounds; 3. virtual space, the space defined by the ratio between the sounds and its environment, also known as the listening space. Thus, a harmony-timbral shift is one from outer (interval) to internal (timbre) space. Through this transformation, we pass from composing with sounds to compose sounds. This is done through the piano’s resonances, with the goal of having the tonal aspects of the composition emerge through the resonances. Finding the resonances may be achieved through the mathematical process of convolution. (Synopsis of the composer’s preparatory notes.)

MorpheuS Bach/Haydn (2016) by Dorien Herremans, Elaine Chew
These are computer-generated solo piano pieces created under the aegis of Dorien Herremans’ MorpheuS project at Elaine Chew’s Music Performance and Expression lab at the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary University of London. MorpheuS builds on Herremans’ doctoral research at the University of Antwerp to generate music with structure using an optimization (local search) approach. MorpheuS follows the rhythm of original pieces exactly, it also generates music according to the pitch ranges and tonal tension profile derived from the template piece, where tonal tension is quantified through Chew’s spiral array, a geometric model for tonality. Repetition patterns in the original work are replicated in the new piece. The MorpheuS project is funded through the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions fellowship scheme.

Stolen Rhythm (2009) by Cheryl Frances-Hoad / Franz Joseph Haydn
This Haydn-inspired piece was commissioned by pianist Matthew Schellhorn as part of his Homage to Haydn on the 200th anniversary of the composer’s death. The piece is based on the third movement (Finale) of Haydn’s Sonata in Eb, Hob XVI:45, chosen for its “boundless energy and wit”. Except for the occasional note shifted by an eighth or sixteenth and the odd 11/16 bar, in which the composer had removed one sixteenth note from the 3/4 bar, the rhythmic content follows exactly that of Haydn’s sonata movement. The harmonic and melodic content derives from various transmutations of the notes B-A-D-D-G, a translation of H-A-Y-D-N (where B=H as in German, and with D and G replacing otherwise unplayable letters). The composition was selected as best piece in the Solo/Duo Instrumental category at the BASCA British Composer Awards 2010.

About the Creators
Oded Ben-Talccrma.stanford.edu/~oded
Carmine Emanuele Cellawww.carminecella.com
Dorien Herremansdorienherremans.com/biography
Andrew McPhersonwww.eecs.qmul.ac.uk/~andrewm