One of the first issues I have been thinking of is how to relate the electronics to what the pianist is playing and making both feel as a whole. I’ve always thought that this sounds easy, but it is clearly difficult and I often find myself disliking mixed music pieces as I find both entities to be too separate in negative way, or that they add little poetic meaning to each other.
Another issue related to this is to think about the production value of the whole piece. When one is mixing a piece of music, one has to make room for different elements, etc. This is also the truth in such music. Therefore, one of my first ideas that I will testing out is a relationship between the amplitude of the piano and the amount of modulation going on in the main electronics in the background. If the pianist is playing more mezzo piano instead of forte, there could be a bit more modulation to fill out the stereo image, etc. The time aspect here has to be an estimation as a direct relationship would probably be too close to “mickey-mousing”. The amount of time used to calculate the amplitude could also be changed depending on the sections and for example how quickly the musician is pressing the midi pedal (if one will be used) or by an envelope follower.
Another idea I have been slowly exploring is a delay that has a bandpass series that are pitch dependant. Another idea is to us a type of granular delay which could start playing grains before, and after certain notes to accent them. This process would have to be tightly integrated with the synchronization. A drawing might explain what I mean better:
Both of these will have to be tested more in context of the piece, as I play it myself or perhaps Bahareh to see what fits better. However, I do find that by working on these ideas of how to process the sound and test them out with piano sounds, it helps me have a clearer idea of how I want the piece to actually sound in practice, not only formally.
I have now come up with a few short motives and ideas to be used in the piece, as well as some harmonic evolutions for the form.
I feel a certain paradox in how frustrating it is to write this piece. I feel that I have too little material to truly make something interesting. However, at the same time I feel that I need much more than 8 minutes to explore several of the elements I’d like to explore in the piece.
Time is also being spent studying several piano scores of contemporary composers I respect. A special amount of time has been taken listening to Dusapin’s piano études. His writing is both fresh, yet anchored in tradition and all of these pieces are breath-taking in their own way. Dusapin often has an economy of material that is used in all possible ways, which is one of his strongest compositional aspects in my humble opinion.