NRM 26: Taka Kigawa Performing Cage

 Thursday June 7, 2012 at 8:00 pm

International performing artist and Greenwich House Music School faculty member Taka Kigawa performs selected etudes from John Cage's monumental Etudes Australes, as well as works from other composers (to be announced). 

The following excerpts are from Wikipedia:

Etudes Australes comprise 32 etudes grouped in 4 books of 8 etudes each. The pieces are arranged in order of complexity of the materials—single tones and aggregates—involved, from simple (etude 1, single tones) to complex (etude 32, potentially half single tones, other half aggregates). The music is written on four staves: the upper two for the right hand, the lower two for the left. The hands are forbidden to assist each other. There are no barlines, and no traditional note values. Just two types of notes are used, closed and open circles. An open note is to be held as long as possible beyond the succeeding closed note (if there are many closed notes, a pedal-like notation indicates where the open note may be released). Aggregates appear as notes written with a stem: while an ordinary closed or open note's position in time is indicated by the center of the note head, the position in time of an aggregate is indicated by the stem. In later etudes certain passages are too dense to be included on the page; such passages are indicated by a beam with stems (referring to the rhythm of the passage) and a capital letter which refers to the Appendix. Each etude includes several keys that are to be depressed prior to playing, and held down using a rubber wedge.

The pieces are notoriously difficult to play. The performer has to learn a specific technique to play "duets for two independent hands" (which even involves a particular sitting position); also, because both hands' ranges cover almost the entire keyboard, the hands are continually crossing. There are no tempi specified, no dynamics and no pedal indications; all of these are left to the performer to decide on. To facilitate matters somewhat, every etude occupies exactly two pages of the score, so there is no need to turn the page.


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