88 Tuned Bongos: Under the Hood

Nov 6, 2015

Concert, Performance


Grand Luxe Hall, Western Front


8:00 p.m.


Under the Hood was a concert exploring the Disklavier, an early 1990s model of piano manufactured by Yamaha that is automated with MIDI capability to interface with computers or other devices to mechanically control the keys and hammers.

The evening opened with a performance by Vicky Chow of Remy Sui’s multimedia piece Foxconn Frequency (no. 2) — for one visibly Chinese performer (2015). Throughout the twenty-minute performance, Chow performed finger exercises on a MIDI keyboard that was connected to a custom electronic device that generated piano drills designed to test a performer’s competency. Developed with Paul Paroczai, the software-driven system required Chow to perfect each exercise before being able to continue. Gradually increasing in difficulty, the drills presented impossible scores that created conditions for Chow to inevitably fail. Her performance on piano was accompanied by projected text by poet and former Foxconn factory worker Xu Lizhi. Following Sui's piece, Chow performed  “This Machine Breathes to the Rhythms of Its Own” (2014)—a twenty-minute composition by Adam Basanta for solo piano, electronics, and two surface transducers. 

The second half of the concert featured a thirty-minute performance by Bent, the experimental music duo of Doug Blackley and Andrew Czink. The performance featured new compositions for piano, electronics, and spectral piano—Blackley’s custom apparatus that augments a traditional acoustic piano with electromagnets to enable pitch to bend, shimmer, and pulse while creating multiple simultaneous timbres.

Presented as part of 88 Tuned Bongos, a series that explored experimental music for piano; in partnership with Coast Jazz & Blues Society, and with support from SOCAN Foundation and the Government of Canada. 

Video documentation of this event is available upon request.

Western Front is a non-profit
artist-run centre in Vancouver.

We acknowledge the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations as traditional owners of the land upon which Western Front stands.