Wednesday, September 05, 2012

John Cage Centennial: New Music for Prepared Piano

The John Cage Trust has released a cool prepared piano app for iPhone and iPad, called CagePreparedPiano. It contains samples of a piano prepared using the same exact materials that John Cage used to create his Sonatas & Interludes for Prepared Piano, one of his most famous works. It's been recorded several times, including recently by Adam Tendler, who offers a full performance for free download.

I spent part of John Cage's 100th Birthday today writing and recording two new little prepared piano pieces in homage, using the prepared piano app.

The first Cagean "Sonata" is a single movement in three parts, recorded playing my iPhone.

AD, prepared piano app

The second "Sonata" is a three-movement sonata, preformed using my iPad.

AD, prepared piano app

Truly this app is a remarkable homage to Cage, in that it carries his compositional ideas forward while also teaching the user something more about the man, his music, and one of his major inventions, the prepared piano. It also allows the performer to capture some of Cage's wonderful sense of humor, in that exploring this app was tremendous fun. Also in the spirit of Cage and indeterminacy and constrained improvisational performance, there is a randomizer button that shuffles the samples on your playing surface, creating an entirely new set of sound possibilities each time you randomize.

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