Peter V. Swendsen



A sound does not view itself as thought (2011)

for piano and iPad (for Tom Rosenkranz)


Live recording featuring Tom Rosenkranz on 17 February 2012.
Studio recording available, in surround, on Toward the Curve.


Tom Rosenkranz and I had been discussing collaborating on a piece for piano and electronics for a few years when the opportunity finally presented itself in the spring and summer of 2011. Tom was embarking on some travels during which he would have the opportunity to play the piece, but he would only be traveling with an iPad, rather than a laptop. This presented an interesting challenge in terms of retaining the spirit of interactivity we both desired. Tom is a wonderful improviser, and I was determined to find a way to avoid locking him down to a tape part. Taking a cue (and eventually a quote for the title) from Cage and other explorers of indeterminacy, and working within the confines of the iPad, I set about making a set of 73 short (sometimes very short) sound files. These primarily originate from prepared piano recordings, but also include noise, synthesized sound, and silence. Each file has attached to it a score fragment, sometimes graphic, sometimes text, and sometimes staff-notated. These files/fragments, which total about seven minutes, are played back at random (via the iTunes “shuffle” function; the score fragments are “album covers”). Tom, who is familiar with all of the fragments but has no idea in which order they will appear, spends the piece in playful conversation with them, sometimes anticipating what might come next and sometimes responding to the cues provided.

Special thanks to Tom for his enthusiasm and energy in developing this piece.



[studio recording on Toward the Curve; performance materials available upon request]

© 2016 pvs