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To listen to the Étude, you can click this picosong link,

http://picosong.com/cGwk/

or the link below:

Please analyze and critique this work, examining it as an Étude.

Definition: An étude (a French word meaning study), or study, is an instrumental musical composition, most commonly of considerable difficulty, usually designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular technical skill.

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Keith Emerson was able to do some amazing things with a piano, so perhaps this is possible.

Yes, I'd like to know what particular skills this étude emphasizes, and to also see the score.

Thank you for listening; and thank you also for your comments and questions.

I had posted, with the piece, the definition of Étude:

“An étude (a French word meaning study), or study, is an instrumental musical composition, most commonly of considerable difficulty, usually designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular technical skill.”

Reply by Janet Spangenberg yesterday:

“Yes, I'd like to know what particular skills this étude emphasizes, and to also see the score.”

Your question about the skill goes to the nub of the matter. It is an étude, “a study,” and yes, something is being “studied.” The definition does say, such a piece is “USUALLY” designed to perfect a particular skill. I don’t wish to avoid the question, but if there is any particular “skill” being exhibited here, it is not a performance skill or specific technique, such as the ability to play a certain kind of arpeggio while standing on your head. Nevertheless, something is definitely being studied. A number of things, more than one, as your question implies. Before I say exactly what, let me address the posed by Bob, who mentions one of them, perhaps the most striking one.

Bob Porter said, “Before I listen to this again, tell me which skill is the performer practicing? Pitch bending on a 9 foot grand would indeed be of considerable difficulty.”

This “skill” of “pitch bending” is important for the piece (though it’s not one of the central skills that I think Janet’s question is designed to elicit). Still, I want first to address this issue, of pitch-bending on the piano, which I think will become more important for composers as time goes on. Pitch bends (tone glides, glissandi) ON VIRTUALLY ALL INSTRUMENTS, are now a standard technique available to all those who write music, even on the piano. (They have been in Japanese, Chinese, Indian and most Eastern traditions, from time immemorial).

It is no longer true that “Pitch bending on a 9 foot grand would indeed be of considerable difficulty.”

Or I should say, pitch bending on certain types of concert pianos is no longer so difficult. In a previous thread, I mentioned that East Indian performers have perfected, and played in concert, a kind of large piano, which differs from the standard concert piano in one important way: It has an insert that allows the performer to bend notes, much in the same way that an Indian sitar performer does. Such tone bending could conceivably be done on a 9 foot grand as easily as on a smaller piano. On the new Indian piano, particular notes can be made to glide, or entire groups of notes (even sound masses, á la Xenakis) simultaneously. (I saw the Indian musician explain and demonstrate this kind of piano on an Arts Television program, but I cannot seem to find an article in a newspaper online that speaks of this particular artist and her work. Unfortunately I only know she working in London, with other Indian performers. I do not know her name.)

People in the fields of modern composing and performing are continuously looking for new techniques and new sounds that can be produced by traditional instruments. Some musicologists have said, Bartok nearly exhausted the number and type of new sounds that could be produced on string instruments, by the time he completed his celebrated six quartets.

Many of us have computer software that does allow us to simulate quite faithfully the “sound of a piano,” and to simulate pitch bends, through various methods. The tone glide, the glissando, the use of portamento are all available for nearly every instrument, including for every kind of keyboard instrument (organ, harpsichord or piano). I suspect many people know how to make the computer simulate piano glissandi already, though I do not hear many people doing it. If anyone wants some of the details explained, I will be happy to say something about how it is done using “Logic.” (There are multiple methods. Even “Garageband” has a way to create pitch bends, tone glides (glissandi) and adjust portamento settings on the piano playback. In some cases, it may be best to create pitch bends on a simpler program, like “Garageband,” and then open the files using more advanced software, such as logic. That way you have more control).

Looking at the larger picture: If there is a “skill” being tested by this Étude, however, it has less to do with pitch bends than it does with the composer’s “skill” to compose a piece for piano that incorporates multiple tunings into a single performance, in a single instrument. I will say more about that later, if anyone is interested. It’s a more complicated topic, and would take more space.

Another “skill” is the composer’s ability to mediate a compromise between “random elements” that may appear (or be made to appear) in a piece—and deliberate choices, with regard to content, in the areas of melody, harmony, note duration, rhythm and tempo. Each of these may deserve separate treatment and discussion.

On the question of a “score,” I will see what I can do, and post that fairly soon. (Unfortunately, Logic cannot generate a score that faithfully represents a piece of music that has subtle instructions given to the tracks, in the all the areas mentioned above. But I can give you a “raw score.”)

Roger said, in the picosong comments section. “I will call this style 'upscale-offscale' jazz.”

I think that’s a fascinating characterization. I had not thought of it as “jazz,” but perhaps there is a jazz element here.

Perhaps you could instead generate a score that somewhat faithfully represents the instructions given to the performer. To make the task easier, let's assume the performer can speak decent English, ignoring the problem of whether he's Indian or not.

Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:

Unfortunately, Logic cannot generate a score that faithfully represents a piece of music that has subtle instructions given to the tracks, in the all the areas mentioned above.

After reading your answer, I believe this piece has failed as an étude.


Ondib Olmnilnlolm said:

Looking at the larger picture: If there is a “skill” being tested by this Étude, however, it has less to do with pitch bends than it does with the composer’s “skill” to compose a piece for piano that incorporates multiple tunings into a single performance, in a single instrument. I will say more about that later, if anyone is interested. It’s a more complicated topic, and would take more space.

Another “skill” is the composer’s ability to mediate a compromise between “random elements” that may appear (or be made to appear) in a piece—and deliberate choices, with regard to content, in the areas of melody, harmony, note duration, rhythm and tempo. Each of these may deserve separate treatment and discussion.

Reply to Bob Porter.

Yes, the piece is written for a piano that can play pitch bends. Most keyboards you attach to a computer do that now anyway, don't they?

In the case of this etude, it is only the skill of the composer that is being tested. So maybe as Janet says, this cannot possibly succeed as an etude, at least not in a very strict dictionary sense.

Janet has convinced me.

So now I am rewriting the whole thing, and making it into something else. An impromptu, perhaps? A prelude? If it's not an etude, it can be written for more than one instrument.

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