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Baby Spin To Superman Reverse Variation for MIDI Toy Piano and Electronics

Julia Mihรกly Frankfurt / Singapore 2017

commissioned by Non-Piano / Toy Piano Weekend 2017 premiered by Bernhard Fograscher at resonanzraum Hamburg

Baby Spin to Superman Reverse Variation for




Piano and

Electronics (2017)

The Baby Spin to Superman Reverse Variation is a combination of two common Pole Dance moves: The Baby Spin and the Superman. In terms of a musical equivalent to this, the composition Baby Spin to Superman Reverse Variation for the Shoenhut Digital Butterfly MIDI Toy Piano and electronics explores different conditions of tone colour conflations. Appearing as an ordinary toy piano, the Pink Butterfly initially fulfills the usual auditory expectations the audience might have. But during the further process of structural developments the toy piano sound starts spinning around: Corresponding to principles of electronic sound synthesis, the instrument expands the variety of tone colours, merging into hybrid timbres like for instance the toy piano – harpsichord combination or the harpsichord – 8 bit synthesizer combination. Therefore especially those tone colours are mixed up, that consist of similar sound characteristics, like the rather percussive sound character well known from the toy piano and the harpsichord. In contrast to this, the use of a pure piano sound is a reference to the visual appearance of the instrument, looking like a miniature version of a grand piano, only varying in the colour, pink instead of black. The composition is constructed of pentatonic scales and rhythmical patterns as used in traditional Hungarian music. Those are extended through a quotation of a theme tune from a famous superhero movie. Fragments of tutorial instructions are supervising the pianist while trying to cope with the acrobatic challenge of musical translations of the Baby Spin to Superman Reverse Variation.

Baby Spin to Superman Reverse Variation is a duo between a pianist and a musician controlling the electronics (“electronics player”). Both should be visible on stage in order to underline the chamber musical interaction. So don’t hide the electronics somewhere in the back! The electronics player needs to follow the actions of the pianist carefully to make sure that all crossfades between the different tone colors are done smoothly. The pianist should not feel irritated when the sounds change gradually. Further the pianist should study the samples very well, especially the shorter ones. For example after a fermata it is important to continue playing the toy piano overlapping with the end of a sample. The dynamic range should orientate on that of a usual toy piano. For the beginning of the piece it is important to pretend that the Pink Butterfly is an analog instrument. Therefore the mf should not be louder than a usual instrument would sound like. A close-range monitor used for the Pink Butterfly should be placed under the instrument, hidden under a blanket of molleton. The speech bubbles in the score indicate the cues for the samples that need to be triggered by the electronics player. They include text fragments from the samples.

Technical Rider Instrument / Equipment required: Hardware: 1 Shoenhut Digital Butterfly MIDI Toy Piano (Pink, 37 Keys) 1 Laptop 1 Audio-Interface 1 MIDI Controller (e.g. Akai MIDI Mix) 3 loudspeakers (1 close-range monitor [e.g. Genelec 8020 DPM], 2 PA speakers) Software: Reason 9.5 (+ Refills) Max 7 The MIDI Toy Piano needs to be connected to the Laptop via USB. Switch the instrument on but keep the volume level as low as possible so that no original sound of the internal MIDI sound library can be heard. The piece uses only sounds from a Reason patch (contact the composer for the patch). Those sounds are: Toy Piano (Sampled Shoenhut Toy Piano, Refill Toy Piano) Grand Piano (Sampled Steinway D, Refill Reason Pianos -24) Harpsichord (NN-XT - Harpsichord) Synthesizer 1 (8 Bit sound, Thor – Bubble Bobble) Synthesizer 2 (8 Bit sound, Thor – Computer Love) 7 samples need to be controlled (trigger & volume) with a Max patch (contact the composer for the samples and the patch). To trigger the samples and crossfade the MIDI sounds one can use a MIDI controller like the AKAI MIDI Mix or the KORG nano kontrol. It is possible to run Reason and Max at the same time. The controller remains connected to both programmes. Configuration channel 1 (MIDI sounds from Reason)

goes to speaker 1 (placed under the toy piano)

channel 2 (samples from Max)

goes to PA speasker FOH left

channel 3 (samples from Max)

goes to PA speasker FOH right

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Julia Mihály: Baby Spin To Superman Reverse Variation  

composition for Toy Piano and Electronics

Julia Mihály: Baby Spin To Superman Reverse Variation  

composition for Toy Piano and Electronics