Seth Horvitz – Eight Studies For Automatic Piano

Seth Horvitz

CD – Line
Inspired by the work of James Tenney, Gyögy Ligeti, Charlemagne Palestine, and Conlon Nancarrow, these eight studies for piano by Seth Horvitz use some simple computer-assisted composition processes. The purpose here is testing the limits of the human perception and the accuracy of the machine, even if the technical means to explore the concepts surrounding time distortion are minimal in the final iterative process, grafted on an elegant but ultimately essential complexity. Consistent with the concept of “automatic plan” the execution was presented as a concert without the presence of any human “actor” to focus precisely on the relationship between the audience, the iterative process and the idiosyncratic behavior of the machine. Horvitz, who studied Cognitive Science at the University of Berkeley in California, chose a Yamaha Disklavier C7 piano, a perfect instrument for this type of performance – known for its servo control that ensures excellent reproduction and for the huge internal storage capacity of the tracks. The notion of the traditional performance is here questioned, playing with the idea that in Eeinny contemporary live electronic performances and dDj sets the meaning of “automation” can vary. Sometimes it is “conceptualized”, while sometimes it is difficult to assimilate even for experts (there are some people who become indignant about the use of “synth” in a dDj-se, but for whom the same function is not bad if used in an editing program. Automation also does not seem to raise any dispute in the experimental audio and video scenes).