The Toll Marilyn Lerner

The source material for this piece comes from my improvisations on the acoustic piano. They were recorded earlier this year by Steeve Lebrasseur during a residency at Avatar in Quebec City. We achieved substantial variation in sound quality by experimenting with different microphones and mike placements. The resulting audio piece which was later spatialized with the Richmond Audio box by myself and Darren Copeland.

I have a long and complex relationship with the piano, having played it since the age of 7. At times I have been extremely frustrated by this large elephant, this bourgeois parlour instrument. I have often felt its limitations in terms of expression. Over the past ten years I have been active in the improvised music scene, and this frustration has been remedied to some extent by experimentation with extended technique. I am particularly interested in the strings, in their harmonic overtones and the sound that is generated when they are plucked or struck at different parts of the instrument.

Concurrent with my career as a performer, I have been creating audio art pieces over the last five years. The idea for this project was to portray the piano in different way, to liberate it and to re-present it, to take it apart and to disguise it. I wanted to make it sing, shout cry, pulsate and to create a soundscape that is at once familiar and foreign.

The title reflects the mood I was in through the creation of this piece which was one of sadness about the events of the past year.
There was an element of mournfulness in some of the sounds I chose and also a call to awareness that I tried to imply with the sound of bells tolling.

  • Year of composition: 2002
  • Duration of the submitted work: 12:46