Interweaving the voice of the Queen (Anna is a London-born New Yorker) giving life coach instructions to us with sounds of airports and undersea travel, the piece explores the tension between the clockwork of our daily world and the expressive world of music. It is also a stunning virtuoso vehicle.

NICK DIDKOVSKY: Zero Waste [2002] >>>

"Zero Waste" is a duo for pianist and computer, which challenges the live performer to both create and sight-read a new piece on the spot.  To start the piece, the computer displays two measures of software-generated music in common music notation. Once the pianist begins playing, the software begins to transcribe the performance into the score. The performer in turn, "sight reads" this score as it unfolds in real-time, which in turn is transcribed and creates new material to be sight read.

As the performer continues to sight read and play, the computer continues to listen and notate, creating an interactive synergy where performance errors and expressive deviations lead to new musical worlds. Over time the challenge of sight reading and the limits of music notation evolve the piece into something very different than how it began.

"One of my students compared it to the game of 'telephone', while someone else said it brought to mind Alvin Lucier's "I Am Sitting in a Room", where the emphasis is on the resonances in a system rather than the source material itself. Each performance of Zero Waste is unique: each starts with a new two-measure computer-generated "seed" of music, and sight-reading will be rich with variation. "

Zero Waste was composed and programmed by Nick Didkovsky in Java Music Specification Language (JMSL).


Obviously, digits are what we use both to play the piano and to operate computers.  This piece makes some fairly extreme demands on both types of digits.  The piano part, written for Kathleen Supové, exploits her incredible technique to play a bit more than is humanly possible.  

The computer, which plays only sounds which originate from the piano, integrates with the live playing in a way which is seamless and, hopefully, a bit magical.

Digits is a composition for solo piano and digital processing. The pianist must bring virtuoso technique to the performance, and the processing is designed to amplify the piano's sound in ways that are both subtle and arresting.   

All the processed sound comes from the piano. There can also be a video component of the piece. Designed by R. Luke DuBois, using Jitter, the video track processes live images of the pianist's fingers (her digits) as she performs the piece, and projects them on a screen inside or above the piano lid.

The overall effect of the piece is of a classical, virtuoso piano sonata, in which the piano itself has been bent slightly out of shape,amplified, and multiplied, and the images of the player's fingers are brought directly to the audience and manipulated to complement the music.
Neil Rolnick

JACOB TER VELDHUIS (Jacob TV) [2002-2004]: The Body of Your Dreams >>>

"The Body of Your Dreams", for piano and boombox (soundtrack) was commissioned by Deutschlandfunk and composed December 2002, revised in 2004.

It is based on spoken word samples from an American television commercial about the Ab Tronic Pro: a kind of belt that produces 3000 muscle contractions in just ten minutes. Pitch and rhythm of each and every piano tone is determined by one-liners from the commercial. The composition is a kind of work out for the pianist too, who has to be in good shape....(adapted from Jacob ter Veldhuis's note in the score).

Some quotes from the soundtrack: It's one of the easiest ways ever to get your body in the shape you want it.....You can use it while watching television, doing the dishes, mowing the decide....etc.