“These books should be a part of every pianist’s library”
— Frederic Chiu
— International Piano Magazine, July 2018
— Richie Beirach
Why this book?
The XX century was a time of great transformation. From politics, to science, to technology, to the many aspects of cultural life, this period was marked by an unprecedented level of unrest, generating a flurry of activity that left a mark in every aspect of living for generations to follow. In the West, the music world was not exempt from the far reaching implications of these great many changes, and immediately it began to witness their effect; for instance in the general movement away from tonal to non-tonal music.
Think of how the work of composers such as Debussy, Bartok, then Schoenberg, Webern, and more recently Messiaen, Ligeti, or Cecil Taylor's contribution to modern jazz, has stretched the boundaries of what is "acceptable", and how it has also changed our auditory, cultural, and imaginative landscape. Indeed their contribution has been such that every student of Western music across frontiers is bound to be challenged by their work sooner or later. But this leap into the world of non-tonal music is often made without some sense of awareness of the language at hand. And while it can be relatively difficult to assimilate the vocabulary, the grammar, and the syntax of modern music, it is also easy to see that the steps taken to address the issue have not matched the effort behind the profusion of support material available for pre-modern literature; particularly the technical literature.
Various methods of technical nature have come to support tonal idioms in a variety of ways, and they contribute in creating a net of connections where the physical aspect of piano playing extends to, and penetrates, its cognitive dimension. Where the hand shaped around a major triad (a simple example) carries within, by virtue of its repetitive association with a series of potential connections, the function of that chord in the context in which it is played. But what if our harmonic terrain wasn't just populated by major or minor chords? What if a pianist wished to better support a technique around non-tonal idioms? And how are we to give shape to a methodology of non-tonal technique?
This book is the answer to these questions.
“A mighty work”
— Massimiliano Damerini