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September 5, 2014

I’m going to be performing “Ein Schattenspiel” (Shadowplay) by GF Haas next week in Johannesburg. The concert is part of Unyazi, a biennal South African electronic new music festival. Unyazi is the Zulu word for lightning – what a great name!

My journey with this piece started some time ago, when I optimistically ordered the score online without really knowing it. And then looked for an opportunity to play it – like most performers, I don’t work on something unless there’s a date. (Are there any performers who DON’T work like this?).

But of course the interesting thing about EIn Schattenspiel is the real time sound processing. what I play is picked up, delayed, pitch shifted upwards by 50 cents and then played back. I am playing with myself, and need to read the “other” piano part so as to play in time with it. This is pretty interesting sometimes as I have perfect pitch and the pitch shifts play gentle havoc with my eyes and ears…what I read is not exactly what I hear!
Also the time delay becomes shorter and shorter, so it starts to feel like a real game of catch up – if I play too slowly, I will be overtaken by my “other” self.

And after all of that: it’s an astonishing piece! The “Shadows” created by the repetition and pitch shifting are haunting, and the colours created by the overlap of the piano ands it altered sound are extraordinarily beautiful, and the complex textures as the arpeggio figures pile up on each other to form a wonderful wall of pitches and sonorities towards the end.

What a delight to discover, play and fall in love with it!

I will be performing this on Thursday 11th September at the Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg.


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