Conlon Nancarrow

Conlon Nancarrow (c.1946)
(unattributed photograph)


‘Tango?’
Conlon Nancarrow (1983)
Performed and recorded on the Ampico Bösendorfer Grand in the possession of Juergen Hocker, which was restored under the supervision of Nancarrow

‘Tango?’
Conlon Nancarrow (1983)
Performed by Cheryl Seltzer in the late 1980s

‘Piece for Ligeti’
Performed and recorded on the Ampico Bösendorfer Grand in the possession of Juergen Hocker, which was restored under the supervision of Nancarrow

‘String Quartet No. 3’
Conlon Nancarrow (Arditti Quartet) [Part One]

‘String Quartet No. 3’
Conlon Nancarrow (Arditti Quartet) [Part Two]

‘A Sense of Place’ (January 1994)
Documentary about Nancarrow by Helen Borten.

Reynolds: Varese said something like that in response to the comment that his motivic and harmonic construction was static. He made an analogy to spatial relationships, that he took a single sound object and turned it around, looked at it metaphorically from different sides. When he used the sirens in Ionization, though, no matter how he insisted it was an abstract sound, it became concrete.

Nancarrow: My use of canon has an analagous motivation. I was interested, the other day, when you discussed the use of sounds in music, and their freedom from representational concepts. I always felt that the sirens were problematic. Of course, this was one of the traps of early (and some later) electronic music. A fart is a fart.

(Reynolds, 1984, 5)

‘Study No. 49c’ (excerpt)
Conlon Nancarrow

‘Study for Player Piano No. 37’
Conlon Nancarrow
Performed and recorded on the Ampico Bösendorfer Grand in the possession of Juergen Hocker, which was restored under the supervision of Nancarrow.

Nancarrow: There were no models. I started out more or less feeling my way. The first fifteen or twenty studies were just feeling my way. Also, another thing I had to do was feel my way whilst learning what those player pianos could do: how fast they could repeat a note and how many notes they could hold down at one time. A hundred different things, which took some time to get used to, also. Originally I started out thinking just of polyrhythms with a more or less fixed tempo within that. It was much later that the idea of polytempo started to develop. One thing led to another.

(Duckworth, 1995, 46)

Further resources
An interview with Nancarrow by Bruce Duffie in 1987 – here
Excellent research on Nancarrow in both English and German compiled by Jurgen Hocker – here
Thorough resources about Nancarrow by his assistant Carlos Sandoval – here
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This entry was posted in Automation, Composers, Compositional Techniques, Instruments and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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