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A Summary of Musical Selections

All files are RealAudio 3.0 28.8

Click here for audio "Trio for clarinet, bassoon, and piano"
Ensemble Modern, RCA Red Seal 09026-61180-2

Written in 1942, Nancarrow's "Trio" is a short, playful piece. Originally believed to be a one-movement work, the discovery of manuscripts for two other movements in 1990 place it as the first movement of a three-movement composition. It sounds much more conventional than the "Pieces for Player Piano" largely because it's written for a standard chamber ensemble.

Click here for audio "Study for Player Piano 3b"
Studies for Player Piano Vol. 1, Wergo WER 60168-2

The Study 3b is from the five-part Boogie Woogie Suite which was Nancarrow's first completed set of player piano pieces. The piece is obviously inspired by the blues. The steady, repeated blues ostinato walks along unchanged throughout the piece with the other melody lines creating a sort of ebb and flow above it. These other melody lines are made up of blues riffs and other fragments, and just when you think it's on the edge of collapse, the music gels as the lines converge at key moments.

Click here for audio "Study for Player Piano 49c"
Studies for Player Piano Vol. 5 Wergo WER 60165-50

Study 49c has a funky feel to it and is more aerobic than Study 3b. Punctuated by wild runs up and down the keyboard, the musical material that is presented early in the piece reappears throughout at different speeds and pitches.

Click here for audio "Diane"
Earl Hines in New Orleans, Chiaroscuro CR(D) 200

Earl Hines plays "Diane" recorded in New Orleans in 1977. As Nancarrow did in Study 3b, Hines lays out a melody and then takes you far afield. And just when you think it has been pulled completely apart, the melody smoothly reappears to finish off a phrase. Hines inserts rows of parallel chords and often breaks up melody lines with runs and ornamentation as Nancarrow did.

Click here for audio "In a Sentimental Mood"
Private Sessions October 1952, New York, Jazz Anthology 550052

Here Art Tatum plays Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" recorded in 1952. Tatum seems to take each phrase in a new direction. Melodic refrains become opportunities to show you another way the tune can be interpreted. This bluesy sound shows up in several of Nancarrow's "Studies for Player Piano." In this piece Tatum uses many keyboard runs to change keys and punctuate the work.

Back to Otherworldly Compositions for Player Piano