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New Fordist Piano Quantization

Author: David Pocknee

New Fordist Piano Quantization is a live performance by a MIDI piano player and laptop player, in which the performance by the pianist is manipulated through the forcing of it into metrical grids, which are then used by the computer to transcribe the performance into conventional musical notation. Quantization is the process of placing continuous data into discrete grids. Although temporal quantization already occurs in programs such as Sibelius, Finale, Cubase and Logic, this is the first system in which the act of quantization becomes performable, rather than something which is arbitrarily imposed onto the information after the fact. Through using a MIDI controller, the laptop performer is able to react to the playing style and content of the pianist, creating a dynamic improvisatory relationship in which the gridding of the information leaves its mark upon the music itself. This process of live quantization is set up so that both performers only hear the music post-grid, i.e. exactly as it will be notated. This leads to a different style of playing in which notation and performance become more clearly aligned. The laptop performer also has a variety of grids to choose from and can work both with the pianist (by imposing complex notational grids when moments of complexity occur) or against them (setting up a moment of tension by imposing an extremely slow grid over fast pianism).