Repetitive Music for Piano, I-V

Minimal Piano WORKS

‘Repetitive music I’
Jeroen van Veen, pianosolo

November (1959)
Dennis Johnson
approx. 120’00

Dennis Johnson: November
Dennis Johnson’s November for piano (1959) was a major and terrifically innovative work at the very beginning of the minimalist movement. Performed and partially recorded in 1962, and reputedly six hours long, it has been almost forgotten, though occasionally mentioned without detail in studies of early minimalist music. It is a powerful example of the “long tones” style pioneered by Johnson, Terry Jennings, and La Monte Young at UCLA in the late 1950s.
The present score is intended to make performance of
November once again possible. The first 23 pages of the score are a transcription, in proportional notation, of the surviving 112-minute recording, dated 1962. The last 6 pages list all of the motifs from Johnson’s own manuscript score of the piece, which is intended as a guide for improvisation. The motifs are numbered and lettered in Johnson’s score (IIIa, 7b – inconsistencies have been preserved), and here have been correlated to where they occur in the transcription. Some motifs specify other motifs which they could/should precede (“:Vc”) or follow (“1b:”). A performance could begin by duplicating the transcription (whose abrupt close admittedly comes with temptingly valedictory finality), and then using the relation of the ms. score to the transcription to recreate an improvisation involving other motifs in the score. Alternatively, one could study the methods in which the motifs in the score are used, linked, and repeated in the transcription, and then rely upon the score alone for a fully improvised performance as originally intended.
Discrepancies between the score and tape recording are numerous. At Johnson’s advice, they have been resolved in favor of the recording wherever the aural content was unambiguous. Certain chords on the recording clearly do not contain the same notes as their counterparts in the score. In cases where the exact content of chords was difficult to discern, the score has been used as presumably indicating the correct notes. Since there is material in the recording not included in the score (and thus perhaps material in the unrecorded four hours that is similarly undocumented), it is possible that some motifs are lost, perhaps making a six-hour realization unfeasible.
November predates all other known minimalist works in its use of additive process and diatonic tonality. In addition to its inherent artistic virtues, it has been cited by La Monte Young as having inspired him to write his masterpiece The Well-Tuned Piano. November is a beautiful, well-argued work, and adds an important link to our understanding of how minimalist music began.
Kyle Gann 2009

‘Repetitive music II’
Jeroen van Veen, pianosolo

Book of Sounds, complete
Hans Otte

‘Repetitive music III’
Jeroen van Veen, pianosolo

Minimal Preludes
Jeroen van Veen

‘Repetitive music IV’
Jeroen van Veen, pianosolo

An Hour for Piano (1971)

Tom Johnson
approx. 60’00

An Hour for Piano was written in 1971. The piece began as a series of short, improvisatory sketches in 1967 when Johnson was accompanying a modern dance class at New York University. Johnson gradually expanded these sketches and added transitions between them, writing a piece that is to be played in exactly one hour. Achieving this goal requires an absolutely steady tempo for the duration of the piece, which Johnson has set at quarter note = 59.225 beats per minute. The only recording that is exactly sixty minutes long was recently released by the Irritable Hedgehog label and performed by R. Andrew Lee.
An Hour for Piano is deceptively simple, with six basic textures that come and go at the composer's whim. There is no order to these textures, and the transitions between them blur significantly the boundaries between them. Kyle Gann writes, "It never deviates from the key of G, though some dissonant motives wash through from time to time. The pedal is held constantly, and 99 percent of the notes are in or just above the treble clef." The effect is one where the past and present become irrelevant and the listener experiences an almost eternal present.
In 1974, Johnson also wrote program notes to accompany the piece. These notes are meant to be read while listening to the work, and they encourage the listener to "not to allow the program notes to distract you from concentrating on the music. They are intended to increase your ability to concentrate on the piece, and not to distract from it."
These lengthy notes mirror the composition in certain ways, with sentences and entire paragraphs that return frequently and with subtle alterations to the text. The effect is similar to Johnson's landmark article, "What is Minimalism Really About?"
While An Hour for Piano has not enjoyed the same level of recognition that other standard minimalist compositions have, it still "represents many of minimalism's best qualities while avoiding many of its pitfalls. It is an understated watershed of a composition - simple enough to understand on first hearing, complex enough to never fully comprehend, and important enough to usher in a new mode of composition."."

‘Repetitive music V’
Jeroen van Veen, pianosolo

Für Alina

Arvo Pärt

China Gates
John Adams

Toccata Americana
Klaas de Vries

Postnuclear Winterscenario
Jacob ter Veldhuis

The body of yours Dreams
Jacob ter Veldhuis

Book of Sounds, Part II

Hans Otte

Soloduivelsdans IV
Simeon ten Holt

‘Repetitive music VI’
Piano Duo Sandra & Jeroen van Veen

4 Canons from Portrait

J. Andriessen

Music for Two Pianos
Steve Reich

Canto Ostinato for two pianos

Simeon ten Holt