Dear Kenneth Goldsmith,
I am a PhD composer based at the University of York specialising in creating music-theatre works. I would like to ask for your permission to use text from http://printingtheinternet.tumblr.com for a new music-theatre piece inspired by your project, called ‘this piece gets more magical every time someone writes ill of it’ with the subtitle ‘lottery for pianist and page turner’.
I have attached a draft score here along with some photos of experiments I did yesterday. The title is taken from a tweet by @ksheely to @internetprint on 14th July. I was instantly struck by the phrase and wanted to recontextualise the text in musical performance.
A pianist fills a grand piano with paper balls, then tries and make them bounce with improvisation. (The inside of a concert grand piano lid will reflect the inside of the piano.) The page turner can pick any paper ball at random, unfold and place it in front of the pianist, who performs whatever is on the page before discarding it and returns to making the balls bounce.
The pages contain either fully notated music, instructions for what sort of music to play (‘Play Bach’, ‘Play a nursery rhyme’), instructions for how to play/physical actions (‘Play with your elbows’, ‘Touch the piano provocatively’), or text to speak. The text I would like to use from your website is a selection of criticisms about your project, and a couple of your responses.
My rationale for the piece is that in musical performance the sudden appearances of such texts as these, and as many musical styles as possible, can be provocative and direct in their disruption and questioning of the concert hall performance context.
I intend to crowd-source notated music of any sort to provide performers with a bank of downloadable, printable pages on my website, james-whittle.co.uk. The pianist will have to sight-read in performance; imperfect renditions of recognisable music/familiar styles are likely. I will contribute to this bank myself, and provide links to online music databases such as imslp.org. Over time, as music is added to the bank by giving anyone the option to compose material for the piece, or arrange other music, or to send in files of older music as per IMSLP’s archives, performances of the piece will become a collectively owned snapshot of musical history and culture.
I am writing this piece for a public performance on Saturday 3rd August 2013 in York. The concert is a 75th birthday celebration concert for composer Frederic Rzewski. It is a late commission, so I need to provide a completed score for the performer soon. I would be very grateful therefore if you would kindly let me know your thoughts regarding the use of material from your website for this piece.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
With thanks and best wishes,
this piece gets more magical
every time someone writes ill of it
lottery for pianist and page turner this piece gets more magical every time someone writes ill of it James Whittle
lottery for pianist and page turner 14-17th July 2013
after Kenneth Goldsmith’s Printing Out the Internet in memory of Aaron Swartz
1. Go to http://www.james-whittle.co.uk/magicaleverytime (URL - TBC)
2. Print any number of the available pages. Print any number of copies of each page.
Print out enough pages so that all the piano strings could feasibly be covered by tightly
scrunched-up paper balls (>40).
3. The piece should be performed on a grand piano with the lid completely raised. The
piano must be perpendicular to the audience, polished and lit to allow a reflection of the
inside of the piano on the inside of the lid.
4. If a short performance duration is desired:
- Before the performance, scrunch up each sheet into a ball tightly. Have all the
balls of paper in a container offstage.
- The pianist sits at the piano and depresses the tre corde pedal. The page turner
brings the container and empties the balls across the strings.
5. If a longer or indeterminate performance duration is desired:
- The pianist sits with all printed pages on the stand and the tre corde pedal
depressed. One by one he scrunches each sheet and throws it onto the piano
Copyright © James Whittle 2013 6. As paper balls are being thrown onto the piano strings, the pianist begins improvising:
- Try to make the paper balls bounce.
- Explore/emphasise the notes most distorted in timbre by the paper balls.
- Explore the changing distribution of paper balls around the piano.
- Vary between a consistent texture and an inconsistent texture.
When improvising, the tre corde pedal should be used sparingly (while paper balls are still
being thrown in, release the pedal for any short improvisations).
7. The page turner can:
- make very slight adjustments to the distribution of paper balls across the strings.
- pick a paper ball from inside the piano, unfold it, and place it in front of the
Very rarely, or not at all, two balls may be picked together.
The page turner may leave any duration in between picking paper balls. The page turner
should improvise these in response to the pianist and the unfolding piece. A new page
may be placed in front of the pianist before the previous one has been completed.
8. The pianist performs (plays/reads) whatever is on the page placed in front of him.
- Music should interrupt instantly whatever is being played. Music should be
sight-read and not prepared.
- Text should be read over the music (includes reading the text over silence.)
When a page is completed the pianist should discard it: throw it off the stand (not back
inside the piano) and continue playing whatever he was before.
If another page is placed in front of him before the current one is completed, the pianist
should jump instantly to the new one. Upon completion of that, discard it and carry on
from where the first page was left off.
Whenever scrunching/throwing, the pianist may simultaneously play with one hand and
scrunch/throw paper with the other. Possible Endings
1. Continue until all paper balls have been picked, unfolded, performed, and
2. Continue until all paper balls have been picked, unfolded, performed, and
discarded. Collect up all paper balls and exit.
3. “Thunderball” (for a short performance)
Six paper balls are picked, unfolded, performed and discarded. On the sixth,
before unfolding it, the page turner shouts “Thunderball” excitedly at the
audience. The pianist performs the sixth page with the highest amount of energy.
4. “Lotto” (for a longer performance)
A predetermined or indeterminate number of paper balls is picked, unfolded,
performed and discarded. The number may either be decided beforehand by
either performer or in performance by the page turner. On the last, before
unfolding it, the page turner shouts “Thunderball” excitedly at the audience. The
pianist performs the last page with the highest amount of energy. Background/Programme Note
This work is inspired by Kenneth Goldsmith’s work Printing Out the Internet, ‘a
crowdsourced project to literally print out the entire internet’, displayed in LABOR,
Mexico City, 26th July to 30th August 2013.
The title of the present work is taken from a Tweet by @ksheely on 14th July 2013
replying to @internetprint, who had quoted one critic’s remark:
“I don’t want my future children to live in a world with no
trees but with the printed-out internet.”
**My thanks to Kenneth Goldsmith and Kent Sheely…**
Any text instructions are bracketed and italicised, e.g. (in a 60s American broadcaster voice)
Any text to read appears in a large font without alteration.
Any instruction for the pianist to play is in bold, e.g. Play a tune.
The page turner should be nondescript throughout the performance; there is no need to
theatricalise movement, rather he should carry out the tasks given to him mindful of the
trajectory of the piece and its effect on the audience (e.g. if they laugh, consider
exploiting the humour).
A playful, satirical and increasingly mad or awkward performance is desired.
Every text should be read with complete conviction.
Every text may be read as dramatically as you like (e.g. use pauses, extremes of register).
If a text reappears either speak it in exactly the same way as before, or intensify the
tone/emotion of the voice. Do the same for every reiteration of a text. Because poetry is
about life, and
this level of waste
speaks only about
death and waste.
Also its fucking
stupid.(in a 60s American broadcaster voice)
FICTION IS THE NEW
NON-FICTION IS THE
NEW FICTION; NONFICTION IS THE NEW
REALISM; THE NEW