Sounds and the Piano

Keenan Reimer-Watts

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Sounds and the Piano (2016) is an exploration into the connections between sound and music. John Cage was the first to popularize this idea, going so far as to write a piece in which no one plays, for 4'33", titled 4'33", so as to bring focus to the ambient sound quality of a space. He has even claimed that he would rather listen to traffic than music.

This album explores that idea, but instead of taking sounds on their own, I have paired them with music (piano improvisations). It is my belief that sound has an inherent emotional quality, and when one pairs music with sound, it brings out a different emotional quality in the sound. I think this is something used in film very effectively, but I have never heard it done in extreme detail, that is, with the music to sound coinciding very specifically. So it is my hope that when people listen to this, they may take something from what they hear here, and take it into their lives, and maybe they will listen with different ears to the sounds of traffic, tree leaves, squirrels, or coffee being made.

The album is split into three parts:

The first part, Thoughtful Music - in this the pianist walks to and from a recording device, turning it on and off at the beginning and end of each track. Electronics are added in, creating little scenes that are built off of the improvisations. It's quite cinematic, but I think pretty effective. My favorite is the 5th track, in which the tone in the voices is brought out by the dry, sarcastic piano part.

The second part, Homages, is dedicated to artists who inspired the way I think about art. All of these people are worth getting to know, in my opinion! This is a much lonelier set of improvisations, in which the recording device was put directly in the piano, getting a sound very close to the ears. Each piece in this set based on art from the person it is dedicated to.

The third part, Still Improvisations, was done on a beautiful Steinway piano, compliments of a good friend and piano teacher in Ottawa, Robert Dvorkin. The outer two, no.'s 1 and 3, are songs, while the middle is something of a meditation. The first using a clip of Dmitri Hvorostovsky singing the Russian folk song titled 'Farewell Happiness'. The third uses clips from Japanese folk songs - Sakura, Sakura and Takeda sung by Akire Ferris, who can be found on youtube.

The album cover is by yours truly. Special thanks goes to my dollarama pencil crayons.

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  1. 1 Thoughtful Music - no. 1 (free) 02:33 Free
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  2. 2 Thoughtful Music - no. 2 02:32
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  3. 3 Thoughtful Music - no. 3 02:03
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  4. 4 Thoughtful Music - no. 4 02:47
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  5. 5 Thoughtful Music - no. 5 03:18
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  6. 6 Thoughful Music - no. 6 03:47
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  7. 7 Thoughful Music - no. 7 02:32
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  8. 8 Thoughtful Music - no. 8 03:09
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  9. 9 Homages - no. 1, to Barbara Feldman 06:19
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  10. 10 Homages - no. 2, to Al Purdy 05:22
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  11. 11 Homages - no. 3, to Virginia Woolf 05:50
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  12. 12 Still Improvisations - no. 1 02:57
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  13. 13 Still Improvisations - no. 2 03:07
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  14. 14 Still Improvisations - no. 3 03:47
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