Catharsis

Catharsis is a fixed-media electroacoustic composition that documents the destruction of an upright piano. Recorded, arranged, and composed during May 2014, Catharsis is the summing of ten hours of source material that explores the piano as an acoustic sound source whilst subverting the intended use of the musical instrument. As parts of the instrument are removed the sonic and musical possibilities of the instrument, particularly in terms of pitch, dynamics, and timbre are extended beyond those of the instrument in its intended form.

The recording of Catharsis was itself a series of discoveries whereby aesthetic and practical decision established a dialogue; when one considers the destruction of a piano, immediate considerations are often related to sound that resides within the noise domain. Contrary to this, there was no immediate time constraint on the ‘destruction’ therefore meticulous disassembling was employed to the extent to which practicalities allowed. The aesthetic outcome of this is a variety of sounds that includes noise-based and tonal sounds.

Catharsis has been performed at Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, London UK and Ljudbio på Slottsbiografen, Uppsala SWE.

A stereo version of Catharsis is available here

The compositional structure of the piece seeks to explore the musicality of the piano with traditional harmony subverted, and this contributes to the piece’s primarily aim: to communicate a narrative of cathartic healing through the breaking down of musical and instrumental materials; as physical aspects of the instrument are removed, there are new, and in some cases, greater sonic qualities found.