La Seconde Ajoutée (1984-86), for two pianos



The desire to "squeeze" out of a piano intervals smaller than semitones is very typical for the first half of the XX century. The names associated with this trends are the names of Julián Carrillo (San Luis de Potosí - 1875; ciudad México -1965) and Iwan Wyshnegradsky (Leningrad - 1893 ; Paris -1979). Both of them achieved their dreams in Paris: Wyschnegradsky designed in 1930 a piano with three keyboards which could play microtones; in 1958 built the Firma Sauter microtonal pianos following the ideas of Carrillo.

Much simpler proved to use two normal pianos and detune them at will, for example, one of them one semitone lower. In my composition La Seconde Ajoutée I used this procedure. Moreover, I detuned (in both pianos) one of the three strings activated by the hammer one half tone lower. In this way when I play one key of the piano I obtain two pitches, its normal pitch and at the same time a "diminisched" second, a "Seconde Ajoutée". For example if I strike the key c1 two frequencies will sound, 261.62 and 254.17 cps. They will create "beatings" with a frequency of 7.5 cps. Thus, trough activating one key I can produce not only pitches, but also rhythms.

This composition was written between 1984 and 1986, it was comissioned by the Saarländischen Rundfunk. Iit was first performed by Gunilde Cramer and Yukiko Sugawara. To detune two pianos in the required way is not an easy procedure an limits the possibility of performances. I deviced therefore a "software" solution, the pianos are detuned by electronic means. This procedure is easy, ever since the composition has been played often.

I am a frustrated pianist. The list of compositions which I would have enjoy to perform is long. The Scarlatti Sonaten are among them. In a certain way the new compositions are modelled after them. The technique of Frequenz Modulation models much of the harmonic language of this work. The 6 compositions are:

Sul C,
Sarabande I,
Sarabande II,
Salve y
Sul B.

Commission: Saarländischer Rundfunk

First performance: Saarländischer Rundfunk


Tre Medi/Ricordi