The Well Tempered (bit)Klavier
In 2014, pianist and percussionist Adam Sliwinski premiered a new set of pieces for a new instrument: Dan Trueman’s Nostalgic Synchronic etudes for the “bitKlavier.” The bitKlavier is a kind of prepared digital piano, which owes an obvious debt to John Cage’s prepared piano, but which has a digital life all of its own.
In the current age, most of what our machines can do is hidden from us. Instead of the gears and grinding power of our past contraptions, whole worlds of sound are now contained within sleek shiny silver cases.
(Adam performs etude #4, Marbles)
In October of 2015, Adam and pianist Cristina Altamura presented the Nostalgic Synchronic études at LPR in New York City side-by-side with preludes from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier to celebrate the release of the album on New Amsterdam Records. The New York Times was there to cover the event:
“The études, some fast and virtuosic, others spare and introspective, unfolded to beautiful and haunting effect in a haze of pitch-bending, echoes, distorted rhythms and eerie timbres.”
– The New York Times
Starting in 2016, Adam and Cristina will be touring this combined recital as an intimate hourlong performance, curating pieces from Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier alongside Trueman’s new etudes. In it, the old and the new come together in a surprising and delightful dialogue across the centuries.
Like Bach, Trueman is a tireless tinkerer, not only with the ideas and materials of music, but with the instruments themselves (Bach was renowned in his time for fixing and testing pipe organs). Juxtaposing their music reveals that our perceptions of the past, present, and future are not always as fixed as we imagine them to be.
Learn more about the project, the artists, and the work of Dan Trueman below:
- Here is more information about Dan Trueman, a professor of composition at Princeton University, world class fiddler, software programmer, and otherwise exceedingly interesting person.
- Here is Dan’s website about the instrument and the project, which includes an iPad app, a newly commissioned set of “micro etudes,” the album release, and more.
- Below is a video of Dan and Adam showing and explaining the bitKlavier.
Adam Sliwinski has built a dynamic career of creative collaboration as percussionist, pianist, conductor, teacher, and writer. He specializes in bringing composers, performers, and other artists together to create exciting new work.. A member of the ensemble So Percussion (proclaimed as “brilliant” and “consistently impressive” by the New York Times) since 2002, Adam has performed at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall, The Bonnaroo Festival, Disney Concert Hall with the LA Philharmonic, and everything in between.
Pianist Cristina Altamura authentically embraces the European piano tradition while still capturing the spirit of a contemporary, multi-ethnic world. In the past year alone, her activities in New York City have ranged from participation in an epic concert by 24 of New York’s finest new music pianists of book one of J.S. Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier at the Spectrum Performance Space, to a New York Times-reviewed collaboration at (Le) Poisson Rouge with her husband Adam Sliwinski and composer Dan Trueman with his innovative “bitKlavier” instrument, to pioneer B-girl Ana “Rokafella” Garcia’s multi-disciplinary breakdance production “Out of the Bachx” at the New Victory Theater. Her solo recitals are designed with this duality of tradition and innovation always in mind.