The Insane Hollow of P-ART Composing 3

by P-ART


Scroll down to read all chapters of part 3 (#12 -#18), or click on the desired chapter.

12. Spiritual Gesture in Organic Overtones  13. Acoustic versus Digital Music  14. Midi - Composing  15. Meta - Polyphony  16. Breaking Out  17. My spinet a dream  18. New P-ART editions



back to P-ART PARADISE-index

The Insane Hollow of P-ART Composing 3

12. Spiritual Gesture in Organic Scores

In piano compositions like Organic Piano (1987), I elaborated the acoustic overtones and wrote notes and instructions into a standard music score of notes and attributes. However, the chord progression and manipulations of the resonance- body aren't classical at all: This piano music produces deep organic overtones.

Click on the picture to see the full first page of my score "Organic Piano"

In Piano Drumming (1992) you stay right in front of the piano. Moving with the body like a drummer, you attack the keys of the piano with full sensitivity. Drumming Overtones, Ethnical Harmony,
Indian Resonances (< click)(1992) are typical scores that need the full surrounding sound of a grand piano.

I elaborated the tonality of atonal chords in scores like Piano in p'ie'ce (1992). I registered many of these chords in steptime at my MIDIfied acoustic grand piano (see later). This piano music feeds us with upper partial harmonics that color our subconscious perception of timbre. In fact, all of these scores must be performed at an acoustic grand, because they are based on sustaining key patterns that function.

You play the keys like Indian tabla. In Drumming Overtones (< click)(1992) I approached one single note of the lower piano keys as a rich sounding tabla. Ethnical harmony (< click) for Grand Piano only (1992) is a score built upon only two tones in the left hand and two (sometimes 3) notes in the right hand.

In these cases the score is like a map that shows the way. It isn't the visual score of notes that dominates here. As an ethnic performer you are totally involved with the dynamic world of the performance (your keynotes). The pianist needs here full of musicality and intuition to execute the raw notes on the sheet.

Minimal Dance (1992) and Robotical (1992) are basical scores for piano.

It is the spiritual gesture of the pianist that produces the sequence of notes.

My instruction for the performer of Robotical (< click) is : Let play your fingers, sit down NOT AS A ROBOT, you have to be the robot of the music you play.

AMPU for piano (< click)(1992) is a real-time MIDI-composition of large clusters on the black and white keys, due to the real "amputated emotion". The sustained play with the fore-arms feels as if it were amputated.

TOUCH NOT SOUND (< click) for acoustic piano (1992) comes from touched but not heared keys.
The composer-performer doesn't hear anything. He follows only the way of his spiritual gesture. After the performance you are in touch with the wonderful world of surprising piano sounds because however the soft attack of each key is MIDI-listened by the computer. To play this piano music the appropriate way, you need a DISKLAVIER: a grand piano with fast moving keys which reproduce acoustically the recorded MIDI-data of the performer .

back to top


back to P-ART PARADISE-index

The Insane Hollow of P-ART Composing 3

13. Acoustic versus Digital Sound

At a time when the cd-player was becoming esthablished, I wondered if the discard cassetterecorder could get a new musical function. Currently, the cassettedeck records and plays tapemusic. It didn't produce sound on its own till 1989. Without special technical intervention, I discovered the common cassettedeck as a primitive duophonic synthesizer. You can see me playing two digital voices with left and right volume control, in my mind the duophonic Inventionen of J. S. Bach for piano in my DVD - track # 10: Invention for 2 digital voices (excerpt).

With PIECE for synthetic cassette deck (1989) I had already broken the classic barriers of sound convention. Manipulating the INs and OUTs and turning the left and right volume knobs, I found out to produce duophonic melodies with my cassette deck as a real instrument and to use my microphone as a primeval loudspeaker(!). To trigger the oscillator of the tapedeck as a synthesizer I blew the Casio-horn, connected with the phone plug of the cassette deck as an INput.

I brought the natural sound and the synth world close together in projects like Acoustami Digitali di  Parti (Ghent, 1991).
In the original version of this installation of hidden microphones connected with synthesizer sequences, the visitors walk in the place and they are the innocent procreators of bizarre synthetic sounds. Voices, steps and other acoustic signals produce sound samples improper to their own acoustic sounds.

Of course, you interpret classical piano pieces much better at the grand piano than on the digital piano. However, the synthetic music of a synthesizer can wash and clean up our listening of current classical meanstream music. (Read also P-ART JOURNAL #29).
For instance, I invite you - playing in an authentic way at the digital keyboard - to listen cleaned and refreshed to the interior world of Für Elise. Therefore, you might not play the piano sound (patch) on your keyboard. Your fingers trigger different soundsamples (of the SFX sound set) mapped over the whole keyboard range.

Do I prefer the acoustic sound? Do I scout the artificial quality of electronic sound?

My answer is clear:
In the world of synth sounds there are good sounds and there are bad ones. It depends.

The quality and originality of a new synthesizer sound depends on the interaction between
* the musical intention of the patch maker,
* the musical intuition and background of the patcher
* the environment within which this sound has to be functional.

Aesthetically, there are never 'good' sounds which are very good for everybody, or good enough for all music styles.

For instance: some time ago I played and experimented with a rich sounding cello. Having its sound in my subconscious I invented CELLO* , a personal cello patch on my synth ESQ1.
Making a good synthesizer sound is like composing a good piece of music. First of all: time is money! Your approach requires exploring the deep capabilities of your instrument and it reflects most of all your own musicality, your personal horizon, your musical fantasy and intuition.

A good patch also depends on luck.  I don't believe that good sound patches are the mathematical result of curves and dissectional transpiration. Building a new sound, a good sound is usually a simple, raw, not yet finished patch instead of a very polished end-patch.

You 'll find these ideas in my general manual of the ESQ1-synthesizer P ART double Sound Set. (Look at : SCULPTURING SOUNDS IN THE P-ART PARADISE-index).

My digitale wave synthesizer of the first digital synth generation includes the warmth of hybrid (analog/digital) sound compared to the noiseless, superclean digital sound of more contemporary synthesizers. (Look also at P-ART instrumental tools< click)

The sound patch Amazon for ESQ1/SQ80

Ahmet ZAPPA, son of Frank Zappa, claims that he composed about five pieces on each new guitar. For his concerts, many guitars laid on the stage floor because he performed each piece only with that specific guitar which he selected especially for that one composition. For me, programming synth sounds is like composing complete pieces of music.
The sequence is the patch. The patch is the sequence.



My compositions for the play "Voyage to Civita" (Brussels,1988) are new sound realities that I created with one digital wave synthesizer (ESQ1).

My double PART SOUND SET  for the Ensoniq Synthesizer ESQ1 includes various aspects of the art of sculpturing sounds (patches.)

In the same period, I was searching for intuitive MIDI-composing tools to registrate my spontaneous piano compositions.

I would keep combining the tone color and the fascinating overtones of the acoustic piano as a constructive part of my composing, and I would utilize new MIDI- recording facilities to compose in realtime as a performer. The solution was: building a MIDI-scanner under the keyboard of my grand piano on the one hand and a intuitive music notation software on the other.

Before the reviews are published even in American keyboard magazines, I imported from the US the smallest available MIDI-retrofit (GULBRANSEN) which I finally installed on my own under the keys of my piano, because no piano-tuner at that time was able to do this hi-tech job. I was happy that Chick Corea confirmed my experience of the wonderful response of this MIDI-scanner in the acoustic piano to make realistic takes.






My Midi - Scanner for the acoustic piano

Ordering one of the first specimen of the notation software ENCORE (released by Passport, US) at that time for Europe, I was amazed by the words of jazz composer Oscar PETERSON:

"It's a very exhilarating experience to see your composition come to life on the screen ... almost like a birth. I believe that if you 're going to compose music, you should spend your time composing. Using ENCORE,  I don't need to sit down with a piece of manuscript and write out note after note, when I can play it as it comes to me."

In the nineties I have composed a lot of music pieces with these MIDI-tools. Years later, the crossgrade version of ENCORE from Atari to Mac (actually released and updated by the GVox company) gives me the opportunity to optimize and finalize the New P-ART Pianobook (2007). The change of audiorecording by microphone (Revox B77 tapes) into computerrecording by Gulbransen MIDIfied composing was a natural solution in the eighties.
The conditions and environment to capture sound and SILENCE, changed strongly in the middle of the eighties: my child was born 1984 and grew up in our apartment in the center of the city of Louvain. However, my aim always was to continue recording my spontaneous piano scores in the living room.

We left town and we settle the open air country.

back to top


back to P-ART PARADISE-index

The Insane Hollow of P-ART Composing 3

14. Midi-Composing


In the eighties my way of life changed gradually, as did the musical  tools.

First I would like to continue recording my piano compositions in realtime and I would make fine looking scores on computer. I did like to print out some of my piano scores (from the eigthies) that I had elaborated most of all by pencil at the piano. For instance: PUUR (piano), NEW-PIANO-WORLD; IN TIME (tribute to Margaret Leng Tan); FUNDAMENTALS for piano and violoncello; TEMPO (piano); TABLA (piano); SILENCE (piano); BORN AS A FLOWER (piano); WALKING ON THE BERLIN MAUR (piano); DE TENT OP TAFEL (parlando, piano and drum); SONG FOR THE INDIAN RAIN.

" Tabla" original raw score for piano written in pencil

However, I didn't finish the job to put the pencil scores into computer scores because the newest technological progression in music notation has involved me as well: Step-by-step-input of notes, cut and paste, recording in realtime into matrices of tempo changes and measure variations, quantisations of notes, I used these new computer features carefully to realize surprising MIDI- sequences like: Dropping (1992), Telvaria (1992), Quantised Emotion in 128(< click)(1992). Extremity (<click) (1992), Chrotax (1992) and Ekta (1992) cannot be performed on a normal piano because the computerscore extends the 88 keynotes range.

The ingredients of Drumintology for piano and MIDI-drumset (1992) are drumpatterns that I cut and pasted into the drumtrack of the computer score.

Rhapsody in Classic and Blue for digital piano only (1992) is built up by cut and pastes of MIDI-shortcuts from Bach to Boogie. The homogeneity of this score is guaranteed by use of the same voice (electronic piano).

In Supraccorda(< click)(1992) ski-scrapers of notes on one piano are built to Dali-like sculptures of gigantic chords. Due to the hold pedal of the MIDIfied piano (see further) and using the step-by-step modus of the computer notation, I legitimate each building of notes that tells more as ten notes (ten fingers). Then I fixed the acceptable maxi chords onto the computer screen into MIDI-scores.

Citatedo del Piano (1992, 1995) for digital piano is composed of exquisite shortcuts of piano scores that touched me in the paste and could be integrated in a homogeneous score graphically (some excerpts are inserted in upside-down position): Chopin's Prélude op.28 n°4, traditional songs, King Arthur (Rock Wakeman), music for movies, Bach's Bourrée (English Suite), Schönberg's piano piece, etc. This music collage essentially stays a traditional score that everyone can perform. However, this score creates a new composition. Expecting a new entity, you play the electronic piano sound, transposed two octaves higher. If possible, you perform the score with an arpeggio repeat of 16 swing quantized notes (LH) and with a dynamic sustain pedal.

Look at the P-ART CLIPS CABINET (< click) to listen to some excerpts of my scores.

back to top


back to P-ART PARADISE-index

The Insane Hollow of P-ART Composing 3

15. Meta - Polyphony


Meta-Polyphony appears when you use a multitrack MIDI- recording system (audio and/or midi): when you mute  the sound of the first recorded track, you record  the new track of your MIDI-sequencer in realtime within the same authentic "motion", and so on. Then listen all tracks together in a new native audition, and enjoy the new rhythmical and harmonical coincidence between track 2 and the other tracks. Surprisingly, the length of each track in this meta-polyphonic conditions is the same and the full sequence passes your ears like the broadcast mozaic on the television display: It evokes a new interactive reality. The idea of "affected simultaneousness" is comparable with the phenomenon of coincidentical mini windows or static and dynamic images in  a mosaic moviescreen,   like the dancing progression of broadcast programs, jumping through the same window frame of your television. In the case of meta-polyphony, the sound tracks keep their own individuality.

Musicalizing the multitrack composition, a small note-quantisation works wunderful.Look at the P-ART CLIPS CABINET (< click) to enter some excerpts of meta-polyphonic pieces.

Playing each track in the same mood [musical affectology], a new musical reality of coincidences and interferences springs into your lap. Under these conditions, recording multitracks that you didn't perform on the same time, guarantees new surprizing  polyphonic pieces.

New polyphonic including polyrhythmical effects, seems to me an adequate composing tool, due to the new progression of digital tools.

So  I realized Cantilacta (1992). This piece for piano is a MIDI- sequence, performed in real time. It consists of seperated musical shots (phrases) played in the same motion. It's comparable to the image viewer who focusses several cameras in one shot.

It 's the same approach that you find in my videotape production ZAPSK (1993).

I call my short film (5' ) Vidéo Concrète, referring to Pierre SCHAEFFER (P-ART Journal Item #14)  and his musique concrète. However, the original intention of Schaeffer wasn't aesthetically at all. He wouldn't make "music". Schaeffer only intended to research and classify  sounds ("des sons concrèts").

Meta-Polyphony appears in my Opus Musicus (1990) that contests musically the swine-plague and the E.G.- liquidation of innocent porkers. The performance of Opus Musicus is built most of all on live voicing parts like in an opera. The participants are professional opera singers for the backing line and a dedicated group of EG- politicians stay for the musical part. The performers are prepared emotionally for their musical job, by visiting an abattoir of innocent porkers. The easiest performance would be to integrate pre-recorded soundscapes of an abattoir. However, here I refused prepared tapes or sound samples, because I liked to increase dynamical affection of the participants and the audience in realtime.

back to top


back to P-ART PARADISE-index

The Insane Hollow of P-ART Composing 3

16. Breaking Out: P-ART music goes multidisciplinary


Over the years, I became  fascinated more and more by the world of drawing and painting  tone  and scores on the computerscreen , microtuning, algorithmic composing, converting pitch and movement into MIDI-data. As you can see on other pages of my homepage the P-ART PARADISE is still growing up. (Look also at the P-ART PARADISE-index).

I am developing further towards multi-media art: music projects and installations, literary and graphical work, paintings, dance and movement, integration of body and space in the performances ... Look at the  GALLERY-index.

In the P-ART Music Cabinet (< click) I present you with a small selection of my music, clips resulting of my composing and audiovisual art productions.

Making music should't suffer from slow tools or not yet existing features. New concepts and installations in mind, I 'm always losing too much time and energy to find out the right technical solutions. Most of the time, solutions are available embryonally. However, if they are available, they are too expensive. For instance, I'm still looking for polyphonic audio-to-MIDI transferring.


P-ART Concept of the most advanced synthesizer ©1991.

Click on the picture to enlarge.


What a pity that new music technology hasn't developed far enough and that I have to lose time and money. Referring to the complicated operations to make pictures in the pioneer period of photography, I will also make music of full value. For instance: the upper limit of possible hearing is about 20 kHz. However, upper partial harmonics above that frequency ceiling exist in music and other signals that can color our subconscious perception of timbre. Because of these overtones, a digital processor that had an extended frequency range of 24 kHz, might sound more open and shimmering than a processor that topped out at 20 kHz. We do need audio tools (CD - & DVD players, multitrack recorders, CD writers and audio samplers ) which extend the sampling rate to more as 60 kHz. A sampling rate of 100 kHz doesn't seem luxurious at all to let the tinny impression of most digital sounds disappear. Would the DVD-technology of the next decade be a full answer to these aims? (Yes, 2004)

Sometimes I feel - this isn't an accidental motion at all - that I'm born too soon in a transitional period. Pressure and motion controllers aren't far enough to just satisfy my artistic and musical dreams. Perhaps, my music project FISH-ParTy (1991) finally seems more to be executable with new tools like the I-Cube Digitizer system. (= P-ART JOURNAL #8)

Do you want to see more, click on the picture.

I remember one  of my musical dreams (1993) that looked like this one:

 I, the composer, choose the virtual location, the virtual instruments and the virtual public. I choose the virtual members of my music ensemble,  I arrange easely the style markers  and patterns and grooves from contemporary, historical and ethnical music styles. Then I start the virtual musicians while I 'm the real listener.  From time to time I personally participate in the performing or  change the global direction of the piece. All musicians on  the virtual stage do respect my interventions.  And if necessary, I throw a good-for-nothing down from the virtual stage and plug a red haired musician of Venice instead!

back to top

back to INSANE HOLLOW index

back to P-ART PARADISE index

The Insane Hollow of P-ART Composing 3

17. My spinet a dream






Walter Maene, manufacturer

In 2005, Walter MAENE (Belgium) finished building my new white spinet. Words fail me to describe the fascinating timbre of the spinet. This artisanal keyboard is small but it produces greath sound. Rich overtones inspire me everyday to improvise continuously much more than any piano or digital keyboard can evoke. This spinet sounds transparantly and softly, just like the historical instrument (harpsichord, virginal, lute), and also just like ethnical string instruments especially the 'oud' from the Middle East area (Iran). The dynamic limits of my spinet compensated by the wide range of quality overtones are the best condition for my musical creativity. Click and listen to an mp3-excerpt > my spinet (© P-ART).

About sixty years ago, John Cage introduced the prepared (acoustic) piano. Now, I play the prepared spinet, capturing and transmitting the acoustic sound through the sound effects processor KAOSSPAD (Korg). The result is an organic fusion of acoustic and electronic timbres. The mix-patch is a gamelan-like sound with a digital vs acoustic dialogue in the attack and sustain of the sound bathed in a natural resonating environment. Click and listen to > mp3-excerpt of a P-ART prepared spinet composition 2006.(© P-ART)

back to top

back to INSANE HOLLOW index

back to P-ART PARADISE index

The Insane Hollow of P-ART Composing 3

18. New P-ART editions


The non-profit P-ART project "12 Portraits" (2001-2002) is a booklet with CD that I realized in 2001 with the participation of 11 artists of the P-ART web of artists : [Clarence BARLOW] [Carl BERGSTROEM-NIELSEN] [Alvin CURRAN] [Moniek Darge (Logos) [Baudouin OOSTERLYNCK] [Klaus RUNZE] [Sabine SCHAEFER] [Laurie SPIEGEL] [Margaret LENG TAN] [Dominique Vermeesch & Daniel VAN ACKER] [. All music tracks are exclusive excerpts of music and audiovisual compositions created by 12 artists who are engaged in the same wide field of new music and contemporary arts. (see:

Click and listen to Enamela.mp3 for sound objects (P-ART)

In 2004 I released my first DVD video & Booklet "White as Piano" (< click and go).

The 'white' color indicates the integration of the whole spectrum of colors and tools of expression (sound, picture, gesture, word and drama); 'Piano' refers to the dynamic use of the key-board in divergent forms (table, acoustic piano, synth and new prepared piano). Some tracks are based on video and audio compositions from the last twenty years focusing on sound. All tracks are never released compositions.

Sound sources on DVD: audio recordings (soundscapes), grand piano, wooden table, moonbeasts in box, bath-tub, cassettedeck as music instrument. Soundeffectsprocessor (Korg KaossPad) -
DAT-taperecorder (Sony TCD-D7) - Analogue taperecorder (Revox B77). Video sources: Mac G4 iLife4 (iMovie4, iDVD4) , 8 mm Camcorder (Hitachi VM- E10E) - and Mini DV camera (Sony DCR-PC9E).

1. Field 6:55 2. Animali Musicali di Luna 2:19 3. White Walk 2:00 4. Guru 4:02 5. Bathed in Sound 2:01 6. Ritual Face 3:25 7. White Body 4:35 8. Piano in Gesture 9:52 9. Table PARTy in Concert 2:32 10. Invention for 2 digital voices 2:00 11. New Prepared 11:09


White Body


White Walk


Table Party in Concert

 Animali Musicali di Luna


Prepared Piano

Originally, the New P-ART Pianobook (2007) contains a sequence of 17 intuitive pencil sketches which were later on 'translated' into pianoscores. Playing P-ART pianopieces does not depend on the pianistic velocity and bravery (aka Fingerfertigkeit) but involves the flow to create. The authentic performance of P-ART scores will make you enjoy the organic sound sensitivity by touching pianokeys. Re-creating the P-ART pieces also center around the quality of the pianobody. Several pieces in the new P-ART pianobook indeed sound better on the grand piano than on the upright model.
My scores provoke a personalized 'size' of pianoplay. Don't eat notes but stay open-minded for mostly unedited interactions of timbre, overtones and chords. I hope that your native confrontation with custom and unconventional consonancy will be a satisfying effort.
Playing a raga-inspired piece is more based on a way of life than on technique or free improvisation far away from the original score. I see 'Touch The Vibrators' for grand piano rather as a frame to build your 'musical castle' than a new sort of prepared piano 'à la John Cage'. However, the interpretation of P-ART scores is very basic and easy if you are affiliated with the spirit of my pianomusic. Hints and symbols (e.g. pedal control) are elaborated and incorporated in the scores, not to master you, dear pianist, but to facilitate your creative process of mastering the music.

Soundfiles and additional information

to perform the P-ART pianopieces are available:

The release of the Midjay harddiskrecording (since 2004), later the renovation of my pianogrand Rönisch in 2006 and especially the release of the extremely satisfying piano recording system Kawai PR-1 (2007) with easy to use CD-RW recordings (for details: look at the instrumental pages chapter 5), and last but not least the all-in one microphone recorder Zoom H2 (starting in 2007), that all bring me back to my origins: a boost of musical creativity, and instant pianocompositions saved immediately on CD, keeping all dynamic soundreflection and overtones in process. Listen to a recent file: the first mouvement of the PianoCyclus "Finally". (listen >FINALLY1 mp3).

Summer 2009, the result of composing instantly at my Grand Piano (using the KAWAI Piano Recording system PR-1), my collection of selfmade pianomusic is growed up to 34 P-ART CDs, full of instant WAV pianocompositions recorded with the KAWAI-CD-writer. I plan to release these multibox later.

At the moment (summer 2009) the long expected challenges arrived on my desk, by the release of important updates of musicsofts in use since many years, and by other new musictools that I 've ordered recently. The newest update for ENCORE 5 (musicnotationsoftware) contains new opportunities for MIDI-sequencing, sitting at my MIDIfied Grand Piano: it includes - extremely important to me - the new VST Player integrated in ENCORE. That means: with my midified Grand Piano keyboard I cannot only record quality audio files using Zoom H2 and the Kawai PR-1 box. But from now , I can also master synthesizerVST playing on the keys of my Piano Grand. With the GVOXSTPLAYER feature integrated in the new version of ENCORE , I can now play and save my pianoMIDI-compositions recorded step-by -step or in realtime with the newest version of PIANOTEQ AS VST-plug-in, using ENCORE at my MacBook on my Grand Piano I 'm now able to convert and save my piano MIDI-compositions with the best virtual Grand Pianos on board of the french virtual pianosoft PiIANOTEQ. This physical modeling software is not bases on samples, but it generates historical and actual piano instruments, bells, percussion etc. immediately.

Buying The Roxia Titanium PRO, I obtained the most fascinating scoring edition Sonic Fire Pro 5 making music for film and video. I report my alternative use and progression in a few months.

Autobiographic P-ART notes: Update September 2007 and Summer 2009

back to top


back to INSANE HOLLOW index

back to P-ART PARADISE index

P-ART  GUEST BOOK Comments, ideas and additional information are wellcome

P-ART ©1998-1999-2000-2001-2002-2003-2004-2007-2009

 For P-ART SMARTists: Check your P-ART LEVEL (< click)

What's your P-ART level? What's your P-ART score? Have you familiarized enough with the P-ART website? Do you really know the answer to 10 P-ART questions?

P-ART HOT LINKS (< click)



This page belongs to: