Ghosts in the Machine
~ the Player-Piano ~

Conference Schedule

[updated 4/28/17]

Lincoln Hall B20

3:30pm: Opening Remarks
Roger Moseley and Sergio Ospina-Romero

3:45-5:45pm: Panel 1
Player-Pianos and Piano Rolls: Arrangements, Engagements, and Re-engagements

Jordan Musser (Cornell University), Chair

Paul Johnson (independent scholar), The Art of the the Popular Piano Roll Arrangement
Whitney Slaten (Columbia University), Voicing Artis, Pianolizing Gershwin: Piano Rolls in the Post-Digital and Post-Industrial Era
Matthew Mendez (Yale University), "A baroque thing for anyone to have constructed" ... the Player Piano Installations of Peter Ablinger

Kumaran Arul (Stanford University), The Player-Piano Project at Stanford University

6:00-6:30pm: Opening Performance

- for found player piano, contact microphones, transducers, piano and two performers
by Sergio Cote (Cornell University)
with Ryan MacEvoy McCullough (Cornell University), piano

What makes us think that an instrument is damaged? Trapiche is the first in a cycle of two pieces that uses the mechanism of a damaged player piano as creative motivation, raw material, and (music) instrument. In this piece, the mechanism of the player piano is not used to reproduce music from paper piano rolls. Instead, it is treated as a mechanism that moves, that generates sounds, and that influences the performers who interact with it in a multiplicity of levels. - Sergio Cote

Barnes Hall Auditorium
8:00 pm

~ Live Pianola Sounds ~
Rex Lawson, The Pianola Institute

Scherzo in Bb minor - Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
Shepherd’s Hey - arranged for the pianola by the composer, Percy Grainger (1882-1961)
Sonata in D for Two Pianos, K. 448: first movement - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
~ with Shin Hwang
Firebird: Kastchei’s Dance - Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 49: first movement - Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
~ with Alexa Schmitz (violin) and Elizabeth Lyon (cello)
Study for Player-Piano No. 21: Canon X - Colin Nancarrow (1912-1997)
Duettino Concertante - W. A. Mozart/arr. Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924)
~ with Roger Moseley
Study for Player-Piano No. 6 - Nancarrow
Tarantella from Second Suite for Two Pianos, Op. 17 - Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
~ with Miri Yampolsky

- Intermission -

Prelude in Eb, Op 23, No. 6 - Rachmaninoff
Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) - Stravinsky

Link to PROGRAM NOTES here.

FRIDAY, May 5th
Lincoln Hall B20

9:00-10:45am: Panel 2
Histories and Legacies of Mechanical Instruments

Alejandro L. Madrid (Cornell University), Chair

Bob Berkman (independent scholar), The Player Piano: A Neglected Resource in American Studies and Ethnomusicology
Rex Lawson, The Player-Piano and the Wild West Saloon: Shooting Some Bullet Points Through the World of Music Rolls
Denis Hall (The Pianola Institute), Did they really play like that? - An Appraisal of the Reproducing Piano

[10:45-11:00am Coffee break]

11:00am-12:45pm: Panel 3
Arenas of Internationalization and Synchronization

Mackenzie Pierce (Cornell University), Chair

Sergio Ospina-Romero (Cornell University), Ghosts in the Machine and other tales ... Player-Pianos in Latin America, 1912-1915
Peter Graff (Case Western Reserve University), Alice Smythe Jay’s “Inspiration Music Rolls”: An Early Experiment in Film-Music Synchronization
Gail Holst-Warhaft (Cornell University), Upstairs the Laterna Schrieked

[12:45-2:00pm Lunch break]

2:00-3:30pm: Panel 4
Piano Rolls as Phonographic Media: Storage, Labor, and Performance Practice

Malcolm Bilson (Cornell University), Chair

Allison Wente (SUNY Fredonia), Rachmaninoff Plays Rachmaninoff... Plays Rachmaninoff? ... his C♯ Minor Prelude on Roll and Record
Akiko Washino (Fukuoka Prefectural University), A performance analysis utilizing the piano-rolls of Chopin’s Opus 42
Malcolm Bilson, Discussant

A.D.White House

4:00-5:00pm: Roundtable 1
MIDI-ations and Other Creative Ventures with the Player-Piano

Sergio Cote (Cornell University), Paul Manganaro (Antique Mechanical Restorations), Peter Phillips (Sydney University Conservatorium of Music)
Moderator: Sergio Ospina-Romero

5:30-7:00pm: Keynote Lecture
Georgina Born, Oxford University
Culture, Materiality, and Time in Non-Reductive Histories of Music Technologies –– from the Player-Piano to Musical Robotics

Reception to follow.

Lincoln Hall B20

9:00-10:45am: Panel 5
Industrial Endeavors and Musical Enterprises

Benjamin Piekut (Cornell University), Chair

Jordi Roquer (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Player-Piano Research in Spain ... Works by Frederic Mompou and Manuel Blancafort
Michael A. Kukral (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology), Edwin Welte and the Development of the Reproducing Piano in Europe and America
Jeff Benatar (Eastman School of Music), The Evolution of James P. Johnson’s “Carolina Shout”

[10:45-11:00am Coffee break]

11:00am-12:00pm: Roundtable 2
The Analog and the Digital

Steve Jackson and Roger Moseley (Cornell University), Matthew Mendez, Allison Wente

As several scholars have noted, the relationship between the player piano and the phonograph has given rise to divergent narratives. In historical terms, the triumph of the latter at the expense of the former has become a truism: the “realism” of phonography is commonly understood to have superseded and outmoded the binaristic technology of the player piano. From a media-archaeological angle, however, the player piano can be placed in a digital lineage that connects ancient hydromechanical organs, eighteenth-century looms, nineteenth-century telegraphic systems, and early twentieth-century punched cards in outlining a pre-history of modern computation (which now subjects analog recordings to its own binary order). Today, the MIDI sequencer and video games such as beatmania and Guitar Hero perpetuate the digital logic of the piano roll. Yet despite the accusations of crude mechanicity with which they are commonly charged, player pianos were not restricted to the processing of discrete data via its direct translation into musical action. On the contrary, they often invoked technologies and techniques capable of imbuing their (re)creation of music with the virtues of flexibility, expressivity, nuance, and warmth—qualities that would become synonymous not only with human renditions, but also with the analog media that captured them. Reflecting its participants’ perspectives from the fields of music studies, media studies, and information science, this roundtable discussion will consider how the history and genealogy of the player piano both anticipates and confounds contemporary distinctions between the analog and the digital.

[12:00-1:00pm Lunch break]

1:00-2:00pm: Live Player-Piano Sounds
Bob Berkman, master pianolist

Pedro Blanco (1883-1919)
España, Op. 4, No. 3: Intermedio

Oskar Merikanto, arr. (1868-1924)
Five Finnish Folksongs: - I Hear My Love Call From Afar - One Rose Has Grown In The Valley - At The First Light of Morn
- Fair Maid, Thou Grewest Up - Do Not Cry, Dear Mother

Samuel A. Perlstein (1884-1936)
A Gitte Nacht der Kolli ind dem Chusn (A Good Night to the Bride and Groom)

Gordon M. T. Sumner (Sting) (b. 1951)
Fields Of Gold

Craig Fuller (b. 1949)

Chick Corea (b.1941)
Crystal Silence

Hoagy Carmichael (1899-1981)
Georgia On My Mind

Jesse Harris (b. 1969)
Don’t Know Why

Ambroise Thomas (1811-1896)
Polonaise, from Mignon
Accompaniment for Victor Record 88296 –Sung by Luisa Tetrazzini

Player action rebuilt by Jon Perry Piano Restorations, Marion Center, PA
Piano rebuilt by Bob Sowyrda, East Aurora, NY
Link to NOTES here.

2:00-3:45pm: Panel 6
Craft, Embodiment and Expressivity

Annette Richards (Cornell University), Chair

Alyssa Michaud (McGill University), The Amateur Musician in the Age of the Player Piano
Pamela Feo (Boston University), “So intangible a thing as a pianist’s touch” - Listening to the Body in Player-Piano Performance”
Christine Fena (SUNY Stony Brook), “Soulless Machines”: The question of “human expression” in player piano discourse, 1900-1930

3:45pm Closing Remarks