Conclusion, with computer solo and collage with sample from Goldberg Variations.
The last piece on the program plots a path of interaction between musician and computer, beginning with the computer as doppelganger, or double, and ending as golem, or automaton. Poetically, it dramatizes a human confrontation with “stupid” machinery. The computer is programmed with only the simplest of operations – delay, transposition, inversion – and deliberately no effort is made to parse the pianist’s gestures semantically. All the music is improvised in performance, though certain topics are pre-selected in the manner of collage (from Bach and Andriessen, for instance). The computer solo is combinatorial, based only on what has been played into its memory. The clashing gestures of the final section are in part inspired by the “vacuum-cleaner story” told by Glenn Gould, of his experience playing the piano while its sound was drowned out by the roar and rumble of the machine. What remained was a tactile involvement with his fingers and an intensified inner hearing of the fugue he was playing. Here, the computer provides the background layer, and the music precariously poking through recalls a specific passage of Gould’s own final recording of the Goldberg Variations.