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Gurdjieff/de Hartmann recording project on Kickstarter

Discussion in 'Repertoire' started by fredericch, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. fredericch

    fredericch New Member

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    This is my first post on the Piano Society Board, having just discovered this wonderful resource. I look forward to exploring more.
    In the meantime, I would like to draw your attention to the current Kickstarter project for my next recording, called "Hymns and Dervishes".
    You can see more information at the website hymnsanddervishescd.com.

    I decided to use Kickstarter to raise funds but more importantly to raise awareness of this repertoire. I recently presented this program of beautiful and unusual music – created through a unique collaboration between Georgi Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann – in a concert last month in NYC at the Rubin Museum. I have been wanting to record this repertoire since first discovering it over 10 years ago. These meditative and profound works fit perfectly into my search for new and world music that expands the traditional Classical canon.

    The Rubin Museum concert broke new ground, both in the programming – juxtaposing Dervish music with Western Hymns – and also in the way it was presented, integrating new technology in order to approximate the effects I was looking for.

    The challenge of this program comes from my desire to recapture the Middle Eastern origins of the Music for Dervishes through the use of traditional scales - Bayaty, Esfahan, Hijaz, etc. The harmonious feeling of perfect fifths, and the bending pitches of seemingly improvised scales produce a much deeper emotional effect in these tunings. In preparation for this recording, I consulted with experts on Middle Eastern music and on micro-tuning the piano, producing a number of different scales for different pieces. In all, 5 separate tunings are used in 5 different keys.

    The overall effect I'm looking for is a large-scale breathing. The unusual tunings of the Middle East alternating with the even-tempered Western scale creates an intensifying inhale, followed by a relaxing exhale, over and over. In my live performance, I was able to approximate this effect through the use of electronic keyboards to execute the different tunings in real time. The only other way to perform this music would be to have 8 different pianos on stage, each one tuned differently!

    However, it is only through a recording that the depth and uniqueness of the program can be fully realized. I’ve imagined each piece with a specific tuning, and consulted with experts in micro-tunings and traditional Middle Eastern music to create these scales that bring out hypnotic, haunting qualities in the music. During the recording session, the piano’s tuning will be constantly adjusted in order to bring out these elements, then the music seamlessly integrated together in the editing process.

    I've used the magic of the studio before - to present Chopin's Rondeau in C in the 2-piano version with me playing both parts, as well as to produce pedaling effects in Ravel that could not be reproduced in concert. I'm very excited to be pushing that envelope again with this repertoire that deserves a wider audience.

    I hope those who are interested will look into the project. I'm excited to be creating this opportunity to crowd-source and be involved in the project from the ground up. Check out the rewards: the access to materials through the internet is new to me, and I look forward to executing all of that.

    Thanks for reading!
    Frederic
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Nice to see such a renowned and adventurous pianos stop by on PS ! And we're glad you like the site. You will find though, that with only few exceptions, all the regulars on this forum are amateurs. Most of the professionals only drop some recordings every now and then, but don't otherwise take part in any way.

    What I had so far heard of Gurdjieff/de Hartmann failed to make me want to explore it further. It just did not click with me, even though I have a keen ear for all things exotic, including quarter-tone music. It's probably very interesting once your ears get attuned to the details of middle-eastern music, but I don't find it immediately appealing like for instance the music of Alan Hovhaness, who also worked in the Greek-Armenian idiom. However your project seems to get good backing so there might well be a market for this music. Best of luck with it !
     
  3. fredericch

    fredericch New Member

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    Hi Techneut,
    I think it is a loss for professionals not to hang around with the amateurs - lots to learn in both directions!
    For the Gurdjieff/de Hartmann, I do feel that there is a very special quality that can be brought out in some of the music. I would say that there is about 30% which is remarkable, and 30% that is negligible. The collaborative process between the two is particularly interesting to me. In the same way that transcriptions are interesting because of the collaboration, I think there are elements of this music that is neither Gurdjieff nor de Hartmann, but something bigger than the two of them.
    Also, the Middle Eastern qualities could be considered a gimmick or a detail, which is why I think the juxtaposition of Eastern and Western is so interesting. For me, it underlines the effects of the micro-tuning in a way that emphasizes the tension/relaxation inherent in the altered intervals. Still, I'm waiting to hear it fully executed on the recording, which I'm looking forward to doing!

    Thanks for your comments!
    Frederic
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Frederic,

    It is very nice to see you here. Welcome to Piano Society! I saw you perform a concert in my hometown, a suburb of Chicago, about two years ago. You were great - I talked about the concert for days afterwards.

    Anyway, your project sounds fascinating. I don't know the music of Gurdjieff or de Hartmann, but from what I heard in your video, it sounds very nice and soothing. And the fact that you will do all those re-tunings is so interesting! I sometimes use technology to make recordings too - not nearly as sophisticated as your projects, but I love experimenting and learning new editing audio/video programs.

    So, best wishes with your project! I hope we will hear that music soon, and I hope you will continue to visit Piano Society. :)

    ~Monica
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    This is true, and I like your attitude on that. Amateurs like me are in awe of professionals who make CD's, go on tours, get rave reviews, etc. But I never know what professionals think of amateurs who sacrifice much of their spare time to achieve some proficiency, and yet never come within
    shooting distance of any professional pianist who does this for a living. It is a subject that interests me mightily.

    As for Gurdjieff/de Hartmann, I listened to some more stuff from them on YouTube but can't help finding it deadly boring. Their treatment of the
    material seems maddeningly basic and unimaginative, the pieces just stop in their tracks instead of having a satisfying ending. I'd just as soon
    listen to this kind of music performed by original artists on native instruments. But that would be ultimately boring, too, western ears just are
    not attuned enough, and western patience is unsufficient.

    All the same I think it's is great that a well-known artist wants to make a case for this music. I wish more established pianists would dare to step
    away from the iron repertoire.
     
  6. fredericch

    fredericch New Member

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    Just an FYI that the Kickstarter project was successful! I raised the funds necessary to produce and promote the Hymns and Dervishes CD, thanks to almost 100 backers. It was a very good learning experience, dealing with fundraising and presenting the project to a whole range of people. I highly recommend putting a project out there yourself and looking into Kickstarter!

    Frederic
     
  7. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well done ! I hope the CD will sell like hot buns :)
     

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