This piano was weathered in Skaugumsåsen, Asker; an area of forest, mountain and lake close to Oslo, Norway. Its sound is distinctive of its environment at the time it was made, a memory of the present before the future climate takes hold.
The Weathered Piano has four seasons that play as one continuum:
- Autumnus (autumn): late summer dissolves into autumn. Storms tear through.
- Hiems (winter): arctic winds, the cold creeping in, the freeze down, crusted with ice, a last burst and energy as the light fails.
- Ver (spring): cracks appear, bursting, fighting winter, the light returns, spring rains heavy then softer, calmer.
- Aestas (summer): warm twilight evenings, extending time. Daytime brings passing company. The noon sun smashes into the varnish, glares off the brass, rebounds off the strings.
The composition was made by applying my own methods for analysing spatial information in 3D recordings of a real 'weathered piano'. I segmented and classified the recordings based on their spatial-spectral features, and explored principle trends, consistencies and variances in the materials using methods of music information retrieval and machine learning. I used these results to train a system that would reveal rules useful for composition. These rules were then iterated into the compositional process and gradually the work took shape. Autumn, winter and spring are made with their own systems derived from specific sounds. In Summer, I departed from the strict system and explored the link between the piano sounds and nature; between my experience of 'sound', what is heard, what is unheard, and the forest close to where I live.
The Weathered Piano is composed in 64-ch 7th order 3D ambisonics. It was commissioned by EAU with support from the Norwegian Cultural Council. The original 'weathered piano' from which the source sounds were recorded maybe still sits outside CCRMA, Stanford (USA). All multichannel formats are available for performance as well as stereo for performed sound diffusion.