Pianos and Metronomes

Yesterday I went to a concert of piano music at the Cardiff University Concert Hall. It featured several postgraduate students playing an eclectic mix of 20th century music.

The really unusual thing about this concert though, was that it also had a performance of Ligeti’s Poème Symphonique for 100 metronomes. This is a wonderfully silly and noisy piece of theatre, which produces quite possibly the most complicated polyrhythms ever. Its a wonder that a few years after this piece was composed, Steve Riech would get such credit for making a mere two instruments to play at different speeds – one hundred pianos phasing is what I want.

For this performance they placed the metronomes all around the hall (as you can see in the picture above) and it was a really interesting experience. Although in future performances, I will have to remember to leave before being roped into helping pack away the hundred solitary metronomes into individual boxes.

Anyway, here’s a recording from the YouTubes, that’s well worth a watch:


About jackwestmore

Jack Westmore writes music for film, television and media, and is currently based in Cardiff in the UK.
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