Michael Pisaro ‘Prepared Piano (Sketchbook) 1997-2000’

1. Prepare a piano.

2. They found the point in the room most distant from the piano.

3a. The inside of the piano.

3b. The outside of the piano. 

4. The piano mirrors the clouds moving above. We watched the blue-white film projected on the polished black screen.

5. A birch tree, split long ago, as it fans out like a crooked white V written on the shoreline, demarking the sky.

6. We open the lid and then close it, repeating as necessary.

7. I rolled a die, and stayed silently at the piano for the number of units indicated.

8. She visited the piano of a friend on an evening he was not present.

9. They select, using some procedure, 90 sounds. After arranging these sounds in a random order and numbering them, they play a numbered sound when indicated with a dot, do not play it when indicated by a space, keeping a pulse of 30 seconds.

MP_Prepared Piano 1

10. The pianist recites into the piano, at a pulse of 5 seconds per number, all of the numbers in his address book.

11. A sound is selected and played on the piano 84 times in a row. This is done once a day at the same time, from December 12 to March 5 (March 4 in a leap year).

12. A long rope hangs straight down from the ceiling, directly above the piano.

(It does not move.)

13. Five Rooms

Ceiling by Turrell.

Walls by Mauser.

Mirrors by Reinhardt.

Space by Martin.

Piano by Lewitt.

14. A repertoire:

• Embryons Desséchés by Satie (played 4 times daily).

• One page selected each day at random from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.

• Beethoven String Quartets; or, once in a while, a Bagatelle.

• John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes (played without preparation).

• “I’m a King Bee.”

• Poems by Robert Creeley.

• Sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti.

• The Goldberg Variations.

• “The Coo Coo Bird.”

15. They find an old, dead piano, and clear out the insides. They fill the body with evergreen needles, continuing to replace the needles with fresh ones as they turn from green to brown.

16a. Main Street.

16b. The Village Green.

16c. The Library.

16d. The Train Station.

16e. The School.

16f. Shop Windows.

16g. Lights.

16h. Your street.

16i. Your house.

16j. Your room.

16k. Good night.

17. The wound strings, removed from the piano and unwound, are strung together, the direction of the line changing each time a new winding is added—this is a path through the city.

18. She will have disabled one hammer in the central octave of the piano and then played the entire Well-Tempered Clavier I & II.

19. We have found a way to add one tone between E and F. (Not a microtone.)

20. A white room—four walls, a ceiling, a floor. No shadows; light filling the space. In this room is a completely white piano of the exact dimensions of the room.

21. Zither.

22. Three pianos are lined up side by side. (The second is missing.)

23. Using your fingernail, you lightly scrape the lowest piano string, starting at the end of the string farthest away from the keyboard, moving towards the keyboard, once per second, allowing extra time to maneuver through the supports. (Pedal down.)

24. He will have placed a microphone gently on the piano strings, turned it on, keeping the amplifier at low volume. Waiting.

25. One morning the doorway was obstructed by a toy piano.

26. She played one or two pieces at the piano of 2 to 5 seconds length every day. Most involved two or three note clusters played in an ascending or a descending series. There was occasional vocal accompaniment. (for Cocoa)

27. The piano imagines a greater or final piano. It believes that in the future there will be a piano that exceeds the potential of present day pianos. All one hears now is faint singing. Someday there will be a piano of pure singing, the piano’s idea of itself.

28. A film of a piano, projected on a pinkish-white screen. The music comes from behind the screen. Shown at the Champs-Élysées theatre with the lights on, the film is barely visible. The music, played on a broken violin, is barely audible. Someone leaves in disgust: “This is not a piano.” As reported in the Paris papers the next day, the showing was attended by at least 100 people, 14, or no one at all. A riot did or did not ensue. Refreshments were or were not served.

29. One note played on a piano with the pedal down. All the other strings resonate in proportion to their proximity to the original.

30. They imagine, in as much detail as possible, the notes Eb and E, as played on the piano. After five minutes, they play these tones. They repeat this until they can anticipate every sound to be heard.

31. Two pianos are in precisely the same place at the same time. In the next moment, they are gone, and there is nothing but a shimmering of the air.

32. The very sophisticated machinery perceives exactly when the chord begins and exactly when the chord ends. No words will have been used to describe the precise duration.

33. “We live in the distance between the beginning of the sound and the hearing of the sound,” says Antoine.

34a. All pianos.

34b. The pianos of America.

34c. This piano.

34d. Not a single piano.

34e. (blank)  — It is not yet named, but is always there.

35. The piano is a single material, which for its use requires division into secondary materials. Its sounds are those of material unfolding in time. Time only carries them to the full extension of the material. Beyond this lies an area uncounted by time.

36. (Materials)

Sound 1

Sound 2

Sound 3

Sound 4

Sounds 1 and 2

Sounds 1 and 3

Sounds 1 and 4

Sounds 2 and 3

Sounds 2 and 4

Sounds 3 and 4

Sounds 1, 2 and 3

Sounds 1, 2 and 4

Sounds 1, 3 and 4

Sounds 2, 3 and 4

Sounds 1, 2, 3 and 4

37. From 88 possible:

MP_Prepared Piano 2

38. Left hand: F, Gb, B, e. Right hand: g, bb, gb1, ab1.  (Or any other sound.)

39. A piano is something to touch. (to John)



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