It's Not As Easy As You Might Think To Be A Pseudo-Virtuoso

The "It's Not As Easy As You Might Think To Be A Pseudo-Virtuoso" pieces are a series of 4 piano pieces not originally called "Pseudo-Virtuoso" ones. That title was added after I sped the 4 pieces up as a bit of my usual self-parody.

Contrary to what this mockery may seem to imply to some, there are actually some interesting things going on here - hence the "It's Not As Easy As You Might Think" part of the title. Each of the 4 pieces involved selecting specific pitches to be sustained & then holding their keys down (with assistance from 1 or more other people or objects if needed) & then weighing down the Select Sustain pedal so that those pitches would resonate sympathetically throughout the piece. Each piece was then improvised taking the specific resonance into consideration.

Having been surprised to find that there are 2 uploads of "It's Not As Easy As You Might Think To Be A Pseudo-Virtuoso #2" on YouTube I've decided to provide links to them here as well as the relevant volumes of my "Piano Illiterature" on the Internet Archive & the following partial explanation from my "Mere Outline" site:

077. [piano concert 'for' 'transitionals'

- St Johns Church, Baltimore, us@

- spring or summer?, 1985

- This wasn't originally intended to be a concert for an audience - I just wanted to use the baby grand piano at St Johns to play & record some experiments I had in mind. However, the time arranged for my access to the piano coincided with a gathering of 'transitionals' at the church. These were, I was told, schizophrenics & other people who'd been institutionalized for mental problems who were using the church as a sortof halfway house where they could attempt to 'transition' back into the 'normal' world. As such, I wasn't exactly playing 'for' them but they were there. I remember the situation being somewhat awkward because I don't think that my playing was framed for them in any formal way. In other words, I doubt that I announced that I was going to play a concert or anything like that. I just prepared the pianos & then played. I vaguely remember people meandering around, possibly talking, probably not paying much attention to me. One of the 'transitionals' did come up & critique my piano playing after it was over. Alas, I don't remember what he said. I played 2 SELECT SUSTAIN 'pieces' of mine: "Black Keys Sustained" & "Whole Tone Scale Sustained". For the 1st, (w/ assistance from my girlfriend O. J. D'Art & possibly others) I held down all the black keys & then weighted down the select sustain pedal so that those keys would be unmuted throughout. I then took advantage of this in a half-hour improvisation where the black key pentatonic scale would've 'wallowed' in harmonics, & the tempered diatonic white key scales could've been either staccato or sustained. I alternated between these possibilities & combined them. For the 2nd, a whole tone scale throughout the entire keyboard was sustained in the same way. Again, I performed a half-hour improvisation exploiting the unique harmonic situation created by the selective unmuting.]

- recollections from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE


"Select Sustain #1 @ Quadruple Speed:

It's Not As Easy As You Might Think To Be A Pseudo-Virtuoso #1"

track 2 here:

- 1985 - 6:44 - select sustain baby grand piano: tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

Some pianos have 3 pedals: 1 for shifting the hammers so that they hit 2 instead of 3 strings in the multi-string clusters so that the volume's lower: sometimes called the "softness" pedal; 1 for unmuting all the strings so that they continue to sound after the key is released: sometimes called the "sustain" pedal; & 1 to unmute whatever strings are being played at the time the pedal is depressed: which I call the "select sustain" pedal. In 1985, I was experimenting with selectively sustaining notes & then basing improvisations around the resultant harmonic (etc) possibilities created not only by the sustains but also by the sympathetic vibrations. The 1st 2 were recorded as a sortof impromptu concert in a church that would allow me access to their baby grand during a time when their hall was being used as a meeting place for "transitionals" - ie: 'schizophrenic'/ 'maladaptive' outpatients. I kept all of the black keys unmuted throughout. This allowed me to play the black keys as an unmuted pentatonic scale (with the sustain giving that typical 'dreamy' effect that sustain is so overused for) & to bounce back & forth contrastingly between staccatos on the white keys & the sustain blacks, etc, etc.. The recording of this was then sped-up to quadruple speed - thusly increasing the overall pitch by 2 octaves & shortening the piece to a quarter of its original length. The resultant speed gives the shallow illusion of 'virtuosity' in my playing. I call these sped-up piano pieces: "It's Not As Easy As You Might Think To Be A Pseudo-Virtuoso" both to ridicule my own lack of virtuosity AND to point out that I really did put enough thought into the whole improvisation & process for the piece to still have its merits.


"Select Sustain #2 @ Quadruple Speed:

It's Not As Easy As You Might Think To Be A Pseudo-Virtuoso #2"

on YouTube here:

& here:


"Select Sustain #3 @ Quadruple Speed:

It's Not As Easy As You Might Think To Be A Pseudo-Virtuoso #3"

track 3 here:

- 1985 - 7:53 - select sustain prepared upright piano: tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

See the notes for "Select Sustain #1" as an introduction to this. The 1st 2 "Select Sustain" pieces were recorded using a baby grand piano that was only altered by selectively unmuting certain strings that stayed that way for the entire duration of the improvisation. #1 had the black keys unmuted, #2 half the keyboard unmuted (a whole-tone scale); #s 3 & 4 involved using a not completely in-tune upright that was altered beyond just sustain: 3 had A, B, C#, D#, F, & G unmuted (again, a whole-tone scale) but with the additional complication of C, D#, F#, & A (a diminished 3rd chord) having screws in the strings. The insertion of the screws, of course, changes the pitches of the strings so that both the sustained & non-sustained whole-tone scales have 2 notes each disrupted.




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