This piece was originally composed for the class Applied Music Theory II, which is taught by Gabriel Paiuk. The assignment was to compose a short piece for an instrument and some electronic element. I decided to explore ways in which a person interacts with a cassette player, other than just pressing play. In this piece I created, called teipitog (a play on the Icelandic word reipitog, meaning ‘tug of war’), the performer interacts with the cassette player in both a musical and tactile way.
Cassette player A has a microphone that is placed within the piano. It will record the piano and cassette player B will play what A has recorded.
The performer starts the tape (presses play on B and Play/Rec on A) and then plays the first chord. Each system or line in the score is the length of the tape so at the beginning of a new system, one should start hearing the recording of the previous system. The melody and harmony in the score were written in a way that it could be in duet with the previous system, making it seemingly endless and looping. The performer should be able to anticipate the delay and perform alongside it, creating a duet with their past self. However, the instability of the tape and the irregular speed at which it moves make the recording sound very different, which forces the performer to listen closely. The tape controls the time. The performer touches the tape causing a disturbance in the recording. He can manipulate the future sounds coming out of the player.
In the final part of the piece the performer presses the stop button on the cassette player that is recording and then presses play on the same player. The two cassette players are then both playing different parts of the loop. This causes both the performer and the listener lose track of the delay. The performer tries to play alongside the cassette players but the connection is lost. The cassette players are no longer connected to a temporality; they are now just playing an unchanging loop over and over again. The performer stops the cassette players and the piece is over.
What fascinated me the most about the piece is the unpredictability. Waiting for the cassette player to play the recording was always tense because it is unknown how it will sound. The time between recording of the piano and the playing of the tape is too long for the listener to be able to focus on the delay. It can be hard to remember what was played in the past and also listen to the piano playing in the now. Memory can be tricky and can deceive us. The tape holds the memory of the piano until it inevitability gets erased and recorded over