"KMH: Piano Music in the Continuous Mode", Notes by Lubomyr Melnyk

"KMH: Piano Music in the Continuous Mode", Notes by Lubomyr Melnyk


Composer's Notes

It was difficult to make this record. Music lives within the performer’s life. In no way can we substitute Reality with the technology of media. For years I have refused to make records for that very reason. In this motion away from our source, it is necessary to keep alive a real contact with that source of our Being.  The power of technology can be used to bring us again in view of nature.  That is not only possible, … it is necessary.  Because the motion towards our source is of deeper significance than the motion away from it, since that “away-motion” returns us instantly in any case; the “away-motion” is illusory.  We must devour time, as we devour food, and from that digestion, fuel our motion towards our source.  Records are not so completely evil as they once seemed to me.  Technology can reveal the source.  The records become softened by life; the harshness remains real, but it is made gentle and coated by the whole intensity of our humanity.  I have made this record so that people who could not otherwise hear the piece would have access to at least part of its nature.

The live-performance possesses the gift of reality; it is living, something we have forgotten in our day-to-day familiarity with the term live.  This reality is not possible from a recording.  Besides this actuality of “livingness,” the performance possesses an energy that reaches from the player, through the instrument, to the living audience.  In the performance of continuous music, this energy is of a particular sort, related to the energy that appears within the body during the generation of “continuous” technique.  That energy is not only psycho-physiological, it is mysteriously rooted to the source of our Existence, and it is unique to this “continuous” playing (within our Western culture).  And this phenomenon which is available to the real audience is denied to any other situation, by virtue of the impossibility of storing it in any form.

Conventional piano technique neither demands nor generates this energy, since it has never been aware of it.  We had never assumed that there could be another path in respect to musical technique.  But just as in this age, dancers have become aware of another world of physical movement and its inherent technique, so too we have at hand a strange and un-heard-of dimension to the act of playing a piano that embraces an entirely different physicality within the body.  It has led to the creation of a music which is physically inaccessible with conventional technique because that specific energy cannot be generated by that method.  And it is this energy, so closely united to the life within our nervous system, that makes possible by virtue of our Mind, that which is otherwise impossible.

Because there are sounds inaccessible to machinery, and therefore missing from the recording (sounds which the player and audience can hear within the music emanating from the piano) some changes and events in the music will seem strange or unreasonable to the record-listener.  But these parts of the true and complete sound (which microphones cannot capture and recordings cannot simulate) by their absence alone, do not make up the whole reason why the timings and durations and changes in the performance can seem strange; it is because they already happened in time, and they were blended by and with their time in reality; the recording simulates the original event, relocating it into a new Time:  and so once-living performance will seem out-of-place in that new living time:  because its Time has already passed.

The situation of recording this music is far different from that of recording other types of piano music:  because the continuous technique generates a special sound from the piano, a continuously emanating “sound-curtain” made up of layers of ever-mixing overtones.  To achieve even a slight sensitivity to this special sound, we eventually came to use six microphones, positioning them in various places around the room.  The sound thus achieved was the best I have yet heard for any taping of my work.

... though it is an infinite distance from the real presence of player & instrument ...

How can anyone bother to lie about this?  We are told by history and our situation in life, that to succeed in the power of this world, we must lie, either directly or through gentle half-truths.  The powerful ones rely on ignorance as their greatest ally.  We already have before us the formidable example of our politicians and world leaders, who exert their power through their distaste for mankind.  By their lies they manipulate the corpse of life, and justify their exaltedness by claiming that if men are fools enough to be caught in their mesh and so used and spit upon, that those who fall blindly under their wheels deserve the just and natural consequences of their foolishness.  Evil men they are, that in their madness for power, throw out a net to catch an unwary world, and hauling in a good load of ignorant fish, call out to their catch:  “Fools!...that you did not look out for my mesh!”  Fools they are, that weave such an insidious net as to catch a man!  They have sewn their own Souls into the fibers of that net, so deeply that not even their own death will extricate them.

Those whom they call lowly are so lovely.  It is for them who cannot hear that music exists.  Too precious and too lovely to be scorned with lies, let them come to hear the music only if they want to.

– Lubomyr Melnyk, 1979