I’m excited to have received an EAC grant to develop lectures based on my work with Nancarrow’s Studies for Player Pianos. I hope to continue my research using Trimpin’s digital scans of Nancarrow’s piano rolls and to present some of my findings at the University of Alberta and University of Victoria in the future.
In my work of analyzing Study No. 1, I have experimented with re-notating this piece. I have found many errors in both the notated score, and what appear to be mistakes—and omissions in the actual punched rolls (indicated by Trimpin’s midi scans)—as well as numerous formatting decisions that make reading the score accurately very difficult.
The rhythmic complicity makes it difficult for notation software to handle Nancarrow’s music, but this has been a great exercise to work through some solutions to several notation problems using Finale. Since this piece has a rhythmic resolution of a 32nd duration, it was possible to create all metres manually. I expect this to get more difficult in Nancarrow’s less straight-forward structures, which I believe will require the bulk of the notation formatting in a program like adobe illustrator for best results. While notating these studies by hand—freeing myself from the restrictions and rules of notation software—is tempting, it leaves for less potential to edit scores in the future.