Peter Ivan Edwards’ piarinutonello (2018)


Sounding Now 2018
A Festival of Contemporary Musical Practices
Sunday, 22 April 2018 @ 5pm
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory

On Sunday, 22 April 2018 at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory, the contemporary music ensemble hand werk will give the world premiere of Peter Ivan Edwards’ piarinutonello. Below is a brief biography of the composer and some background on the composition.

Peter Ivan Edwards

Peter Ivan Edwards is a composer who explores sound as a means to articulate energy, shape, narrative, and perspective.  He is fascinated by the way computers can be utilized as partners in the creation of powerful, expressive, original music.  His works have appeared in concerts and festivals throughout the world, including the Darmstadt Summer Courses (Germany), MATA Festival (New York), Wien Modern (Austria), and the Donaueschinger Musiktage (Germany), amongst others.

Born in New York in 1973, Edwards makes his home in Singapore today, where he teaches composition and computer music at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory.  More information about his activities, compositions, and collaboration can be found at

On piarinutonello

piarinutonello is a dramaturgical work in 19 scenes. It concludes with a short work for solo piano. I use the word dramaturigical rather than theatrical because it is the music that expresses the dramatic narrative and not the musicians. The musicians are tools for the music’s characters. I’m also more interested in the sociological notion of dramaturgy – the social interactions of humans in everyday living – than the theatrical one.

The work continues my investigation into the linguistic concept of force dynamics. This concept models the interaction of words within sentences in terms of their influence on each other. “The wind blew the ball across the grass”, for example, puts the wind as an agonist applying force to the ball, an antagonist in this situation. The ball’s natural tendency is the rest but it can move if force is placed upon it. In language agon/anagonist relationships can be very complex and subtle, a translation into music is, to a degree, limited to those relationships that truly involve force – a loud sound that causes another instrument to cease playing would be a good example. However, in my previous work ionobia for oboe, percussion, and piano, I explored how some of the psychological aspects of force dynamics could be expressed through the evolution of music material and instrumental relationships. In that work, for instance, the oboe “goes rogue” and violates a very clear subordinate relationship it has with the percussion.

piarinutonello brings this a step further. There is a narrative that form the basis of this work. It is a narrative founded on defined interactions and hierarchies as well as moments of agency in which instrumental characters transgress their prescribed function in a relationship. However, I didn’t want to tell a story so simply – I’m not confident that such a story can be told in sound – so instead I give window views into this narrative. Some scenes establish relationships, others show the moment of transgression.

There is a second narrative in the work as well, founded on practicing. Practicing music is a secret activity. (We like it when only the final product is seen rather than the steps to mastery.) A number of scenes are either dedicated to practicing or incorporate it as a layer of musical activity. Practicing is focused, necessarily selfish work and is good material for musical activity that should co-exist but not recognize other music happening. But we rehearse many things in our lives. So, a scene is dedicated to the strings practicing their “going rogue” moment against the percussion and piano. We understand, then, that they have been planning the moment of agency. This lends us a different understanding of that event when it comes. It is not temporary insanity but a decisive move to win back some control. Throughout the composition of this piece, I worked on developing a computer program that simulates practicing. The practice events here are the beta testing of this program.

The title derives from the names of the instruments in the work:

pia(no) – (cla)rin(et) – (fl)ut(e) – (percussi)on – (c)ello

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