Igor Santos – Winston Choi (piano + synthesizer)


Étude nº 1

Composer: Igor Santos; Piano and Synthesizer: Winston Choi

Recorded live as part of the Project Incubator concert at Constellation Chicago, May 10, 2015

Composer’s Notes: Études is an ongoing series of works written for Piano and Synthesizer, to be played by a single pianist. Through the use of a two keyboard manuals, MIDI technology and physical modeling, these Études attempt to expand on the sonorities of the traditional piano into one that is capable of limitless micro/macrotonal tunings, broader tessitura, limitless timbral variations, increased array of extended techniques, and enhanced keyboard possibilities.

The MIDI keyboard functions as a “prosthetic to the piano it runs physically modeled piano sounds whose parameters are able to be precisely manipulated for the change in tunings, register, timbre etc. The real piano, in this setup, functions as a mask – its natural acoustic properties are used to compensate for the imperfection of the synthesized piano sound. Through various compositional and orchestration techniques, my hope is that once coupled together, these two sound sources will blend as one, and can be heard as a single “expanded piano.

The work, thus far, does not attempt to re-shape the basic properties of piano sounds (i.e. its envelope) there is no signal processing involved. Rather, my interest is in de-familiarizing the piano, in order to enhance or refresh one’s memory of it – to hear the instrument in a new light.    

Étude n° 1 is a harmonic study of combining different micro/macrotonal tunings with the equal tempered piano, and a pianistic study of differentiating multiple layers of music using two keyboard manuals. Each of the three movements is woven together by a thread of interrelated melodic fragments: a phrase from an earlier work of mine and quotations of music of which it resembles. The possibility of playing multiple layers on this setup is explored more intensely in the third movement, which makes use of “doubling scales on the synthesizer (i.e. each key produces two, or sometimes three notes). The first movement is included below. 

Thanks to the University of Chicago Computer Music Studio, and to Paweł Hendrich, for technical support on the project.


About the Artists

Igor SantosIgor Santos is a Brazilian-American composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic concert music. His works have been performed by groups such as eighth blackbird, Spektral Quartet and The Florida Orchestra. Igor is a current Ph.D. candidate in Music Composition at the University of Chicago. He received his Master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied under Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon and Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez. At Eastman he was an active member of the Ossia New Music group, assisting in organizing and promoting concerts of contemporary music. He received his B.M. in composition from the University of South Florida, where he was also active as board member and pianist for the USF Composer’s Consortium. Igor is currently studying under Shulamit Ran, Marta Ptaszynska, Augusta Read Thomas and Anthony Cheung. Additional studies include workshops and festivals such as IRCAM (ManiFeste), Synthetis, Fontainebleau, and Brevard Music Center.

Winston ChoiLaureate of the 2003 Honens International Piano Competition and winner of France’s 2002 Concours International de Piano 20e siècle d’Orléans, Canadian pianist Winston Choi is an inquisitive performer whose fresh approach to standard repertory, and masterful understanding, performance and commitment to works by living composers, make him one of today’s most dynamic concert artists. Choi has performed in recital and with orchestra across 4 continents, and has collaborated with composers including William Bolcom, Elliott Carter, Brian Ferneyhough, Bernard Rands, Sven-David Sandstrom, Bright Sheng, Christian Wolff, Chen Yi and John Zorn.  Choi’s debut CD, the piano works of Elliott Carter (l’Empreinte Digitale in France) was given 5 stars by BBC Music Magazine: “…sheer élan and pianistic devilment…” He can also be heard on the Albany, Arktos, Intrada, Naxos, QuadroFrame and Southport Records labels. Choi is Associate Professor and Head of Piano at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts.