Colour Etude II


'Colour Etude II' was commissioned by keyboardist Xenia Pestova. The piece is scored for one or two toy pianos and live electronics. It was premiered as a duet by Xenia and Késia Decoté in March 2017, at a concert in London.

The piece is the second in a series exploring the strict application of certain spectral techniques influenced by the research of William Sethares, after 'Colour Etude I', this time with an added emphasis on improvisation. It makes use of two pitch sets; one from the spectral analysis of a toy piano's C4 (middle C), and one from its F4. The electronic components of the piece consist of two procedurally-generated and evolving soundscapes derived from the the analysed spectra, which provide the backdrop for the piece, and a sampler which contains toy piano notes tuned to pitches from these spectra that would otherwise be unplayable (microtones and notes in an extreme high register).

The electronics can be wholly controlled using the 'Colour Etude II: Live Electronics' iOS application, freely available for iPad & iPhone, which greatly streamlines the equipment requirements of this piece and increases portability. Alternative options are available, including a Supercollider patch to control the soundscapes and an EXS24 file for the sampler; please contact me if you require either of these files.

The score provides a series of text instructions, pitch restrictions and some notated examples to structure and guide the player's or players' material throughout the piece, therefore also providing the overall shape. Beyond this, everything is improvised.

Premiere of 'Colour Etude II' by Xenia Pestova & Késia Decoté.

Live recording of the premiere of my piece, 'Colour Etude II', at IKLECTIK Art Lab in London, 18 March 2017.

Performed by Xenia Pestova & Késia Decoté. Recorded and mixed by Saint Austral Sound. Video by Hugo López-Castrillo.