Kyle Gann: The Convent at Tepoztlan (Canon 23:24) (1989)
for two pianos, or piano and tape
In the course of writing my book about him, I visited Conlon Nancarrow in Mexico City three times, in 1988, 1989, and 1994. On the 1989 trip, Conlon and Yoko very kindly took me along to their country home near Tepoztlan, and on a tour of the village, including the town's 16th-century convent. Upon returning home, I wrote a Nancarrow-style tempo canon at a tempo ratio of 23:24, and at a pitch distance of a minor third. The two pianos (or piano and tape) begin together, draw apart in time, switch tempos, and end up back together at the end. If a recording is used instead of second piano, the live piano should play the initially faster line; I enjoyed the theatrical effect of the pianist anticipating what was about to come out of the loudspeakers. The sense of architecture implicit in Nancarrow's approach to tempo canon had something in common, I fancied, with the convent itself.
The recording offered below, with Judith Gordon on piano, is from my Essential Music concert of December 12, 1989, and the tape part was rendered rather crudely with the infamous old Yamaha DX-7 and a four-track cassette recorder. Please excuse the primitive 1980s sound quality.
Duration: 7 1/2 minutes
PDF score here
Recording of the 1989 performance here
- Kyle Gann
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