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The art of indifference : 30 vignettes for solo piano

by Colin Spiers (2013)

art of indifference


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The art of indifference : 30 vignettes for solo piano / Colin Spiers.

Library shelf no. 786.2/SPI 9 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

The Art of Indifference is a collection of short piano pieces that seeks to address the phenomenon of the 'masterpiece syndrome.' Linked closely to the philosophy of musical works, where the composer's unique message is fixed in notation and then recontextualised through the endlessly variable interpretations of performers, this paradigm is arguably stultifying to the creative efforts of artists, especially when the value placed on producing a 'masterpiece' becomes the composer's ultimate goal, overriding all other considerations.

The use of the word 'indifference' in the title is intended to indicate a philosophical approach to the role of artistic creation. While its negative connotation is obvious, its use here is intended to symbolise a positive reaction to the challenge for composers of the principle of the masterpiece, through the ironically 'positive' process of indifference to its inflated importance.

This use of irony (which foregrounds the meaning of the music in its processes rather than its content), as well as the 'anti-art' celebration of deliberate bad taste, broken expectations, desecration (as seen in the parody of various iconic composers' styles), and the inept use and juxtaposition of various composition techniques, gives this work a decidedly postmodern character (the ultimate irony lying, of course, in the fact that The Art of Indifference is a work which questions the value and meaning of works).

Pianists should note, however, that despite this philosophical standpoint, there is a final irony: the quality of indifference is built into the generally very prescriptive notation, so that there is no leeway for performers to exercise indifference to the composer's written indications. On the contrary, the notes and the various tempi, dynamics, articulations and pedalling should be adhered to as closely as possible. In addition, the general tone of the playing should be quite mechanical (unless otherwise indicated by such expressions as 'expressive' and 'rubato').

Work Details

Year: 2013

Instrumentation: Piano.

Duration: 77 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Range of difficulty from around 6th grade AMEB to LMus

Contents note: [Book 1]  1. Emotional Roller Coaster -- 2. Hang Your Heart out to Dry -- 3. Computer Glitch -- 4. Love is not a Four-Letter Word -- 5. Chopin Could do Better -- 6. Prolix Creativity Ends in Death -- [Book 2]  7. Twelve-Tone Sandwich -- 8. A Box of Cereal, a Packet of Pain Killers and a Can of Paint Stripper - - 9. Gardening is not a Cure -- 10. Inconsequential Thoughts -- 11. Mozart's Metronome -- 12. The Storm Bird's Agenda -- [Book 3]  13. Fine Dining, Bad Dentistry -- 14. Left-Handed Compliment -- 15. Woodworking for Neorotics -- 16. Looking for Lunch -- 17. Brahms Buys a Bicycle -- 18. Don't Tell the Johnsons, but Their Shed's a Stargate -- [Book 4]  19. The Machinery of Delusion -- 20. A Failure of Temperament -- 21. Insert Tab 'A' in Slot 'B' -- 22. Under the Microscope -- 23. Debussy's Next Wife -- 24. The Heat Death of the Universe Could Ruin Your Day -- [Book 5]  25. Hoping for the Best -- 26. LSD and Ice Cream -- 27. Why Don't You Get a Real Job? -- 28. Near Enough is More Than Close Enough -- 29. Webern Pulls Himself Together -- 30. Who Writes Piano Music Any More?

First performance: by Ian Munro — Dec 13. Newcastle Conservatorium concert hall, Newcastle NSW

The composer has noted the following styles, genres, influences, etc. associate with this work:
Mixed genre, postmodern parody.


Performances of this work

Dec 13: Newcastle Conservatorium concert hall, Newcastle NSW. Featuring Ian Munro.

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