Nick Collins: Concerto for Accompaniment

The "Concerto for Accompaniment," by Nick Collins, represents the first example of what I believe is a new and promising compositional medium. At the 2001 International Computer Music Conference in Havana, I suggested to Nick that he write a piece for oboe and piano in which the piano part had technical demands that far exceeded the reach of any human player. Nick responded in only a couple of months with much more than I had asked for. That the technical demands are superhuman is really a somewhat incidental fact about this extremely interesting and beautiful composition whose musical merits would speak for themselves --- if it could be performed.

While scored for an unusual, but nearly traditional, combination of oboe and piano six hands, the composition is unplayable by traditional means. First of all, the technical demands alone are enough to make human performance impossible --- the piano parts contain extremely fast notes including seemingly unmeasured "showers" of texture as well as clearly measured 32nd notes as fast as 200 beats per minute. Secondly, the rhythmic demands are, in places, beyond what could reasonably expected of human musicians. For example, the fugue subject and counter-subject of the 2nd movement, appear at many different time scales including several that lead to rhythmic complexity far in excess of that normally encountered in instrumental music. As another example, the first movement contains a nearly unplayable rhythmic passage in which the oboe and piano play rather fast sixteenth notes which are are offset by a thirtysecond note. Finally, In addition to the technical and rhythmic demands, the coordination of the ensemble poses significant obstacles due to intricate and complex interweaving of parts.

This is, of course, where my research comes in. The performance of the piece was accomplished using my "Music Plus One" system. I hope you will enjoy listening to the .mp3 files.

Here are midi files for both movements:
  • Movement 1
  • Movement 2: Fugue
    The score might be available on request (for the right reasons).