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Chess Pieces


By John Cage

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1944. Composed by John Cage (1912-1992). Edited by Margaret Leng Tan. Piano (Solo). Modern. Sheet Music. Composed 1944; First Performance: February 18th, 2006. Duration 00:08:00. Edition Peters #EP68110. Published by Edition Peters (PE.EP68110).

Item Number: PE.EP68110

ISBN 9790300750378.

for solo piano

Deciphered and transcribed by eminent pianist Margaret Leng Tan from the 1944 painting--held since then by a private collector--created by Cage for the Duchamp/Ernst exhibition, 'The Imagery of Chess.' Says Tan,'Having been hidden in plain sight for over half a century, the question, 'What does it sound like?', was irresistible.

From Ms. Tan's liner notes of her recording, on Mode Records 158: Embedded like a musical fossil within the sixty-four squares of the 19x19 inch chessboard that comprises 'Chess Pieces' is...a through-composed score consisting of 22 systems of music read conventionally from left to right. Each system is a self-contained musical unit of 12 bars....There is no specific instrumentation given in either the draft manuscript or the painting. [Therefore] the piece could just as easily be played by two instruments....Neither tempo nor dynamics are provided. 'Chess Pieces'' modal and diatonic canvas is akin to Cage's 'Four Walls'....However 'Chess Pieces' is abstract and dispassionate while 'Four Walls' is emotionally fraught.'

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