Program Notes: Mr McPhee’s Music Boxes

Mr McPhee’s Music Boxes (2007)
For three toy pianos and vocalizing pianist

It matters little whether Canadian composer and ethnomusicologist Colin McPhee (1900-1964) actually had music boxes during his historic sojourn in Bali (1931-39).

If he did, he may well have noted similarities in their sparkling tinkle with the splendiferous sonorities of the gamelan. This miniature is scored for three contrasting toy pianos, the music for each based on a distinctive Balinese scale and other gestures. After building to an energetic dance, the music winds down, leaving that universal motif, the oscillating minor third which permeates so much music, from East and West.

This work was written for the debut performance in Brisbane of Balinese-Spanish pianist Ananda Sukarlan, a longtime and true friend of many Australian composers.

Acknowledging that it introduces him to this very idiosyncratic toy-piano world of Schroeder, the piece is dedicated to Ananda.

Copyright Vincent Plush 2007