A study of innovative piano technique in published works of selected composers from 1950-1975

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Stafford, Larry Dale, 1943-
Kohler, Jean Charles, 1916-1980
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This study surveys and categorizes new techniques of sound production for the pianoforte which have come into prominent use since 1950. In addition the project developes a series of ten study pieces (etudes) which aid advanced piano students in acquiring the basic techniques required to perform many of the piano compositions written since 1950.A review of the piano literature of selected composers from 1950-1975 revealed thirteen basic techniques which have come into common use in these twenty-five years. Although many more techniques exist, they are combinations or variations of these basic techniques. The thirteen techniques have been classified into four categories: string techniques, keyboard techniques, string/keyboard techniques, and pedal techniques. Only techniques using sounds derived from the manipulation of the strings, keyboard, and pedals of the piano were included in this study.Although the study reveals that many of the techniques discussed were first introduced in the earlier part of the twentieth century, particularly through the compositions of Henry Cowell, they did not become common compositional techniques until the years after 1950. Their popularity after 1950 can be seen as part of a trend of composers becoming captivated with "sounds" per se, apart from their melodic or harmonic significance. This interest and fascination with "sound events" set the proper climate for the widespread development of the pianoforte techniques discussed in this paper. The development of the tape recorder and the long playing record made the interchange of musical ideas and the new techniques readily accessible.This study serves to clarify much of the mystique which surrounds many of the pianoforte compositions published since 1950. It discusses the new notational symbols used to designate the techniques and gives practical suggestions as to their proper execution.The series of study pieces developed for this project are meant to serve as an introduction to the new techniques. Although the pieces are written for the advanced piano student they are devoid of the rhythmic and visual complications which often surround compositions incorporating the new techniques. Except for two etudes, each piece uses only one new technique.