Classical music video no. 5

Yesterday I mentioned composer Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997); today’s video is of the Bang-on-a-Can All-Stars playing one of his works. “Study 3a” was originally written for player piano, and was not playable by a human pianist. This transcription, playable by humans, divides up the music among several musicians playing piano, electric guitar, clarinet, sax, cello, bass, and percussion.

Here’s another example of music that defies the boundaries of musical genre. Is it jazz? classical? or what? Nancarrow had played jazz when he was young, before studying “classical” music with Walter Piston, Roger Sessions, etc. This piece is obviously influenced by classical music of the mid-twentieth century, but check out that groovy boogie-woogie left hand on the piano that just gets under your skin and makes you want to dance.

If you’re curious what the original work sounded like, here’s a player piano rendition on Youtube. Me, I like the human-performed version better.