Neal Kosaly-Meyer‘s Gradus: for Fux, Tesla and Milo the Wrestler is a continuing micro-epic contemplation of a small but growing collection of piano pitches, and a demonstration of the infinite sound-worlds potentially present in a few notes.
Gradus began with the sentence “Learn to play the piano one note at a time.” Thirteen and a half years ago, Neal Kosaly-Meyer began the project, devoting an extended improvisation session to each individual “A” on the piano keyboard, and to each combination of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 A’s. Working through those combinations took 12 years; since then all the E’s and a couple C-sharps have come in as well. Throughout this time Kosaly-Meyer has endeavored to let the project teach him: to find just how many sounds are available from a single piano note; to hear and play the possible relations between two or more notes; to permit the always lively silences to participate as a chorus; to let each sound be itself, and to allow a music to emerge in which each sound is always its own center.
Since 2002, Gradus has occasionally been brought out for public hearing, at first with only three or 4 A’s, later with more and ultimately all the A’s, last year at the Chapel including the highest E. This year’s performance will include A’s, E’s and the lowest C sharp. In performance, three sections (or “rungs”) are presented, one of 20 minutes, one of 40, and one of 60 minutes for a 2-hour continuous piece. One section always centers on a single pitch, a second on two pitches, and the third on a collection of three or more pitches. Gradus is an occasion for deep listening, for mindful immersion and contemplation of the varieties of pianistic sound.