At the Node of Ranvier

Programme Note

This piece has been devised in response to the collaborative partnership between myself and bio-engineer Dr Kirstie Andrews, and the unique capabilities of the piano machine + ensemble combination. Dr Andrews’ research involves creating synthetic scaffolds that help nerve pathways to regrow after damage or disease. In this piece, I have positioned the machine as the artificial scaffold, the piano as the spine section of the CNS (Central Nervous System), the ensemble as peripheral nerves and the computer as the ‘brain’. The woodwind act as the ‘sensory’ neuron channel, and the strings as the ‘motor’ neuron channel of the peripheral nerve. The tape plays sounds that are heard externally and processed by the CNS, and some internal nerve signals can also be heard when the system is in a heightened state of activity (such as when there is pain). The activity produced by the peripheral nerves (ensemble) are also echoed back through the spine (piano) by way of a transducer set inside the piano.