"Shoot the Player Piano" is a 1999 work for an imaginary orchestra of aged and unusual mechanical instruments. Almost all of the sounds that you hear did not come from the accompanying instruments on the screen (with two exceptions: the sound of the paper roll turning, and the banjo tremolo). Using a combination of old and new recordings of calliopes, nickelodeons, German jahrmarkt organs and their interior bells and percussion, prepared piano, accordion, the violin of LaDonna Smith, the banjo of Eugene Chadbourne, and various machine sounds, I created a large library of samples and then detuned, altered, edited, and arranged these sounds. The antique instruments that I videotaped for this project were so well-maintained they sounded as if they could have been manufactured yesterday. Because my original inspiration was the unpredictable quality of deteriorating instruments, I chose to compose the music with sounds drawn from outside sources.
Commissioned by the American Composers Forum for the Sonic Circuits Festival