Head Over Heels

For MIDI keyboard and computer
Commissioned by Earplay.
October, 23rd 1992
Knuth Recital Hall, San Francisco State University
Karen Rosenak
  • Program Notes

    Head Over Heels is a duet for a keyboard player and a computer. It seems strange to call such a piece a duet, and to be accurate, the keyboardist is, much of the time, in complete control. Everything the keyboardist plays is routed to the computer, where it is made audible by piano-like sounds stored on the computer as digital audio samples. In addition, certain notes played by the keyboardist are signals that trigger the computer to generate its own sonic events, using a variety of types of sounds, some very unlike the sounds the keyboardist produces. This triggering technique allows for precise coordination in time of the music played by the computer with that played by the keyboardist. As the piece builds to a climax, a gradual layering of linear material is built up during which the computer must track the keyboardist’s tempo, like a good accompanist. At the end of the piece, a long coda brings about a gradual settling and dying away, as the keyboardist plays ever simpler melodic interjections over thick chords played by the computer. Head Over Heels having been composed in 1992, I am very much indebted to Sebastian Berweck for stimulating both of us to accomplish the considerable work needed to modernize the technological aspects of the piece to enable it to be performed in the present. – Richard Festinger


  • "... Festinger's Head Over Heels offered a cat‑and‑mouse game... The piece was catchy and full of verve, something to look forward to hearing again."

    – Marilyn Tucker
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