Project Notes, Part 28b

Grant Chu Covell

[October 2004.]


Composition to be performed in Germany, Düsseldorf or Bremen. Take one sheet of any piano work by Schumann. Make a photocopy. Make a photocopy of the copy. Repeat until the sheet is almost black. Distribute to an amateur chorus of elementary and secondary school teachers. Duration: 32 minutes.

Alternate version: Accompany above with tape recording of composer’s stomach after a spicy vindaloo. Use ring-modulation devices with bearded men at the controls.

2nd alternate version: Solo trombone part is derived from a national anthem with all accidentals and pitches obliterated with blue pencil. Trombonist plays with bell in bucket of water, using foot to knock over stack of bricks.


On a late-night TV show’s guest-sofa, arrange four operetta conductors and one bricklayer on worker’s compensation. Each man has been given a bottle of cheap spirits. (Vodka or tequila. It is assumed that it will be difficult to locate a female bricklayer.) The five discuss their efforts in negotiating collective-bargaining agreements for their ensembles, taking a swig from the bottle each time they mention themselves, replacement bottles provided as needed. Closed-circuit monitoring provides exterior shots of the set. Piece ends when either the bricklayer falls asleep or someone refers, tongue in cheek, to polyhedral solids.


A symphony orchestra’s brass section is arrayed on a proscenium decorated to look like an outdoor café with red-and-white checkered tablecloths and rust-resistant metal chairs. Zeffirelli’s set for the second act of La Bohème may also be used, but without the horses. Players select a part from the following: Bruckner 3, 5, 7 or 8 (any editions); Mahler 2, 3, 6 or 8; Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder or anything by Lennox Berkeley. While counting the rests, players may spread themselves out comfortably. Scrabble, chess sets, decks of cards, men’s magazines, real estate forms, religious tracts, cognac, cigars, needlepoint kits, high-speed Internet access, etc., distributed as needed. When it comes time to play, the musicians pick up their instruments, leave the stage and perform in the parking lot.


At the edge of a neglected cemetery facing the sea, provide 12 pianists with copies of the European Union’s Constitution transcribed into Morse code.


A mayor of a small town in the Tyrol asks nine violists — by postcard — to prepare excerpts from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. On arriving at the venue, an outdoor fish-fry, the violists learn that the concert has been cancelled. An altercation is averted when the performers agree to be compensated $0.30 for each mile traveled.


In Area C of an airport parking lot, under a setting sun, six left-handed copyists arrange Handel’s German Arias, one note per page. The music is distributed to a sleep-starved wind quartet (piccolo, English horn, bass clarinet and bassoon). Paper-cuts must not impede the performance.