Piano Roll Blues is a composition for one piano, seven hands. The "Piano IV" part, for right hand only, needs some special explanation. This
part is to be played by a pianist who is seated in a chair "behind" the
other three pianists (who are assembled on benches at the keyboard). The
"Piano IV" pianist, therefore, must walk to the keyboard to perform,
and the score provides directions for moving from the chair to the keyboard
and back again. The "Piano IV" pianist plays the keyboard from a
standing position. In addition, the "Piano IV" pianist is also called upon
to perform certain dramatic gestures which are described in the score.
These include descriptions of the manner in which the pianist should move
toward and away from the keyboard, directions regarding posture or
"attitude," remarks about how to access the keyboard between "Piano I
and II" or "Piano II and III," page turn indications (the "Piano II"
pianist is also instructed to turn pages 21 and 23), and the performance
of a hand
gesture that is indicated at the beginning and the ending of the piece.
The gesture is identified by an "x" notehead, and instructs the pianist to
raise the right hand so the "side" or the "back" of the hand faces the
pianist. This means that when performing "side" that the back of the
the audience, and that "back" means the outer side of the hand is
facing the audience. At beginning, the pianist is instructed to hold
until instructed to play, and at the end of the piece, the gesture is
performed as a series of rapid "turns" in the rhythm performed by the
other three pianists.
Piano Roll Blues was commissioned by pianist Rebecca Penneys, who performed the work for the first time with pianists Anton Nel, Tony Caramia, and Nelita True as "Piano IV."