A prepared piano.
Muller’s review on Erik Griswold’s Ecstatic Descent is informative and clear in general, which makes it easy to read. However, the start of the article did not capture my attention at first. The author mentions in the beginning that Ecstatic Descent is a “40 minutes of extraordinary music for prepared piano that extends the technique beyond that of the influential John Cage” (Muller 2017). Yet, there is a lack of explanation of a prepared piano and John Cage’s background and influence. In fact, a prepared piano is a piano in which the strings are altered by placing a variety of objects, such as wood or metal (Thomsett 2012). Moreover, Cage is an American experimental composer who invented the prepared piano (Chilvers and Glaves-Smith 2016). Nevertheless, these details are not mentioned in the article, which suggests that Muller assumes readers of this review are already familiar with experimental music and its context.
After the introduction, Muller provides a direct quote from Griswold, explaining the composing method of Ecstatic Descent. I find the chosen quote from the composer is very helpful for understanding this innovative work, which does not follow the conventional forms.
Furthermore, Muller continues to describe the 40-minutes piano work in details. I like how he defines his listening experience of Ecstatic Descent that his meanings are clear. In other words, he does not use too many fancy but abstract words to attract readers’ attention. Instead, his descriptions are easy to follow.
In conclusion, Muller has a highly positive view on Ecstatic Descent. Although the introduction of the article needs more clarification, the writing flows well through the review.
“Cage, John (1912–92) American composer, philosopher, writer, teacher, printmaker, and draughtsman.” In A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art” A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art, by Ian Chilvers and John Glaves-Smith. Oxford University Press, 2016.
Muller, Paul. Erik Griswold – Ecstatic Descent. 2017.
http://www.sequenza21.com/cdreviews/2017/01/erik-griswold-ecstatic-descent/ (accessed 2017). Thomsett, Michael C. Musical Terms, Symbols and Theory. McFarland & Co. , 2012.