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SF Classical Voice: "In Dan Tepfer’s World, Human and Machine Meet on Even Ground"

"...Tepfer’s music is a mix of Bach and Bill Evans: familiar, pleasing, and extraordinarily well made. Tepfer’s skill set is remarkable, and his piano playing is dexterous and imaginative.

The skill of his playing combined with the exponential possibilities of the Disklavier and the stunning beauty of his diagrammatic animations makes Natural Machines a delight to hear and behold."

Excerpt from review by Jim Harber

SF Classical Voice

Photo Credit: Bailey Holiver

In the vast compendium of live performance, the compositions of Dan Tepfer — a classically trained pianist, adept jazz improvisor, highly skilled computer programmer, and digital graphic artist — hold a unique position. Back in the day, we would have described the experience as far-out and psychedelic. Tepfer describes his recorded music and live performances as explorations in “a digital playground” where “the algorithmic and the spiritual” intersect.

As a result, he can perform music far beyond the limits of human anatomy. Think of it as piano two-hands, four-hands, six-hands. And depending on the algorithmic rules, Tepfer’s playing might be mirrored in intervals, layered into multivoiced canons or triads, or replayed with the melodic themes inverted or backward — as Tepfer illustrated by performing one of Bach’s Goldberg Variations as composed and then “commanding” the computer to play the performance it had just recorded, but in reverse.

The effect of watching Tepfer perform is like a visual-auditory three-ring circus. As he plays, a camera positioned above projects the full keyboard at the far right of a large screen. As each composition evolves, the remainder of the screen fills with a succession of ever more complex, computer-generated animations based on the piece’s specific algorithm. At the same time, the view of the keyboard shows the invisible ghostly fingers of the Disklavier at work.

Read SF Voice review in full here.


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