All The Wrong Notes


A short, virtuosic solo piano showpiece. All The Wrong Notes is very hard to play, but a total crowd-pleaser.

About the piece

When I was an undergraduate I wrote a piano piece called Densities. It used all sorts of math to predict what sorts of mutations a cool little set of notes would go through. I spent months doing calculations, and then months copying down the notes that those calculations resulted in. It ended up sounding like a bunch of random, pointillist nonsense. My teacher at the time, Lei Liang, suggested that I improvise a bit over it, to highlight the more interesting parts. I did that. It made it more interesting, but not too much more interesting. I suppose I learned something about trusting your instincts from that.

Flash forward to 2012: I’d just started my PhD at UCSB and become friends with a lot of great pianists both on campus and at home in Los Angeles, and had an idea to write a piano concerto under the guidance of my composition teacher Joel Feigin. I had a fantastic opening, and ran into a brick wall when I began writing the solo part. I’d written a lot for piano, but nothing specifically intended to show off the abilities of the soloist. Joel suggested writing a short piece to get my head around virtuosity. I didn’t have any material, and remembered that Densities had some pretty cool stuff in it that I had transformed into mush via all that math. I wanted to give those pitch series I’d originally written way back when a chance to rock as hard as they could, so used them as the starting point for All The Wrong Notes. After that, it was gut instinct, meetings with Joel, and a bit of advice from a killer reading session with Jeremy Denk.

My friend Richard Valitutto premiered the piece on May 3, 2014 at the Hear Now Festival in Los Angeles. I was ecstatic to work with him, and his input on fingerings, score layout, and pedaling was invaluable. I’m grateful that this piece gave me a chance to collaborate with so many mentors and friends.

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All The Wrong Notes
Solo Piano
4 minutes

Additional information

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Digital (PDF), Physical score