“Written in 1913, the Musical Erratum for piano forms part of the sequence of notes and projects which led to Duchamp’s celebrated artwork, La Mariée mise é nu par ses célibataires, méme (The bride stripped bare by her batchelors, even, often called The Large Glass). La Mari?e? is also the sub-title of the 1913 piano work. Abstract, elusive and even “inachievable” according to the artist, the Musical Erratum consists of two scores. In the first, notes are replaced by numbered keys, and virtuoso performance is discouraged in favour of novel mechanical instrumentation. The second offers a form of random composition, by which numbered balls are dropped into the moving wagons of a toy train. Famously, Duchamp described the whole as “a very useless performance, in any event.”
Two versions are included on this CD, including a conventional (but non-virtuoso) performance on piano, and another on which spinning rotary discs brush the piano strings to produce extraordinary tones. The extended 74 minute CD also includes four spoken word extracts by Duchamp (in the English language), including a fascinating lecture delivered in Houston in 1957, The Creative Act, and a lengthy interview recorded in 1959.