Vexations Marathon-Saturday 1 May-Part 6

Group 6- 21:00-00:00

Antoine Francoise, Lukas Filipczak, Matthew Lee Knowles, Alex Wilson, Philip Lawton

Not sure if I’ve ever prepared myself to prepare myself before. Hope I don’t sneeze, its about 9:10pm.


Not sure if I’ve ever read about someone not being prepared to be prepared to prepare themselves before- I’m sure they won’t sneeze though! It’s amazing how the music is easy enough that you can drift away, but tricky enough so you don’t fall asleep (just about!). I guess it’s the music equivalent of the lotus position for meditation- which is comfy enough so you can meditate, but not so much so you could fall asleep. Wish this piece was played more often. 


I don’t know the time- I am the first in my group to fully prepare, play and count. The waiting was interminable. The playing I forgot (though I know I made mistakes) and during the counting I developed a system of making a dot for each of B,H1,B and H2 in the shape of a tick as they went, then ‘making’ it on completion √.


Few comments:“Immobilities serieuses” is the worst way to prepare. It hurts, I’m starting to feel sick, you keep thinking that they’ll forget to cue you…Playing’s the best part. I try to keep it as unemotional as possible…but what do the other players think, I think so much when they play, do I change tempo, do I put unexpected accents? The first line always surprises me after playing the second, I don’t know why, my fingers don’t want to go there. Counting is easy, because you’re the only one who really know what’s going on? I draw silly faces in the boxes.


One stint down, one to go. It’s the most serious joke I know, fantastically hilarious and macabre. Satie wants you to get it wrong, but is perfectly happy when you get it right. I try not to get too enchanted when playing; I’m perhaps slightly more emotional than I want to be, I will try to put less of myself in it this next time. The trickiest past for me is the end of the theme, the repeated e- the gap inbetween can be very telling-I experiment with pedal. I was wondering if the same thing could work successfully with text-I might try it… [my ticks were a bit shaky]


23:15 Down to 3 in the audience, I think everyone has gone home to bed now. Even the snoring lady on the bean bag has gone. Never mind… I am sure plenty of audience will come for the end. I’ve finished playing now, shame. Could’ve carried on for longer. Once the trance sets in the time flies by. Gorgeous stuff, slightly awkward to keep smooth without too much pedal, did my best though. And as for keeping with the metronome! Someone else just came in and stole the beanbag I was going to claim, dammit! Goodnight all. Oh and thanks very much, was great fun!


Sorry Alex, it was me… the beanbag I mean. Forgot to say, I started playing with no soft pedal and suddenly realised I put it down in the middle, I don’t remember when…small fact. All day I thought, someone in London is playing Vexations. Every minute of the day. And now I’ll finish the piece in 40 mins…seems like no time. Audience=1 (he’s asleep and groaning in his dreams…)


This entry started with the last performer. I intend to write (slowly) for as long as he plays. I suspect it will get difficult. Already I am trying not to write too fast, simply to make is easier. I didn’t mean to, but had to take a break after my first go. But I came back and haven’t left since. The audience numbers seven or eight. The view from this corner is bad. What with a Stein in the way. I looked through the counting tables when I counted. Pages of ticks. The last page gets interesting; there is my dots method. Then people have started their own methods. Drawings. I left a message for the last counter. I didn’t think it was right for me to do something to the last box, but I hope Matt will end with something suitable. The different playing styles have irked me. Obviously one wouldn’t want it played by a disklavier or some such, but there is obviously a conscious, effort on the parts of some to phrase, dynamic and so on the short piece. I think such nuances should be accidental. A slight slip might cause a note to be louder for example. Matthew’s playing is like his composition. I admire it, but could not see my way ever trying to emulate it. My hand is cramping (I write left handedly, with a kind of claw).  There was the expectation that the room would fill towards the end (this bothered me, what’s the point in watching the last 10 mins of an 18 hour piece?) but my fears were groundless. The audience is minimal. I understand this book is to be transcribed.  I’ve only just remembered that. To the transcriber: Sorry for such a long entry-I hope it is not to unpleasant a task- I owe you a drink. The lights flickered (from outside) we must be nearing the end (?). I have made the decision to neither count (which is impossible without paying attention) nor watch from the hand signals we have been using to show 3,2, 1 to go. I regret making Matt smile with mine- I don’t know how seriously he was taking the immobility. Overall: the most difficult part: NOT playing, counting or waiting, but waiting to wait. The ‘rest’ periods. I listened, mostly. Some wandered around. I guess earlier in the day people could have gone and hung around upstairs with crowds. There must be a reception happening somewhere, staff in the audience have had wine glasses. A success? How does one judge? An achievement?-of course! I noticed several times that I was not bored listening to the piece. But I have been taking part, and only for a short time. No one has been here continuously from start to finish so no one can say. I must ask my friend how he felt when he peformed it solo at uni. Before my time otherwise I would have watched!  Hope I would anyway. I have written down which repetitions I played (715-278 + 785-798)- unremarkable numbers, but perhaps something can be done with them (I’m a composer, not a pianist, hence my mistakes during performance), I…


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One thought on “Vexations Marathon-Saturday 1 May-Part 6

  1. Hi all 🙂

    was a great experience 🙂

    I wrote about the possibility of doing a similar thing with text – I will be considering this over the next few months. Please get in touch if you’re interested in this idea as well 🙂

    matthew lee knowles

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