New to you! Sudoku 82!

Third time’s even more charming…. Announcing the release of the solo piano score of Christopher Hobbs’ Sudoku 82. How we got there is a tale….

Some years ago Chris Hobbs wrote Sudoku 82, a sparse, gentle, jazz-tinged piece for Apple GarageBand using mega sudoku systems processes. When Chris played it to me, I said, hey, that sudoku piece sounds like music from our favourite LA-based record label, Cold Blue Music. Cold Blue Music (, run by the composer Jim Fox, presents some of the best music in what is commonly known as “West Coast” or “the new California school”. The music is cool, often sentimental, with composers such as Fox, Daniel Lentz, Michael Byron and Peter Garland, Rick Cox, and others. So with this hesitant, laid back quality, Sudoku 82 became known jovially around Hobbs Manor as the “Cold Blue Sudoku”. Then Jim Fox got involved….

As Chris tells it:

This piece has evolved over quite a long time. It began, as most of my Sudoku series do, as a GarageBand sound file, in May 2008. I used fragments of pre-existing jazz piano loops which I slowed down from their original tempo of around 126bpm to a very slow 20bpm. The chosen loops were arranged according to random means, deployed over eight tracks.  Hearing the piece, the composer Jim Fox suggested the possibility of playing it live. I liked the idea, so this meant my notating the piece, transcribing the loops as they sounded when played at a very slow speed (chords which sound pristine at 126 can be quite ragged at 20!).  Having done the work I sent it to Fox, who recorded it on his Cold Blue label, using the excellent pianist Bryan Pezzone to overdub all eight tracks. It appeared (as CB0033) in 2009.

Earlier this year I looked at the score and considered the possibility of reducing it to a single piano line; although it is nominally for eight pianos there is not too much going on; many of the chords contain the same notes and the slow tempo gives plenty of time to roll chords which have too many notes to be played at once.  Every differing note in the original is present in the new version. While one has to forgo the stereo effect  it is at least playable, and one piano is rather easier to obtain than eight!

Chris premiered this solo version at the EMC² Festival in March, as part of the “Keyboard Experiments” concert, an amazing afternoon recital with music by Howard Skempton, Chris Hobbs, John White, Hugh Shrapnel and Terry Jennings, played by Antony Clare and Mick Peake, Chris Hobbs, John White, and Hugh Shrapnel and Sarah Walker. We’re going to put up the concert footage on the experimusic YouTube channel as we can (we’ve just recently got the videos!), but here’s Chris, premiering Sudoku 82:

The score is great for study, for trying out at home (like a lot of slow post-minimalism, the physical technique is pretty simple, while the musicality is complex), and is much simpler to programme for live performance than the version with eight pianos. Sudoku 82 is available in PDF format for only £5, payable through PayPal—you’ll receive it by email for printing out. For ordering details, see here.

Alex Ross and the EMC!

We received a message from our good friend at Irritable Hedgehog, David McIntire, that Alex Ross, critic of the New Yorker, had a blog post about Erik Satie’s Le Fils des Étoiles. David McIntire informed Ross about Chris Hobbs’s work on the whole version of this piece, and Ross has added a note about Chris’s work and that the EMC has released not only the first ur text of Fils (Hobbs created an edition from the manuscript, correcting many errors in the Salabert published score), but also the first recording of the corrected edition.

Most recordings of this incidental music to the pageant/play by Joséphin Péladan consist just of Satie’s three Preludes to the play’s acts. These Preludes are pretty well-known and performed frequently by most pianists who specialise in Satie. However, Satie wrote continuous music to accompany the play’s acts, forming Satie’s longest piece of through-composed music. Chris Hobbs played the first modern performance of the entire piece (i.e., after Satie premiered it), and its first recording, on London Hall Records, in 1989. However, that first performance used the published score, with its various errors. After Chris finished the new edition (published some years before the Bärenreiter Urtext Edition), he recorded the corrected edition for the EMC.

You can read Ross’s blog post here. The score is available (with a preface by the Satie scholar Robert Orledge) on the EMC Piano Catalogue and the CD (EMC 103) can be found here. There is a discount if you order both the CD and score together.