Conlon Nancarrow and Trimpin Discuss Music and Technology

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When the sound artist Trimpin met composer Conlon Nancarrow in 1987, the older Nancarrow had already begun to garner international attention. After spending an entire career in virtual solitude and political exile, this true American Maverick was being "rediscovered" by modern musical America. Brought together for a 1989 interview at the La Mama Experimental Theater Club, Conlon Nancarrow and Trimpin discuss the ideas behind their music and their resulting, unique physical manifestations. 

Host Charles Amirkhanian and audience members ask the composers questions, as part of the San Francisco-based Exploratorium's 'Speaking of Music' series. The two composers describe the complex mechanical nuances of Nancarrow's player pianos, as well as Trimpin's modern counterparts.

Nancarrow explains why he stopped writing for live performers, with a couple notable exceptions, as a practical response to the challenge of multiple tempos. While Nancarrow's interest in technology came from practical considerations, Trimpin recalls his early fascination with machines resulting from his father's constructions and his own love of junkyards.

From March 8-30, From the Archives streams weekdays at 7 AM and 8 PM on Q2 Music. For more information on American Mavericks, visit