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Trimpin: Nancarrow Percussion Orchestra / MATRIX 244 

When: Wednesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Dec. 23 2012
Price: free with admission

For German-born sound artist Trimpin, the local tradition of the cuckoo clock sunk in. From an early age, he has been rigging up acoustic instruments to electronic gizmos programmed to operate them (the word "play" seems inappropriate), in effect establishing unexpected relations between music, audience, and space. Given these interests, it's no wonder that Trimpin fell for the work of avant-garde player-piano composer Conlon Nancarrow. Nancarrow Percussion Orchestra, Trimpin's tribute to the composer, now at the Berkeley Art Museum, consists of three overturned player-pianos equipped with percussive devices and outfitted with a scaffolding of electronically controlled levers and gears, ready to pluck chords and swing mallets at the push of a button. Explore the sixteen Nancarrow-derived compositions and the elaborate machinations that realize them, paying mind to the sculpture's three-directional distribution of sound in space. You'll know you've reached the correct gallery when you find a complementary sculpture consisting of three machines mounted from the ceiling, dropping long paper scrolls bearing coded messages -- what appear to be player piano instructions. Through December 23 at the Berkeley Art Museum (2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley). 510-642-0808 or

— Alex Bigman


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