Francesco Tristano: The Goldberg City Variations

13 December 2016

Francesco Tristano’s Goldberg City Variations is an ambitious, brilliant project where the idea is to use midi technology to build a digital city in real-time with a combination of piano and computer.

The idea of the ‘Cosmic City’ first appeared in ‘Music and Architecture’, a book by engineer Iannis Xenakis. In Francesco’s project, the Greek pioneer’s imagination of future urban redevelopment is fuelled by Bach’s notes and grows via a projection on the stage behind him.

This is how Francesco describes it:

“I play on a piano with MIDI technology (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) where each note of the 26,000+ notes of Bach Goldberg Variations is translated into digital data. This digital data works as a timeline for the construction of the city: real time rendering, as far as I know, this has not been done before. It is not a VJ playing alongside me playing the goldberg --- it is actually a computer game software creating our 3D goldberg city in real time.”

Francesco Tristano aims to take the audience on a journey of discovery through the magic of music and technology. Through music and visual elements he also explores the relationship between man, space, and progress and the celebration of a new relationship with our planet and its health.

The main focus is the vertical development of cities, where nature has more room for growth, as opposed to the concept of horizontal urbanisation. This project does not judge which is best, simply chooses that which is more pioneering, as Bach’s variation also does in its own exploration.

Music and city development mirror each other in their life cycles; and Goldberg City Variations, a unique, immersive and high impact show will take audiences to a whole new realm enhanced by a fantastical exploration of Xenakis' dreams combined with Bach's wonderful music.

Book project

Rider for Goldberg City Variations project