Ear-Walking Woman (1996) is for prepared piano and exploring pianist and uses the classic piano preparations: dimes (to detune strings), screws, wiring insulation sheathing (to create a wood-block like sound when inserted between strings), bubble wrap, a rubber ball and cedar wood mothballs, a ceramic pestle, two round small stones (found on a beach in Greece), a bowl gong, mallets and a glass water tumbler.
The interior of the piano is a rich source of sounds, as many twentieth-century musicians have found. When I started experimenting on my own piano with these objects, I found that even slight changes in the way of producing the sound evoked striking variants in the details of that sound. For example, rocking one of the stones between two sets of strings brings out several pitches and their overtones; a gentle push evokes just a few. Getting the stone to really rock hard brings out those plus higher pitches which gradually fade away as the stone comes to rest, and at times the stone will turn over, setting off a new set of strings and new pitches.
Rather than creating a finished piece for Lois to learn and perform, I have set up the work as an open-ended exploration for her. I have determined the sound sources to be used in each 'phrase', and in performance, she is working with the variations of hand-angle, timing, pressure, etc., and changes which these produce in the sound. I think of this experience as "ear-walking," like a hiker exploring a new landscape and with this piece I am returning to the approach I took with glass, in the Glass Concerts (1966-72).