I’ve been thinking about Conlon Nancarrow recently. His use of the player piano as a compositional device in the 1940’s and 50’s allowed him to imagine piano compositions that no human hands could ever duplicate. In a way, his work predated MIDI sequencing by at least thirty years.
Conlon Nancarrow (October 27, 1912 – August 10, 1997) was a United States-born composer who lived and worked in Mexico for most of his life. He became a Mexican citizen in 1955.
Nancarrow is best remembered for the pieces he wrote for the player piano. He was one of the first composers to use musical instruments as mechanical machines, making them play far beyond human performance ability. He lived most of his life in relative isolation, not becoming widely known until the 1980s.