How pianist Matthew Bourne translates Trim’s grime into piano music
As part of Piano Day – a global Nils Frahm-founded celebration of the instrument – pianist Matthew Bourne and legendary London MC Trim are teaming up for a special collaborative performance of Trim’s music. Here, Bourne outlines the ongoing process behind transposing Trim’s music for an acoustic piano setup.
Some months ago, I was asked by Sofia Ilyas, at FLOAT, if I would like to collaborate with Trim for the forthcoming Piano Day, on March 29. There were doubts (although, certainly not from me), as to whether acoustic piano would have a place within the context of grime. “Why not?”, was my response. Having never delved into the world of grime per se, discovering Trim’s work has been a pleasure. Economy of musical elements is key – and a necessity: as it is the message being conveyed by Trim’s MCing that must take centre stage. For example, in Stretch, the sonic palette is well chosen, controlled, considered. These inherent qualities are what have governed my initial approaches to Trim’s work, ahead of our upcoming rehearsals together.
Much of my transcriptions are in note form/minimal sketches – to which I transpose, turn upside down, experiment with each time I sit down to work with the tracks. The aim is to internalise the music, represent the melodic elements, find my own part within these; and then to stick to it. Sort of. With Waco, the harmonic material transfers very well, particularly in the chorus sections, where I’ve opted for sparse, low-register sonorities:
I am an improviser by habit, and am prone to changing things at the last minute, or less, or without any notice, during the gig. In the context of this particular collaboration, I envisage focusing this characteristic toward the spaces in Trim’s music where there is room to do so.
Using the piano’s interior (in the expanses of Stretch, for example): I envisage using the strings and frame to create harmonics, percussive effects and other sounds that complement the electronic/ambiguous palette of sounds throughout Trim’s album.
There are also a number of places where I will make absolutely no attempt to try and translate things to the piano. Why? Mainly because I’d like this collaboration to be just that, and not an exercise in reducing an album which conveys meaning through spoken word, non-tonal/atmospheric/ambiguous sounds; into an inadequate and reductive, eighty-eight-note piano dentistry. The task at hand here, I would argue, is to listen, absorb, respond; and to try and do the best I can to find my own place within Trim’s musical universe.
Find tickets for Matthew Bourne’s collaboration with Trim here.