HOW I HAPPENED TO WRITE “SKETCHES FOR PIANO”
(Presumably requested by his publisher)
“How did I happen to write SKETCHES FOR PIANO?
–It was on a recent canoe trip through the steaming jungles of the Padhong Peninsula, where I was collecting ancient Padhongian wedding and funeral music, and recording the authentic mating cries of the great, blue-crested Mynah birds (which sing in both major and mynah keys), when I was set upon by a fierce tribe of head hunters! Quickly I snatched up some old crocodile bones, and beating on the trunk of a convenient bongo tree, I played a few simple poly-rhythms (like 9/8 against 3/4, 5/2 against 18/1, 102/32, etc.), with a concluding flourish of syncopated grace notes.
This so delighted these musical people that they begged me to send them a gross of pianos–so that they could make beautiful music of their own. This I agreed to do. I also promised them that if playing the piano became too knotty a problem to unRavel, I would come Bach to help them Handle it. And so, as I said goodbye to these people at the end of the day, and as my canoe sank slowly it the West, it occurred to me that they would need some music book to play when their pianos arrived. It was then that the idea of writing SKETCHES FOR PIANO came to me.”