Whole months were each devoted exclusively to playing toy piano, alto saxophone and trombone
By Mike Shanley
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
The artist/performer known as tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE began 2018 with a productive focus: He decided he’d play music each day and document it on film. The project went on to incorporate all of the instruments packed into his house, which, to name just a few, includes a piano and electric keyboards, ukulele and percussion ranging from drums, glass marimba and wooden frogs. Whole months were each devoted exclusively to playing toy piano, alto saxophone and trombone.
“It wasn’t about me being a virtuoso musician, which I’m not,” he says. “It’s about me picking these objects up and doing things with them. Sometimes I’m good, sometimes I’m not so good. Which is okay.” Every day in June featured a duet with a musician who dropped by what he calls his (M)Usic room or performing via Skype or FaceTime.
The results of the year-long effort can be seen in 365, a 127-minute film that highlights each day’s work chronologically. Some segments get a couple seconds while others go on longer. “As you go through the whole year, it follows a dramatic trajectory,” he explains. “The lighting changes, the clothes that I’m wearing change, the instruments that I’m playing change. The likelihood of a theme appearing, or not appearing, changes because there are times that I’ll play a theme and it’ll mutate throughout different days.”
The film could be considered a work of music in and of itself, but this weekend’s premiere takes it even further.
Sunday, April 7 at exactly noon, the Regent Square Theater hosts tENT— as friends call him — and seven musicians who will accompany the performances in 365. Each player has a breakdown of the scenes as a guide, but what they play is up to them. “The main instructions are that people can’t play more than two scenes at once and can’t play during the scenes that are marked as ‘Do not play’ scenes,” he says, the latter referring to things like the June duets or segments with spoken performances.
tENT, whose bio describes him with terms that include “Mad Scientist/ d-composer/ Sound Thinker” says he enjoyed making the film, “in an obsessive type of way. I am not easily satisfied with what I do. I always feel like I have to up my own ante in order to make It interesting for myself.”
In addition to Sunday’s 365 screening, the Regent Square also presents Stiv: No Compromise, No Regrets, a documentary on Stiv Bators, the late founder of the Dead Boys and Lords of the New Church on Saturday, April 6 at 8 p.m. For more information, call 412-682-4111.