Playing Hair

New York Magazine, March 16, 2008.

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When Nico Muhly debuted a new piece of music at the Kitchen on March 7, he introduced a new instrument: the beautiful blonde. The composer teased, shook, and combed three women’s hair according to the score, below, while violist Nadia Sirota simultaneously performed the piece as a looped-track solo.

1. “The piece starts with my rustling the hair while Nadia does these wispy trills. It’s like playing with somebody’s hair to wake them up.”

2. “This is meant to be like the ehru, the Chinese violin that’s always played in the subway that’s like, “˜Waaaaah!’ It’s like the soundtrack to Grand Street.”

3. “This is a new kind of notation Nadia and I invented, where she uses too much bow pressure. By the end of the piece she turns back into a regular violist.”

4. “I am so amazed that [set designer] Shoplifter found three girls who would let me tease their hair aggressively. The idea was to puff out the hair so by the sixth repetition, these crazy buns stood there for the rest of the show.”

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