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  Tom Johnson
The Chord Catalogue
all the 8178 chords possible in one octave

  1. the 78 two-note chords
  2. the 286 three-note chords
  3. the 715 four-note chords
  4. the 1287 five-note chords
  5. the 1716 six-note chords
  6. the 1716 seven-note chords
  7. the 1287 eight-note chords
  8. the 715 nine-note chords
  9. the 286 ten-note chords
  10. the 78 eleven-note chords
  11. the 13 twelve-note chords
  12. the 1 thirteen-note chord

"[A] transcendental experience....Johnson is the only pianist who can make his way through the dizzying multiplicity of colors present in the equal-tempered scale. Resonances in the space, and excitations in the ears, caused sheer psychedelic perceptions, that well surpassed the simple combinations game."

Excerpts from the liner notes by Tom Johnson:
I like to think of The Chord Catalogue as a sort of natural phenomenon--something which has always been present in the ordinary musical scale, and which I simply observed, rather than invented. It is not so much a composition as simply a list. I have often tried to explain that my music is a reaction against the romantic and expressionistic musical past, and that I am seeking something more objective, something that doesn't express my emotions, something that doesn't try to manipulate the emotions of the listener either, something outside myself.

"Extreme and, one would think, extremely simple. A lesser man would have arranged those 8178 chords in some symphonically meaningful, or else quasi-random order, but Johnson proceeded methodically up the chromatic scale from two notes at a time, three, four, so on to 13....By the time we reached 10-note chords, the information overload was such that differences were hardly perceptible, a situation reminiscent of serial music. Far from being heavy-handed minimalism, The Chord Catalogue was a pointed lesson in music history and the relativity of perception."

Tom Johnson composed The Chord Catalogue in 1986 and has performed it numerous times around the world since then. This is the first recording. The score consists of a set of verbal instructions and is included in the CD booklet.

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