«Analytical and austere, but enlivened with a sly wit» […] «an endearing (or irritating?) self-portrait of a mildly perverse composer.»
(John Cowley in The Wire)
Most music proceeds with great self-assurance, more like an answer than like a question, but these pieces raise questions. We hope you will not only listen to the music as the pairs go by, but we will also want to decide whether they are same or different. Try it. Maybe your musical perceptions are better than you think. And if not, well, no one is going to grade you, and you can always try again!
This situation raises new questions, which Johnson undoubtedly intends to provoke. Is there something like a mistake in music in the first place? Can we speak of «wrong» tones? And what is a mistake? By introducing the piece through a narrative and by setting a task Johnson arrests the audience’s attention, who otherwise, while listening such a minimalist composition, easily would lose his patience. Listening now becomes a playful act with pedagogic connotations. I is a pleasure to listen, because it is fun.