Posted: Apr 19, 2009
La Mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires même. Erratum Musical (The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors Even. Erratum Musical) belongs to the series of notes and projects that Duchamp started to collect in 1912 and which led to the Large Glass. It was neither published nor exhibited during Duchamp's life. There are many notes and projects, each dealing with a different task. They are difficult material to work with, as there are no comments or explanations by Duchamp to assist with interpretation. Like many of them The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors Even. Erratum Musicalis unfinished and leaves many questions unanswered. Even so, it provides enough information for a successful realization.
There are two parts to the manuscript. One part contains the piece for a mechanical instrument. The piece is unfinished and is written using numbers instead of notes, but Duchamp very clearly explains the meaning of those numbers, which makes it very easy to transcribe them into notes. He also indicates the instrument(s) on which it should be performed: "player piano, mechanical organs or other new instruments for which the virtuoso intermediary is suppressed." the second part contains a description of the compositional system. Duchamp's title for the system is: An apparatus automatically recording fragmented musical periods.
The apparatus composing the piece is comprised of three parts: a funnel, several open-end cars, and a set of numbered balls. Each number on a ball represents a note (pitch) -- Duchamp suggested 85 notes according to the standard range of a piano of that time; today, almost all pianos have 88 notes. The balls fall through the funnel into the cars passing underneath at various speeds. When the funnel is empty, a musical period is completed.