Code 80 was commissioned by the Ensemble InterContemporain for Pierre Boulez' 80th birthday celebrations. It was first performed at the Cité de la Musique in Paris.
I have always had problems using the piano in ensemble work in the past, feeling that the piano is out of place in the usual modern ensemble instrumentation: single winds, single brass, piano, percussion and string quintet. This was the imposed instrumentation for this work. In the past, I simply omitted the piano when I was commissioned to write for this line up. When “Code 80” was commissioned, it was time for me to face this problem.
The piano has a very wide pitch range, and also a wide dynamic range. It is therefore easy to imagine the piano as a soloist, accompanied by the rest of the ensemble, as in a mini-concerto. However, this approach is not a solution to the problem, which is how to combine, mix, or blend the piano as one sonority within fifteen. I was also reluctant to treat the piano as pitched percussion, punctuating the entrance of the other instrumental parts. My aim was that the "weight" of the piano part should be totally equal to the other fourteen instrumental parts. To solve this problem, I decided to create material which has a similar timbre to the sound of the piano in order to blend sonorities: pitched percussion instruments such as marimba and vibraphone,and also the pizzicato tremolo by the string instruments.
Dai Fujikura (edited by Harry Ross)