Montag, 27. Oktober 2008

Inside the PIANO - By Bill Shoemaker

Inside the PIANO

FOR MORE THAN 75 YEARS, pianists and composers thinking outside the box have gone inside the piano for new sounds. As early as 1923, Henry Cowell wrote pieces where damper-released strings are plucked and strummed. By 1938, John Cage had created the first prepared-piano pieces, in which nuts, bolts and other objects were inserted between specific strings to create percussive timbres when keyed. Successive waves of composers expanded the methodologies. Beginning in the ’70s, George Crumb excited strings with various objects, separately and in tandem with conventional keyboarding. In the ’80s, Stephen Scott (not the Sonny Rollins-affiliated pianist) crowded as many as nine people around a single grand piano, each using pocket-sized bows made with fishing line. In the ’60s, jazz pianists as varied as Keith Jarrett and Sun Ra began to go inside the piano for momentary exotica. - By Bill Shoemaker - Photograph by Detlev Schilke