Gordon Monahan - This Piano Thing
  Year :   1989
  Location :   Canada
  Worktype :   Work for solo, amplified, prepared piano in four movements
  Materials:   -
  Info :   1st performance: New Music Vancouver

  Work Details  
  This Piano Thing is, in some ways, an answer to questions and problems raised by my composition Piano Mechanics . These problems deal both with an evolution of piano technique and a redefinition of the piano as a machine for the synthesis of new sounds. When Piano Mechanics is performed live in concert, the unusual acoustical effects emerging from a solo unamplified and unaltered piano form an impression to the audience that some trickery is taking place. In almost every performance of this piece, I have had audience members approach me after the concert to see what processing equipment I was using, or to look for the preparations inside the piano. Of course, no such equipment or preparations existed for this piece. This gave me the idea to compose a piece for the antithesis of this perceptual innuendo: a piece for amplified prepared piano, This Piano Thing. In This Piano Thing, seventy-three notes of the piano are prepared using materials of the traditional preparation repertoire: bolts, screws, broken chopsticks, rubber, weather-stripping, and vibrating nuts and washers. In some instances, medium-size (0.5 cm x 6.0 cm) eyebolts are placed in the strings of adjacent whole tones so that their eyes are barely touching. When either of these whole-tone notes are sounded, a sustained jingling takes place, creating a kind of multi-level mechanical reverb-feedback system, in that a string attack induces further attacks between the eyebolts with the resulting sustained sounds feeding back through the strings to the soundboard. Transducer pick-ups are also placed inside the piano for the purpose of electronic amplification. If pick-ups suspended between the strings and bridge of the piano could loosely be considered a preparation, then augmenting these pick-ups with additional air microphones would be in keeping with a methodology of piano preparation. With the use of pick-ups and close-miking I am able to get right inside the sound of the preparations, to amplify all the jingles, buzzes, and distortions created, and to use the magnification of these extremely close-up sounds as prime sound material on which to focus. When an attempt is made to liberate the piano from the standard keyboard literature, one can arrive at an anti-pianism, and by implication, an anti-musicality. This is a fermentation of Romanticism that leads to a kind of industrial music. ©Gordon Monahan 1989 Accessed 02.07.2007 from http://www.gordonmonahan.com