A fixture of both classical and modern music, the piano has been around since the early 1700s, and its predecessors, the harpsicord and clavichord, for much longer. Originally invented because it was able to produce more varied tones and volumes than what came before, it revolutionized music. However, it was only recently that the way a piano could be played was re-imagined, giving it far more tones… and in some cases, bringing into question whether it is even still a piano.
For our first sonic example, we bring you Volker Bertelmann, aka Hauschka, and artist hailing from Dusseldorf, Germany. Using his piano with objects like ping-pong balls, tinfoil and leather placed on the strings, his music sounds more like an entire collection of instruments rather than just one man.
Next David Greilsammer sets up a piano for a performance of Sonata V by John Cage for “Prepared Piano.” He precisely measures and locates nuts and bolts to dramatically change the tone and sustain of the piano, giving it a staccato beat all its own.
Using piano hammers and a dulcimer bow, Diego Stocco plays haunting, dissonant music on a disassembled piano, old zithers and some wind chimes.
If you thought some of these other videos were cheating, pulling the piano apart or modifying it with other parts, here’s a performance using only hands and strings. Amy Briggs plays David Rakowski’s 13th piano etude (inside the piano).
Here taking piano deconstruction to the extreme, Diego Stocco, combines a dis-assembled piano keyboard with an electric bass he had lying around for a completely unique sound. Using looping of multiple tracks and excellent video editing, he plays a far out spagetti western-inspired track that sounds a bit like the Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus‘.