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PianOrquestra: Many keys, but none open up Cage

Sonic Arts research Centre

Rathcol

PianOrquestra is an unusual ensemble to say the least.

Brazilian in origin, it consisted of two pianos, 16 hands, a degree of electro acoustic sound diffusion, and the odd other instrument.

The core of the programme focused on the compositional technique of American experimentalist John Cage and, in particular, his music for prepared piano. Cage used various physical inserts in the piano strings and mechanism to create a series of sounds which represented an entirely new approach to the instrument.

The relatively large audience appeared engrossed by the sometimes colourful, sometimes incomprehensible imagery, pithy, Webern-like brevity of expression, the hypnotic repetitiveness and seeming randomness of the sounds.

It was not necessarily music for the initiated but it was not always engaging at a less than academically intellectual level.

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