Instruments | Player Piano | Modern Era | Classical
The player piano (usually known by one of its manufacturers’ trade names as the ‘pianola’) was a mechanical device for causing the piano to play a fixed composition in a fixed way. The music has been cut into a roll of paper and when this is fed through a mechanism built into the specially designed piano, a bellows system causes the keyboard to be automatically played. The score of Ballet mécanique (1924–26) by George Antheil (1900–59) was intended to be for an astonishing 16 synchronized player pianos and performed accompanying a film. As things turned out, the link with the film was abandoned and the resulting score was merely for eight pianos, one player piano, four xylophones, two electric bells, two propellers, tam tam, four bass drums and a siren. However, it is the American composer Conlon Nancarrow (1912–97) who devoted his career to the player piano, composing directly on to piano rolls, by means of a specially developed punching machine. This approach enabled him to explore complex rhythmic and temporal textures which lie beyond the capacities of a pianist.
Styles & Forms | Modern Era | Classical
Instruments | Dynaphone | Modern Era | Classical
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