BYU Today

Playing Outside the Box


Bowed PianoWhat looks like piano surgery is actually a contemporary technique known as “bowed piano” that involves playing the piano from the inside out. BYU associate professor Scott L. Holden taught the concept to his contemporary-music class, and when several students showed interest, they decided to try it. They formed a 10-student ensemble, took the lid off a Steinway concert grand, and used rosined fishing line “bows,” guitar picks, rubber erasers, tongue depressors, and mallets to create an otherworldly orchestra, complete with string and percussion sections. The group performed twice winter semester. Those who have heard the bowed piano agree it’s difficult to describe, though student ensemble member Robert B. Sowby (’12) says simply that it “opens up the piano—quite literally—to a new palette of sounds.”

Watch a BYU bowed-piano performance of Stephen Scott’s Entrada (7 minutes, 34 seconds).

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