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Stephen Scott



Traditionally, pianos make sounds when a musician depresses a key, activating a hammer which strikes a string and produces a sound. The technique of bowed piano cuts out the middlemen, so to speak: musicians coax sounds directly from the strings, bowing them as if the piano were any other stringed instrument. This approach is similar to the prepared piano technique heard in John Cage work, in which items are attached to or inserted across a piano's strings.

Composer Stephen Scott's bowed piano technique employs rosined horsehair-covered Popsicle sticks instead of nylon bows. The resulting sound has the resonance and harmonic properties of stringed instruments like the cello. When several musicians play the same bowed piano at the same time, it sounds something like a cross between a violin and an accordion.

While the intricate, orchestral pieces on New Music For Bowed Piano may sound digitally processed, they were all recorded "live," as they might be heard in concert. Ten members of the Colorado College New Music Ensemble -- Including Scott -- perform Rainbows, I by simultaneously hovering around and bowing the exposed strings of a grand piano. The result is beautiful but deceptively simple, an innovative approach to a familiar musical instrument.

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