The Piano as a Possibility

Austin and I went to see The Amazing Spiderman last night. I loved it! There’s a really intense scene where Gwen Stacey is hiding from the Lizard, who is prowling around menacingly. His menace is underscored not by screechy violins, but by the eerie sound of piano strings being strummed.

It’s fascinating what one can do with a piano. It’s not only a set of keys; it’s a big wooden box filled with tightly strung metal strings. Oh, the possibilities! One of the first composers to make use of the piano strings as a separate instrument was Henry Cowell. I love that guy. The Banshee is one of his creepier string-piano pieces, based on Irish Myth.

But there are many other things you can do with the piano! For instance, you may have been tempted to smash several keys at once just to hear what it sounds like. Henry Cowell did this on purpose and called it ‘art.’ This piece is inspired by Cowell’s impression of Times Square, New York. She starts using her fists to  about halfway through, just keep watching.

If you think this stuff is weird and irrelevant, just listen to this song by Switchfoot. There’s some piano pounding going on at the fifty-six second mark: