Meet The Percussion Family

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If the piano is a legitimate member of the percussion family, then it most certainly gets strange looks at reunions. This week on Hammered! we're embracing this familial black sheep and showcasing composers that utilize the piano for what it is: a percussion instrument.

We'll cover the whole piano-as-percussion gamut, beginning Monday with a piece originally written for percussion, Steve Reich's Music For Pieces Of Wood. In this striking arrangement made and performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, the four parts of the original piece are assigned four different pitches and overdubbed. On the same day we have a special guest introduction by Jacob Ter Veldhuis (AKA Jacob TV) of a piece he wrote called Toccata where, as he colorfully describes, the pianist performs with his nose.

Other highlights: we have the Q2 premiere of Bela Bartok's extraordinary Sonata For Two Pianos and Percussion, which is good counter-evidence to Bartok enthusiasts that insist the Hungarian composer is not synonymous with twentieth century percussive piano playing. Also, tune in Wednesday for a live performance from the 2009 Bang On A Can Music Marathon by composer/pianist Moritz Eggert of his piece One Man Band, which in addition to slapping, spanking and scratching the piano, asks the performer to whistle, stomp and yell. Not to be missed.

Lastly, and rounding out this piano-percussion exploration, is a Friday show devoted entirely to the seminal Sonatas and Interludes by John Cage, who is widely credited with inventing the prepared piano. These are stunning and evocative works where Cage uses a collection of office and kitchen supplies to turn the piano into a full-on percussion setup.

Ever seen a pianist play with his nose? Stream JacobTV's Toccata above and see pianist Kees Wierenga perform it below.