David Maranha

Piano Suspense

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Experimental musicians have a fascination with the piano. The instrument's ubiquitous musical presence belies its complex, compound nature. With its external keys and internal tunings, the piano belongs to both the string and percussive families. If the keyboard is "prepared" with foreign objects, in the manner made famous by John Cage, the piano becomes a source of curious mechanical rattles and razzes. Bypass the keyboard entirely, and one finds a harp laid on its side--an instrument that invites creative employment of bows, mallets, fingers, and similar sound-provoking implements.

David Maranha is a member of Osso Exotico, a Portugese project that reinterprets ancient and modern musical instruments. For PIANO SUSPENSO, a solo performance presented at Troy, New York's iEAR space during a 1998 Electronic Art festival, Maranha reduces his piano to a stringed frame. He coaxes a melisma of shimmering, shivering timbres that multiply and evolve, using only a violin bow and four motors to "excite" the piano strings. The motors generate rich overtone drones, atop which Maranha's fastidiously bowed harmonics skate and skitter. With this riveting, 71-minute recording, Maranha honors such string-stroking pioneers as Arnold Dreyblatt and Paul Panhuysen while making his own mark in the theater of dreamy sonics.