Sounds

Bowed Piano

by Soniccouture

What happens when you take a perfectly good instrument–one that's been around for hundreds of years–and completely rethink it? The bowed piano technique involves flexible bows made from monofilament nylon fishing line, coated in rosin.

In-depth

What happens when you take a perfectly good instrument--one that's been around for hundreds of years--and completely rethink it? The bowed piano technique involves flexible bows made from monofilament nylon fishing line, coated in rosin. The nylon is threaded under the piano's strings, and the performer can coax a sustained tone from the piano. The resulting sound is organic, shape-shifting, massive, foreboding yet delicate. The sound of the Bowed Piano is incredibly versatile, very musical and completely unique. It seems to strike a middle ground somewhere between a synthesizer pad and a stringed instrument and manages to sound like neither. It is a sound that adds space and movement to a composition and brings a magical, shimmering high end and baleful, evocative character.

The Soniccouture Bowed Piano instrument was recorded using a nine-foot Baldwin Grand, a model popular with bowed piano practitioners. A matched pair of Bruel & Kjaer microphones was used to capture every detail of the sound. Each key has alternate samples to prevent repetition of attack transients, and there are three articulations per key: normal bowing, hard bowing and short, staccato bows. The normal and hard samples are looped long, for infinite sustain.

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