Stefan Prins

Piano Hero 1  (2012)  #8’
pour clavier, électronique et vidéo

In concert
Flash - 03.30 8:


The "modern" grand piano, perfected in the nineteenth century, consists of a keyboard, a set of metal strings and an ingenious mechanism of hammers and dampers, which serves as the transmission between the pianist's muscles and the strings. The wooden body of the piano amplifies the vibrations of the strings when they're hit by a hammer. In Piano Hero this configuration is "updated" and placed in today's context, using some of the typical artefacts of the 21st century: the keyboard now is an electronic one, the computer serves as the transmission and the strings are played by a virtual pianist -the avatar of the pianist of flesh and blood sitting on stage- while the wooden resonating body is substituted by a set of electro-mechanical speakers. But not only the "piano" is recontextualized. The mechanisms of "observing", as done by the audience, is also taken into the equation. The act of "observing" underwent a radical change of meaning in a society which is ever

more being "monitored", either by the millions of security cameras in public places, a network of geo-stationary satellites which can zoom in to human dimensions or the world wide web on which every day millions of homemade videos are posted and watched by millions of anonymous visitors. Piano Hero #1 is the point zero of the Piano Hero cycle: the pianist becomes a mere operator in a world of bits and bytes. From Piano Hero #2 on, the grand piano (which has become a "fremdkörper" after the context-shift of PH#1) enters the game to fully articulate the tension between the real and the virtual, the human and the mechanical, the past and the present. More chapters in this cycle are envisioned and will be composed in the years to come. Piano Hero #1 is commissioned by and dedicated to Frederik Croene. Piano Hero #2 is commissioned by Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and is dedicated to Mark Knoop Further "Piano Heroes" are in process.

Stefan Prins