Jascha Hagen. Alter Piano // 6 Compositions for 12 digitally controlled electromotors inside a grand piano

In the middle of the 20th century, John Cage used rudimentary preparations to turn a piano into an African-sounding percussion instrument. The piano interface Alter Piano tries to turn a piano into a raging ISBN modem. Twelve digitally controlled electric motors on twelve metal arms inside a grand piano transform the instrument into a screeching and sawing monster. 

At the same time, the question of the relationship between man and machine, between instrument and player piano, is constantly renegotiated by the different interactions with the motor interface. During the 45 min long performance, the two performers change roles repeatedly – they become dispensable by the machine, they serve and tune it, or otherwise ignore the machine and get into direct physical contact with the piano strings.

Four microphones above and below the piano microscope the sound in this process, transforming the piano into an electroacoustic object and the piano frame into its three-dimensional environment.

Jascha Hagen is a composer and musician based in Berlin. He studied electroacoustic composition with Prof. Robin Minard and Prof. Maximillian Marcoll at the HfM in Weimar. His work focuses on acousmatic instrumental compositions and performances with prepared instruments. The piano as a sound object has been the main focus of his work for several years. His composition “Music For Metal Strings” won the 2nd prize in the Via Nova composition competition in 2018. The conception and realization of the piano interface Alter Piano was supported by the graduate scholarship of the HfM in Weimar and the STIP-III by the Musikfonds.