Those little felt-covered things that strike the strings in piano are known as hammers, but they definitely couldn’t drive a nail. Musician Mattias Krantz wanted to see what would happen if he replaced all 88 of the piano hammers with real metal hand tools. The resulting sound is surprisingly pleasant and melodic.
THE BEST Pianos
Last time we checked in with musician Mezerg, he was playing the watermelon. This time, he performs on a more conventional instrument – though Voël Martin rigged up this upright piano with an electronic circuit and pumps that dispense a variety of juices and liquor to make a custom cocktail based on the notes he plays.
When you want to show off how fast you can play, the go-to choice for many musicians is Flight of the Bumblebee. We’ve heard the tune played on all kinds of instruments, but never on a toy piano. Listen as Hayato “Cateen” Sumino lets his fingers fly across the tiny ivories, gradually increasing his speed to an insane 250 BPM.
Lord Vinheteiro has always impressed us with his piano playing (and deadpan staring) abilities. But can he maintain his composure as he plays a concert of classics from Debussy, Mozart, Beethoven, and others while his piano sits in the back of a moving pickup truck?
The kalimba is a small musical instrument that’s played by thumping your fingers on its springy metal keys. But the same idea can be DIYed using a bunch of popsicle sticks, screwed in place at varying lengths along a board. Mr. Mash shows off his homemade instrument, along with an abridged version of his how-to video.
David Klavins builds musical instruments unlike any other. Combining design elements from upright and concert grand pianos, he builds modern, vertically-oriented instruments, including the world’s tallest piano, measuring 15 feet tall. Great Big Story went inside of Klavins’ workshop for a demo of these impressive pianos.
Techmoan checks out another unusual gadget from the past – though this one only dates back to 2007. For a brief period of time, videogame company SEGA’s toy division made a pricey miniature grand piano with mechanical keys that move in time with the music. You could also play it yourself – if your fingers were really tiny.
Digital musical instrument maker Roland introduces us to Jong Chan Kim, who came up with a hypermodern design for a grand piano. Since digital pianos don’t depend on acoustic properties, he was able to come up with this futuristic low-poly design. The Facet has powerful speakers built into its base, and a flat screen for sheet music.
You can spend a few hundred bucks on a used upright piano, or hundreds of thousands or more on a concert grand. So what’s the difference? Musician Vinheteiro decided to play the same passage of music on six pianos of escalating values to see if we could tell them apart. Once we got past $50,000, we had trouble.
Rescue & Restore found an old metal toy piano rusting away in a barn, then carefully disassembled it, satisfyingly sandblasted off the rust, powder-coated it, and cleaned and restored its mechanism – which was basically a xylophone with keys. The resulting restoration is quite impressive.
Ukrainian band Brunettes Shoot Blondes found an old, broken down grand piano, and decided to partially gut it, filling its innards with a variety of analog instruments, mechanically connected to its keys. The resulting sound on their track Houston is remarkably rich and full.
LEGO Ideas contributor Sleepy Cow created this 2,798 piece model of a grand piano which features 25 working keys, complete with strings, pedals, and dampers. It doesn’t actually play music, but it’s still a mechanical marvel. If you’d like to see it produced, vote here.
Unlike other player pianos, the Arpeggio is a self-contained robot which can drive up to the keyboard and pedals on a regular piano, and perform in place of a human pianist, replicating the most intricate and nuanced elements of a previously-recorded performance.
Pianist and composer Nikolai Kapustin is known for his unique virtuoso pieces, which fuse the playful chaos of jazz with the perfectionist stamp of classical music. Pianist Dimitry Masleev demonstrates Kapustin’s music in this first-person performance of Toccatina Op. 40.