Is your piano dirty? Here’s an ‘Etude for cleaning your keyboard’

22 January 2018, 17:03

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

This is a relatively new work from a Finnish composer, which involves wiping the piano keys with a rag at the same time as playing. It’s great if your keyboard is looking a little on the mucky side.

The piano étude’s real name is Dichotomie, and it was composed in the year 2000 by Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Here, pianist Aura Go plays the first movement, ‘Mécanisme’. It’s not an easy play by any means – mainly because it has over two pages of glissandi, which are intended to imitate the workings of an imperfect machine.

But rather than playing the glissandi with the back of her thumb or fingers, as indicated in the score, Aura plays them with a cloth, simultaneously cleaning the keys of her concert grand.

“It was my idea to play it with cloth, and was the result of some experimentation,” says Aura.

“The score gives the starting and ending points of the glissandi, and as you can see the sheer amount of glissandi, their dynamic and their often being on black keys creates the challenge.

“Some other pianists get around this by wearing fingerless gloves either for the entire piece, or by slipping on a glove in a brief rest before the glissandi start. I tried using a glove but wasn’t comfortable with it – I have very small hands, and the glove would fall off as I played the glissandi with my palms.

“So I started using a cloth during practice while I was thinking of other creative ways to solve the problem, and realised that the results were starting to be quite effective that way. I was able to find the right speed and angle using the cloth.

“So almost by accident, my solution was found!”

For more of Aura’s great work, you can watch the full video here, and find her on Facebook here.