And you could call it a three ring circus the way this piano is played.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Even Beethoven probably wouldn't have dreamed that a single piano could sound like this.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: It takes ten people standing around a piano to make this sound. They need fishing line, popsicle sticks, tongue depressers, and rubber plumbing tape. Mooney Culasinge(ph) is one of those people, and he says when you play it, it looks like a team of surgeons performing an operation.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. MOONEY CULASINGE: And here it is just exposed, like the guts. And then we're beating on it.

I guess you could say it's a very visceral sort of experience to play it and to watch it being played.

MONTAGNE: The inventor of this group approach to playing the piano is Stephen Scott.

Mr. STEPHEN SCOTT (Musician): The primary sound is produced by a bow made of nylon fish line, which is rosined.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SCOTT: And that's just threaded under the string and then drawn across it. There's another kind of bow, which is a stick of wood which has horse hair affixed to it, and that's rubbed against the string to make a very short, percussive sound.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: Stephen Scott has a name for a piano when it's played this way. He calls it a bowed piano. For the past 30 years, he's been exploring, obsessing over, and creating music. Music like this piece, "Vikings of the Sunrise."

(Soundbite of "Vikings of the Sunrise")

MONTAGNE: "Vikings of the Sunrise" and a new world premiere by Stephen Scott are featured this week as part of the American Composer's Festival in Orange County, California. To see Scott's band of 10 musicians playing the bowed piano and other musical surprises, go to our music website at

(Soundbite of music)

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from