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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

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 NPR.org/music.

(Soundbite of music)

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