Eastward Piano

The position of the piano within classical studies is linked to its emblematic role in the history of Western music, as well as with the respective conservatism that derives from this. An alternative approach, having the present as a pillar, causes, therefore, a resurgence of interest in young students, pianists and the audience. The Eastern Piano Project focuses on urban popular and folk repertoires, moving on two inter-dependable axes: the creation of a unique pianistic repertoire, and the development of a performance practice, both of which have identifiable characteristics.

The first pillar extends the repertoire towards a direction that is rich in quantity as well as in variety of artistic expression. The second pillar initiates a new dynamic, since the suggested performance practice diverges from typical pianistic categorizations (classical West, jazz, rock, latin). This dynamic precipitates issues of aesthetic; at the same time, however, introducing itself as a field of peculiar musicological interest. In both cases, it deploys the musical syncretism that stands as a keystone in urban popular and folk repertoires.

The creator of The Eastern Piano Project bears a bifold role, as a performer / artist as well as a musicologist / researcher (see The creator searches for new ways to read, understand and negotiate the manifold musical idioms while having the piano as a pivot, that is, an instrument that is consubstantial to the classical West. The semiology of this choice relates to the intention for de-territorialization and re-signification of old repertoires that have been subject to many reconstructions during the last few decades. This route expands into a new context, environment and aesthetical investment – all of which are directed at the present.

The corpus of the video / audio recordings that result from the above procedure offers prospects for adaptation / arrangement and establishes the foundations for the re-examination and re-determination of terms, such as cover song, following the international musicological trends. A singular pedagogical interest is embodied by this procedure, since, essentially, the original pieces are deconstructed and re-composed, to a great extent during the performance. Such a situation conforms to ‘commentary’ of popular and folk music utilizing modern languages which lead to the development of performance practices as well as of new aesthetical proposals. The understanding and structuring of the formal musical structure through the reconstructed repertoire, renders the modern performance interchangeable; either as a subject of musicological research or as a methodological tool. Certainly, this productive procedure requires the disarming of all kinds of stereotypes, particularly the most simplified dipoles (traditional-modern, East-West, ours-foreign, scholarly-popular) and their canonized archetypes.

The exoneration of popular and folk music works results in the recognition of the core of their existence, which is directly dependent on the condition of the orality that regulates them. Through a scholarly process and from within, the aesthetical status of the popular is recognized, whose aesthetical importance subdues rather than becoming utilized as a tool, or even as an alibi. Nevertheless, what is being contended is a strong interaction between popularity and scholarship – empirical and systematized knowledge.

Finally, the pedagogical implementations of this project are obvious. The main goal is the production of material for practice by understanding the repertoire, which requires special techniques: implementation of modality on the piano; popular rhythms; popular improvisation/taksim; adaptation and expropriation of performance practices, styles and aesthetics of other instruments on the piano. The examination and analysis of the route of the instrument within urban popular repertoires through historical recordings and the research for primary sources of information are an additional goal of this project.