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The Inside-Out Piano is an ongoing project which I began in 2008.  I am trying to see if we can build a piano for the future which enables pianists to play ‘inside piano’ more easily – strumming strings, plucking, knocking, ‘preparing’ the strings with nuts and bolts – whilst allowing the audience to see this extra dimension without having to strain to catch a reflection of the grand piano lid.

My idea was simple: change the shape of the piano!  But having had the idea, and two prototypes in, it is still some way to being a piano of the future…  In 2008, the first prototype was born from an old upright we got for free (it was already on its way to the tip, like so many pianos around the world).  In a squat studio in Liverpool, we took it apart with hammers and then hung the soundboard from the ceiling.  I then thought about how it could work and asked a chap who normally welded doors for ships to make me a steel frame.  See the piano here…

After several years of playing this back-to-front piano and completely re-engaging with making my own music (no-one else wanted to write for a keyboard that made no sense!), I was able to commission Pierre Malbos to make the second prototype.  And this was a different scale: an old French Erard from the turn of the century, a lovely but very old and dying instrument which we have breathed new life into!  He turned the strings 90 degrees, to make the most majestic and monolithic piano I’ve ever seen.  And, to my total amazement, in responding to my need that I be able to move it to its upright position myself (2.5m tall), he and his friend created a frame system whereby the piano is pivoted…  so it can swing!  When I discovered this, I felt immediately it needed to be the centre of a theatre show and so was born Moments of Weightlessness.  See this piano in the building here…