“Inhumanly fast arpeggios and chords requiring more than ten fingers to play”: Kelly Moran duets with a Disklavier and goes beyond the “physical limits” of a human piano player on her new project

Moves in the Field finds the Warp Records artist pushing the boundaries of piano composition through the use of a self-playing Yamaha Disklavier

Pianist and electronic artist Kelly Moran has announced the release of a new album due out March 29th on Warp Records. Moves in the Field is a series of duets for Moran and the Yamaha Disklavier, a self-playing acoustic piano that can be programmed via MIDI or record and play back multiple performances simultaneously.

While Moran’s earlier work used a transacoustic piano to explore a mixture of prepared piano techniques, synthesis and experimental electronics, Moves in the Field shifts its focus to the natural sound of the acoustic piano.

Over the album’s ten tracks, Moran used the Disklavier to write and record complex, layered parts that would be impossible to play; the music features “inhumanly fast arpeggios”, chords that require more than ten fingers, and other parts that exceed the physical limits of a single performer. 

“In early 2020, Yamaha loaned me a Disklavier player piano – a special instrument that allows you to record your performance for the piano to play back on its own,” Moran says in a statement. “When the pandemic hit, the player piano became my duet partner. I began writing a series of duets for myself and the Disklavier, exploring all the different ways I could utilize this instrument to merge its inhuman capabilities with my own playing. 

“The Disklavier allowed me to record multiple layers of my playing so I could create music on the piano that would require more fingers or greater endurance than I physically have – like chords that had more than 10 notes in them, or chords that were spaced out farther than my hands could stretch. Sometimes I’d record a pattern and then speed it up to play back faster than I could ever physically play. 

“My imagination exploded at all the possibilities this instrument allowed me to create, and these explorations culminated in my new record Moves in the Field.”

Inspired by both contemporary classical and experimental electronica, the project was mixed and recorded by Dan Bora, Philip Glass’ sound engineer, who aimed to produce “as close to a carbon copy of Moran’s performance as humanly possible”. Moves in the Field was mastered by Telefon Tel Aviv’s Joshua Eustis. 

Watch the video for Butterfly Phase below.