After the Rain: The music

01 September 2011 | By Behind Ballet

The Australian Ballet is home to some of the country’s most talented pianists. Principal Pianist and Music Librarian Stuart Macklin, who plays the piano parts in our British Liaisons program, talks about the unusual sounds you’ll hear in After the Rain©.

The music in After the Rain© is by Arvo Pärt. It consists of two pieces of music – one is just string orchestra and what’s called prepared piano. A prepared piano is a piano that’s had things done to it. And that can range from all sorts of things, like stuffing cabbages in it, to bits of rubber, or wood … In this case it’s reasonably easy – it’s about 20 or so very small bolts, that obviously have ridges, so you can screw something onto them. You just separate two of the strings and you screw this bolt in between. But when you play the notes with the bolts on them, it’s like a Balinese gong effect. It’s pitched, because you still get the pitch of the string, but it has this interesting ringing sensation. [Pärt] also writes other chords, which are for notes that haven’t got the bolt, so you get a really loud ordinary big piano sound out of it, and then this atmospheric gonging business in between.

This text was taken from The Piano, a podcast which examines the special role of a pianist in a ballet company, and in which Stuart Macklin talks about pretending to be an orchestra and chasing dancers with a butterfly net. Want to hear that gong sound? British Liaisons will be playing until 3 September in Melbourne.

On the 25th of September, Kawai, our official piano partner, is offering pianos used in dancer rehearsals for sale at a heavily reduced price. All pianos carry a warranty. The Australian Ballet’s Music Department will benefit from a percentage of the sales. The sale will be held from 10am to 3pm at The Australian Ballet Centre: Level 5, 2 Kavanagh Street, Southbank, Melbourne.