Several Pieces for Bowed Piano, or; Arcane Spells for Secret Stars

by Cole Bee Wilson

supported by
  • Streaming + Download

    Includes high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Paying supporters also get unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.

      name your price




These are recordings of "Syrus", the bowed piano I built for my artist residency at PlatteForum in Denver Colorado from 01/15-03/15.

I retrieved an upright spinet piano from the free section on craigslist and replaced its hammers and mutes with 57 12 volt 90 rpm Micro-Gear rotary motors fitted with wooden toy car wheels coated in cello rosin. The motors spin the wheels perpendicular to the piano strings causing them to vibrate creating a "bowed" string effect. Each motor sits in a self fabricated cassette equipped with a custom adjustment system designed to dial in the tension between the motors and their corresponding strings. The positive current and ground are divided amongst the piano between two series of copper tubes (copper being a conductive metal). The grounds for each motor are attached to a copper tube fixed to a 12v ground. The motors' positive currents are soldered to strips of electrically conductive tape applied to the corresponding keys, so that when a key is depressed the tape makes contact with the copper tubing. This completes the circuit and powers the motors. Once a key is released the circuit is broken and the corresponding motor turns off. Thus, each motor is independent of the next.

I wrote a number the ideas for these pieces and then cropped them in improvisational explorations.


released March 20, 1985



all rights reserved