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A Curvy New Piano Gets Its Debut

Maene-Viñoly Concert Grand Piano
Hand-out/Rafael Viñoly Architects
Rafael Viñoly Architects
Maene-Viñoly Concert Grand Piano

Another roundup of surprising music stories, including a piano's radical redesign, a Pakistani song with 270 million YouTube views, and colored pencils transforming into a guitar.

Everyone’s screen time goes up when it gets this hot. It’s OK. If you’re a guitar lover, you could rack up a few hours getting to know YouTuber Burls Art.

His YouTube channel features guitars he’s made from paper, coffee beans, mirrors... he's even made one from salt! But I think his recent guitar made out of 2,000 colored pencils is pretty wonderful:

Building a Guitar Out of 2000 Colored Pencils

And by the way, if you've ever wondered whether electric guitars get a voice in modern concert music, you should check out the innovative and haunting ways that composer/guitarist Steven Mackey uses them. Here's his intensely driven piece Physical Property with the Kronos Quartet:

Kronos Quartet ft. Steven Mackey - Physical Property (1992 )

Our good friends down the hall at the public radio show The World just did a report on a new, irresistible song by Pakistani musician and Harvard alum Ali Sethi. “Pasoori” has been analyzed in The New Yorker, it’s shown up on the hit TV series Ms. Marvel, and now it’s racked up some 270 million YouTube views. The story of two lovers yearning for one another while forbidden to meet is about as old as time. But it’s one that will forever reverberate with personal and even political meaning.

Coke Studio | Season 14 | Pasoori | Ali Sethi x Shae Gill

Well, we’ll always be grateful to Bartolomeo Cristofori for coming up with a most excellent invention back in the 1600’s: the piano! I'm sure he'd be fascinated to learn about the many transformations it’s undergone over time. And while it may seem as though we’ve reached perfection with the modern nine-foot beauty that can whisper and roar and everything in between, the truth is that people are still coming up with new ideas. Legendary conductor/pianist Daniel Barenboim recently patented a new design that keeps the strings from crossing over one another.

And now there’s the Maene-Viñoly Concert Grand. Renowned architect and amateur pianist Rafael Viñoly thought it would be helpful if the keyboard could be curved to match the natural arc of a pianist’s arms as they rotate from the shoulder to reach the upper and lower regions of the instrument. He and master piano maker Chris Maene worked with an Italian professor of medicine and biology as well as some famous pianist friends to come up with a whole new instrument. And on July 19th, Kirill Gerstein gave it its first spin in public at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland. (If you've subscribed to, you have till October to see the recital.)

Cathy Fuller is a Host and Producer for CRB.