Denman Maroney's pianism is likely to induce panic attacks in a professional piano tuner. Maroney's approach is to mostly ignore the keyboard and primarily play inside the instrument, using copper and rubber bars, plastic jugs, mallets, metal bowls and a potato masher, among other items, to scrape, smash, suspend, bow and dampen the strings. He did all of that Friday night at the University of the District of Columbia in front of a small crowd.
While playing the piano's insides isn't new, Maroney's dedication to extending his predecessors' techniques into his own self-described "hyperpiano" style is formidable.
Maroney began his hour-long solo concert with "Air Condition," a song he performed traditionally. The tune's mixture of Steve Reich-like repetition and classic swing proved Maroney could play conventionally if he wanted to. But he performed "Flux Time," "Artemisia" and "On the Contrary" in his singular style.
The strange but beautiful organized sounds emanating from his instrument during those works variously sounded like fingers being rubbed across a balloon; a harpsichord; a detuned banjo; a broken slide guitar; a creaking gate; a string orchestra; and droning Tibetan bowls. Note to UDC officials: The piano is fine.