Prepared Piano

prepared piano is a piano that has had its sound altered by placing external objects (preparations) between or on the strings or on the hammers or dampers. The timbre of the instrument changes dramatically when preparations are introduced.

Minimal Damage - Albert van Veenendaal

My fascination for the prepared piano started several years ago by hearing John Cage's Sonata's & Interludes. This astonishing and beautiful music opened up a completely new and unlimited perspective. Cage's music inspired me to start experimenting myself and over the years I developed various ways of altering the sound of the piano by positioning various objects and gadgets on and between the strings, transforming it into some kind of one-person percussion ensemble. My solo album with improvisations and compositions for prepared piano, Minimal Damage (Evil Rabbit Records #13) contains the results of the  investigation into this intriguing world of sounds. It is a mixture of percussive and lyrical pieces, composed or improvised. And the exploration is ongoing. By playing solo concerts or using prepared set-ups in ensembles and by sharing insights with other pianists, listening to new music etc., new discoveries are made constantly. To be continued!

CD: Minimal Damage - Miniatures for Prepared Piano. Evil Rabbit Records #13
Buy CD: click here
Contact: Albert van VeenendaalWebsite:


Press quotes (for more reviews click here)

Jazzmozaik (Marc van de Walle)
English: This is a fascinating monologue. Through the prepared piano, astonishing sounds and sound combinations are generated and merged. Lyrical themes, african or almost balinese sounding, mesmerizing rhythms and repetitive mechanistic sound fragments are spun out brilliantly and in a well-balanced way. Van veenendaal reveals his soul in this surprising, captivating music that shines like a diamond. 

Nederlands: "Dit is een fascinerende monoloog. Via de geprepareerde piano worden verbluffende klanken en klankcombinaties gegenereerd en gecombineerd. Lyrische thema’s, Afrikaans of zelfs Balinees aandoende, bezwerende ritmes, repetitieve mechanistisch klinkende flarden worden briljant en evenwichtig uitgesponnen. Van Veenendaal maakt zijn ziel zichtbaar in deze muziek, die verrast, boeit, schittert als een 

Remco Takken (freelance journalist)
English: Van Veenendaal makes you believe that a prepared piano a  la John Cage is primarily designed for jazz

Nederlands: Van Veenendaal doet je geloven dat een geprepareerde piano à la John Cage in eerste instantie is ontworpen voor jazz

Jazzflits (Herman te Loo)
English: Van veenendaal's percussive style of playing is perfectly suited for the prepared piano, which is in fact a sort of “one-person percussion ensemble”. playful pieces like 'tear dance' or 'histoire pneumatique' are extremely rhythmical, and invite you to a peculiar dance and on top of it all, van veenendaal has a good ear for curious and catchy melodies. some of the themes keep echoing in your head for quite a while. it makes 'minimal damage' a varied, surprising album that puts the prepared piano on the map for once and for all. in the netherlands and well beyond.

Nederlands: De percussieve pianostijl van Van Veenendaal leent zich perfect voor de prepared piano, die eigenlijk een eenpersoons-slagwerkensemble is. Stukken als het speelse ‘Tear Dance’ of ‘Histoire Pneumatique’ zijn ritmisch sterk, en nodigen uit tot een merkwaardige dans. Van Veenendaal heeft een goed oor voor curieuze, maar catchy melodieën, en sommige thema’s blijven nog lang na-echoën in je hoofd. Het maakt ‘Minimal Damage’ tot een afwisselend, verrassend album dat de prepared piano in Nederland (maar ook ver daarbuiten) voorgoed op de improvisatiekaart zet."

Point of Departure (Stuart Broomer)
[...]  His preference for scalar patterns and single-note lines emphasizes relationships to eastern and African traditions, sometimes setting up polyrhythmic dialogues between his two hands. Veenendaal doesn’t need much time to develop remarkable complexity: “Pirouetteke” is under two minutes and sounds like brilliant hand-drumming on chromatic drums or electronic sound sources. Given his general dedication to the keyboard, Veenendaal‘s occasional forays to the strings are especially noteworthy, as in the piece called “Whales” which mixes string stroking and keyboard thumps in an evocation of animal voices. The only piece credited to another composer is Mingus’s “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” which here sounds oddly like John Cage’s early sonatas for prepared piano. It has the tone of reserved lament with which it’s associated, but there’s also a quality that’s both playful and exotic, the engaging sense of a pan-cultural playground that links it to the other music here.

Freistill (Andreas Fellinger)
Mit gehörigem Schwung entwirft Albert van Veenendaal am präparierten Klavier Klanggebäude erheblichen Ausmaßes. Einfallsreich, und in diesem Einfallsreichtum jederzeit geschmackssicher, stilsicher und standfest – so entsteht ein für experimentelle Verhältnisse erstaunlich kompaktes Album. Veenendaal errichtet ganze 16, durch die Bank stabile Konstruktionen, die gleichzeitig auf spielerische, fragile Elemente nicht verzichten wollen. Eines ist integraler Bestandteil des anderen, beides gehört zusammen. Und ausnahmsweise hat die Groove ihren amtlichen Wohnsitz im Klavier. Auf den ersten Blick ein räumlich eingeengtes (Spiel-)Feld, das sich gleichwohl für allerhand abenteuerliche Expeditionen eignet. Mit minimaler Beschädigung war bei dem Titel zu rechnen. Mit einer Klavierplatte, die auf dermaßen viele, einfallsreich variierte perkussive Bestandteile zurückgreifen kann, wohl nicht.