30 Inches Wide: A Six-Handed Journey

30 Inches Wide: A Six-Handed Journey

The standard piano bench is generally 30 inches wide and 19 inches high. To compare that with another commonplace item, a classic children’s guitar is approximately 36 inches long from its base to its pegs. In August of 2016, three artists in the Six Hands One Soul! Piano Concert managed to exist in the same space, in front of the same piano, and create something beautiful. It can’t be said for sure whether or not they all sat on the same small bench, but just thinking about the proximity is enough to make any artist shudder. Still, they navigated the keys with ease, perfectly accustomed to the idea of three people – six hands – playing one instrument for nearly three-quarters of an hour.

Many songs are played during the performance, ranging from upbeat and lively to bold and powerful. This is achieved through dexterous harmony, a sort of unspoken communication between the three artists which could only be achieved through hours of practice. Throughout each movement, including a rather difficult cascading crescendo around seventeen minutes in, they seem entirely aware of where each of the six hands are to be placed, but the real feat is in how effortless these motions become after watching them for so long. 

Piano duets are fairly common. It is very easy to find videos that show two people sharing a bench and playing the same keys, often with great ease. It is extremely rare, however, to find any trios who play with the same ease. A quick Google search for any videos involving three pianists come up with few results, and many of these involve three separate pianos in each performance. That is what makes Six Hands One Soul! so incredibly unique. 

The real evidence of practice can be seen each time the artists switch places. It is most obvious in the frontmost musician because they are most visible to the camera, but there are several moments where they must drop their hand to make room for the others as they encroach on the lower keys. Then, as if nothing had happened, the hand places itself back on the keys and they move in harmony back towards the higher keys. There are even a few moments, one which is especially evident at the very end of the performance, where the pianists even overlap their hands as they play. The memory required to achieve something like this is absolutely incredible, and there is definitely a good reason why the audience applauds so openly for them when they have finished.

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    Paulina Korchagin

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