Nearly every analog instrumentalist is in close contact with the sounding component of her instrument: plucking strings, drawing bows, forcing air through some sort of piping. A notable exception is the pianist, who hits a key that works a lever, that drops a hammer, that sounds a string -- a process befitting Rube Goldberg himself.
Berlin's Magda Mayas, however, sees beyond the convoluted mechanics to the heart of the machine. The improv artist, a member of the trio No Triangle, principally employs what is called "inside-piano" techniques: directly manipulating the strings inside the instrument's cavernous body.
The alienation of the pianist may seem like overwrought Marxist musical analysis, but there's a practical payoff to Mayas' approach: a physical aspect more in line with percussive noise and improv acts than most piano playing. In essence, inside-piano performance tames one of our most convoluted musical machines for the purposes of minimalist percussion, one of our most primal musical methods.
Joining Mayas in No Triangle is regular collaborator Anthea Caddy, a cellist who splits her time between Berlin and Melbourne, Australia, and Annette Krebs, an electronics and prepared-guitar player. The sounds the trio produces are often "music" only in an extended sense. Rhythm isn't wholly absent, but surely takes a back seat to more cerebral interpretations of sound -- interpretations based on texture and a directional, almost narrative flow.
They appear at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium at the University of Pittsburgh on Wed., Jan. 28, along with local noise artist Margaret Cox. The show is co-sponsored by CP contributor Manny Theiner and Music on the Edge.
No Triangle with Margaret Cox. 9:30 p.m. Wed., Jan. 28. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, Pitt campus, Oakland. $10. 412-361-2262