Impossible music

Marc-André Hamelin’s piano piece Circus Galop cannot be played by a human. It was not written with humans in mind.

Musées départementaux de la Haute-Saône [CC BY-SA]
A nice short blog post today! Marc-André Hamelin is a Canadian composer known for (among other things) his technically impressive piano works. Three of his pieces were written specifically for a player piano. A player piano – also known as a pianola – is a piano that plays by itself, by the way. The most famous of these pieces is Circus Galop (the mis-spelling is apparently intentional). You can listen to it here, as played on a hundred-year-old player piano:

The piece is fast and frenetic enough to be technically challenging for a human player, but at several points enough notes are being played at the same time to make it impossible for a single pianist to play it. We only have ten fingers, you see.

It’s not entirely impossible, though! One arrangement allows five people – ten hands, one hundred fingers – to perform it together. On one piano, of course. Also it involves blindfolds and juggling balls for some reason:

And if you can deal with some bad language, check out this guy performing Circus Galop on a Guitar Hero-like program called Clone Hero:

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