The place of the piano within classical studies connects with its emblematic role in the history of Western music, as well as with the respective conservatism that derives from this. An alternative approach, having the present as a lynchpin, causes, therefore, a resurgence of interest in young students, pianists and the audience. The Eastern Piano Project focuses on urban popular repertoires, moving on two inter-dependable axes: the creation of a unique pianistic repertoire, and the development of a performance practice, both of which have identifiable characteristics.
The first lynchpin broadens the repertoire towards a direction that is rich in quantity as well as in variety of artistic expression. The second lynchpin initiates a new dynamic, since the suggested performance practice diverges from typical pianistic categorizations (classical West, jazz). This dynamic provokes issues of aesthetic; at the same time, however, introducing itself as a field of peculiar musicological interest. In both cases, it deploys the musical syncretism that stands as a keystone in urban popular repertoires.
The creator of The Eastern Piano Project bears a two-pronged role, as a performer/artist as well as a musicologist/researcher (see www.ordoulidis.gr). The creator searches for new ways to read, understand and negotiate the manifold musical idioms while having the piano in the centre, that is, an instrument that is consubstantial to the classical West. The semiology of this choice relates to the intention for de-territorization and re-signification of old repertoires that have been subject to many reconstructions during the last few decades. This route expands into a new context, environment and aesthetical investment – all of which are directed at the present.
The corpus of the video/audio recordings that result from the procedure above give a prospect of adaptation/arrangement and establishes the foundations for the re-examination and re-determination of words, such as ‘cover’, following the international musicological trends. This procedure embodies a special pedagogical interest, since, essentially, the original pieces are deconstructed and re-composed, to a great extent during the performance. Such a situation conforms to ‘commentation’ of popular music utilizing modern languages which lead to the development of performance practices as well as of new aesthetical proposals. The understanding and structuring of the musical formal structure through the reconstructed repertoire, places the modern performance sometimes in the place of the object for the musicological research and sometimes in the place of the methodological tool. Certainly, this productive procedure demands the disarming of all kinds of stereotypes, particularly the most simplified dipoles (traditional-modern, East-West, Greek-foreign, scholar-popular) and their canonized archetypes.
The de-incrimination of popular music works results in the recognition of the core of their existence, which is directly dependable on the condition of the orality that regulates them. Through a scholarly process and from within, the aesthetical status of the popular is recognized, whose aesthetical importance subdues rather than becomes utilized as a tool, or even as an alibi. Nevertheless, we are talking about a strong interaction between popularity and scholarity – empirical and systematized knowledge.
Finally, the pedagogical implementations of this project are obvious. The main goal is the production of material for practice by understanding the repertoire, which requires special techniques: implementation of modality on the piano; popular rhythms; popular improvisation/taksim; adaptation and expropriation of performance practices, styles and aesthetics of other instruments on the piano. The examination and analysis of the route of the instrument within urban popular repertoires through historical recordings and the research for primary sources of information are an additional goal of this project.