Do you know what’s cooler than playing a musical instrument? Playing friggin’ 20 instruments at the same time.

Ukraine-based indie rock band Brunettes Shoot Blondes wanted to do something different for their newest single “Houston”’s music video, so they took 20 different instruments, crammed them inside an old 19th century grand piano, and fit them in such a way so they could all be playable from the pianist’s side by two people.

Don’t believe me? Check out the music video below:

According to a Thomann blog interview with band singer Andrew Kovaliov, the hollow nature of the grand piano allowed them to split the piano roll into three sections: the central section being the piano itself, the left section for violas, an organ, a xylophone, and a cello, and the right section for percussion instruments.

twenty instruments in one
twenty instruments in one

The central piano section wasn’t drastically changed. Apart from replacing some old strings, swapping the first piano section with bass strings, and moving the sustain pedal more to the left to make room for a second player, the biggest instrument in this ensemble required the least amount of modification.

twenty instruments in one
twenty instruments in one

On the other hand, the left section holding different types of instruments proved the most challenging to integrate. A couple of violins, a harmonica, organ, and cello were all hooked up to a rotating sewing machine mechanism.

In the case of the violins and cello, spinning wheels mimicked a bowstring; so instead of having to add one for every string instrument, the band simply attached smaller wheels to their bodies. While this ultimately limited the number of notes they could play on the instruments to four, it made integrating them into the grand piano much easier.

On the other hand, the left section holding different types of instruments proved the most challenging to integrate. A couple of violins, a harmonica, organ, and cello were all hooked up to a rotating sewing machine mechanism.

In the case of the violins and cello, spinning wheels mimicked a bowstring; so instead of having to add one for every string instrument, the band simply attached smaller wheels to their bodies. While this ultimately limited the number of notes they could play on the instruments to four, it made integrating them into the grand piano much easier.

Likewise, the melodica and organ use the spinning mechanism, but since they use air rather than strings to produce sound, an air pump is connected to these two instruments. For them to work, you have to build up the air in the container in advance before they can warm up and be played.

twenty instruments in one
twenty instruments in one

Unlike the complicated left section, the percussion instruments on the right section use the same mechanism as the central piano section. Modified keys allowed the hammers inside the piano to strike different drums, tambourines, cymbals, and the like.

Shakers were also connected to piano keys but were modified so they could produce sound when the keys were pressed and released. Chimes, on the other hand, were linked to a clothespin and counter-weight mechanism. Whenever a key is pressed, the counter-weight falls and sends a hook to strike the chimes.

twenty instruments in one

Apart from these three sections, additional instruments were added such as a kick drum and hi-hat to help with percussion. These are activated whenever a person presses the piano’s foot pedals. An additional xylophone was placed on the left section, while a metallophone and kalimba were stuck to the piano frame.

To capture each instrument’s sounds, 17 different-sized microphones were placed inside and around the piano. These mics recorded all the sounds simultaneously, and the result is what you hear in the music video.

Author

Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.