Chromotoy Three Sketches for toy piano, tines and soundwheel by Christina Oorebeek

Christina Viola Oorebeek

Chromotoy I.2 Three Sketches for Schoenhut Toy Grand Piano (2013)

Toy Piano Tines, Soundwheel and Elecx

Soundwheel with playing implements






Chromotoy is my word for the many-colored sounds to be made with the 12 tones of our harmonic world on keyboard instruments. Solid sound colors, blended colors, primary and pastel colors unifying what we hear and see in the eye and ear.

“Chromotoy I.2” is the third piece in a trilogy for acoustic and electronic keyboards and small percussion instruments. “Chromotoy II” is written for Yamaha Disklavier, live sampling and improvisation by the performer. “Chromotoy III” is for acoustic grand piano, toy grand piano and a midi toy piano, which uses samples of toy piano or piano harmonics.

“Chromotoy I.2 – Three Sketches” was first performed at the rainy days festival in Luxemburg in 2012 with Phyllis Chen performing on the Schoenhut Toy Grand Piano,Toy Piano tines and Soundwheel and live electronics performed by the composer. For the 2013 Uncaged Toy Piano Festival, I am working on a new version of the piece, which uses the same instrumentation, but pre-recorded sounds. Composing these sounds is an interesting and challenging process. The live sampling and electronics of the first version gives the performers space for freedom of timing and interaction, but the new version allows for more precision and design, in the sense of form and balance. Wheels spinning new sounds seem to be a sub-category of the unusual instruments used in, the Uncaged Toy Piano Festival 2013. The wheel that I use and have named the Soundwheel, is a unicycle mounted on a stand played with invented implements.

Leaving off the pedals of the unicycle makes it easy to turn the wheel with one hand. Tines are the second instrument in this piece, along with the Toy Grand Piano:

Tines.1 free-standing iron rods which produce the sound of a Toy Piano, whenstruck by plastic hammers. This set was gutted from a 25key Schoenhut Toy piano and mounted on an amplified wooden wine box.

Tines.2 tines functioning normally inside of the 37key Toy Grand Piano. Unifying gestures of “Chromotoy I.2 – Three Sketches” are the glissandi on Tines.1,Tines.2 and the Soundwheel: whirring sounds like fluttering wings, or mechanical water wheels or lathes. Guirlandes of fast notes echo these glissandi. In between, sustained chords and repeated melodic fragments claim their own space. Tempi speed up and slow down within these gestures, creating peaks of excitation and ambient languor.

I am very much looking forward to coming to NYC and being a part of the UnCaged Toy Piano Festival and working with Tristan McKay, to whom I have been mailing notes and making preparations for the performance at Piano’s on December 12th.