Henry Dixon Cowell was an American composer, music theorist, pianist, teacher, publisher, . of his output—important works from this era include The Banshee ( ), requiring numerous playing methods such as pizzicato and longitudinal. Henry Cowell’s The Banshee an audience sits in the dark facing a grand piano on a brightly lit stage. The piano’s lid angles upward, the keyboard waits for. Henry Cowell. Publisher: AMP. The Banshee (). Publisher. Associated Music Publishers Inc. Category. Solo Keyboard(s). Year Composed.

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In the late s and early to mid-’20s, Henry Cowell made a study of extended techniques and sounds available on the piano, and incorporated these in a series of short compositions. One of these, The Bansheehas become one of the composer’s best-known works; it also manifests Cowell ‘s longstanding interest in Irish mythology.

The banshee or banshie is a female spirit who alerts a family to the impending death of one of its members by making a wailing sound underneath the windows of the family home. Some have said that the result of this inside-the-piano technique is reminiscent of electronically generated sound.


As was so often the case with him, Cowell returned to The Banshee inrearranging it for piano and orchestra as the first movement of his Irish Suite.

Two players are required, one standing at the piano’s crook and the other holding down the damper pedal throughout. The music, written an octave higher than it sounds, requires the player standing at the crook to stroke and pluck the interior strings in one of 12 specified ways using either the flat of cowsll hand, the fingernails, or the flesh of the fingers.

The Banshee, for piano strings, HC 405

Although all the notes are indicated and the piece is in rough ABA form with specific tempo instructions, these are not easily perceived by the listener, who hears only an eerie, otherworldly shrieking and wailing. AllMusic relies heavily on JavaScript.

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Tricks or Treats: Henry Cowell – The Banshee | Consequence of Sound

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Henry Cowell, John Cage: From the New World: Rassegna di Nuova Musica, Vol. Instrumental, Chamber and Vocal Music, Vol. Piano Compositions by Henry Cowell. The Piano Music of Henry Cowell. Gay American Composers-Volume 2. Sound Forms for Piano.

The Art of Listening [7th Edition].