Words by c.z.robertson

Mirror piano

2007-05-15 19:31:38 GMT/BST

My great-uncle Arthur had an odd theory about piano playing: He thought that the actions of the left hand should mirror the actions of the right hand. So when the right hand moves one key higher, the left should go a key lower. To be honest, I'm not sure whether this was rigid dogma about all piano playing or whether it was just the way he liked to play for himself. But anyway, it's an interesting idea and I was curious about how it would work in practice. So I experimented.

To simplify things, I stuck to white notes only. If you want to mirror the pattern of white and black keys correctly (or, in other words, mirror the pattern of tones and semitones correctly) it turns out that there's only one mapping from right to left that you can do. On the other hand (no pun intended), if you're willing to ignore the black keys entirely and just mirror the movements of the hands on the white keys, another six mappings become available to you.

So I wrote a very simple little tune that could be played with the right hand, then added in all the left hand mappings, playing each in turn. I thought I should write a program to generate all the left hand sequences, but in the end it seemed easier to just figure them all out manually. Hopefully no mistakes have crept in. The results, while they wouldn't win any awards, are reasonably listenable. And of course, because I can't really play the piano, this is all done electronically. There are no hands.