Ravenschord, Whipsaw’s design for a reconceived piano that shows the instrument’s inner workings and lets the pianist face the audience.

In last Tuesday’s (7/18) Fast Company (password may be required), Elissaveta M. Brandon writes, “Few objects are defined by their shape as much as the grand piano. Inspired by the form of its predecessor, the harpsichord, the piano is the musical embodiment of ‘form follows function.’ It has had the same sinuous body for more than 300 years…. Dan Harden, founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based industrial design firm Whipsaw … four months ago set out to radically redesign the piano. Harden’s proposal, called the Ravenchord, is shaped like a bird’s wing, with strings fanning out from the center…. A pianist would sit in front of the piano and face the audience; viewers would get to see the inner workings of the instrument … The mechanisms that make up a piano—the hammers, dampers, and strings—are all exposed … Harden says, ‘I wanted to liberate the piano by more fully expressing its form, function, and usability.’  For now, the Ravenchord is just a concept … The biggest challenge will be to convince pianists that this thing they have known their entire lives … is ripe for reinvention. I, for one, welcome the experiment with infinite curiosity and a touch of skepticism.”