Serendipity Poetry and Play in Toy Piano composition and Four Pieces for Toy Piano


  • Brian Inglis Middlesex University | UK



Toy piano, Composition, Play, Found objects, Serendipity


In this paper I draw on literature by Xenia Pestova, Antonietta Loffredo and Maggie Williams/Margaret Leng Tan, and primary research in the form of an interview with Kate Ryder (transcribed as an Appendix) exploring aspects of toy piano performance/composition and focussing on my Four Pieces for Toy Piano (2018). These pieces were commissioned by Ryder and premiered by her in London in 2018, and subsequently published and recorded. I identify themes which emerge in, and out from, this and other professional repertoire for toy piano relating to composition and performance practice: material/materiality; sonic character, notation, collaboration and communication. I provide a poietic account of some of the processes involved in the pieces' composition and realisation in performance.


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Biografia do Autor

Brian Inglis, Middlesex University | UK

Born in Münster, Germany, of Scottish and Irish heritage, Dr Brian Andrew Inglis is Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University, London, UK, where he is Programme Leader for BA Music. A composer and musicologist, his practice and research explore overarching themes of genre and identity. Recent outputs include an album of solo piano music Living Stones (Sargasso), and an edition (with Barry Smith) of Kaikhosru Sorabi's Letters to Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock), published by Routledge in 2019. A chapter on John Tavener's To a Child Dancing in the Wind is forthcoming in Heart's Ease (Peter Lang 2020). He is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of the Royal Musical Association (UK), and on the steering committee of the international network Music, Spirituality and Wellbeing. ORCID:


BARTHES, Roland, trans. HEATH, Stephen. Image/Music/Text. Flamingo edition. London: Fontana, 1984.

BLOM, Diana. Biffo in the Toy Box, for toy piano and music box. In Strange Terrain: a new anthology of New Zealand graphic scores 1965-2012. Wellington: Wai-te-ata Music Press, 2014.

BOCCIONI, Umberto. La Risata, 1911. Painting.

CAGE, John. Concert for Piano and Orchestra. New York: Henmar Press, 1960. Score.

CUTLER, Joe. La maison de Fred. 2001. Score. For playing, speaking, singing and whistling toy piano.

ESSL, Karlheinz. Kalimba. 2005. Score. For toy piano and playback.

HERTTRICH, Ernst, ed. Schumann: Complete Piano Works, Volume 1. München: Henle Verlag, 2009. Score.

INGLIS, Brian. Four Pieces for Toy Piano. Chipping Norton: Composers Edition, 2018. Score.

__________. Laugh. Performer: Kate Ryder. In compilation album I hope this finds you well in these unusual times Vol. 1. London: Nonclassical, 2020. Online at

LIGETI, György. Volumina. Leipzig: Henry Litolff's Verlag, 1962. Score. For organ.

LOFFREDO, Antonietta. The Toy Piano. Bologna: Ut Orpheus, 2018.

MESSIAEN, Olivier. Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité. Montrouge: Alphonse Leduc, 1969. Score. For organ.

PESTOVA, Xenia. Toy Pianos, Poor Tools: Virtuosity and Imagination in a Limited Context. Tempo, Cambridge, 71/281, 27-38, July 2017.

RYDER, Kate. London, June 2019. Interview (see transcription in Appendix).

SHIEL, Derek. Poems. London: Lulu, 2011.

SMITH, Paul. Subversive Sounds: Toy Piano and Voice as Counterhegemonic forces in The City/The Forest. Paper delivered at MUSIC AS PLAY, 2019, Como.

WILLIAMS, Maggie. Child"™s Play. International Piano, London, March/April 2007. Available at

WOLFE, Julia. East Broadway. 1996. Score. For toy piano and toy boombox.




Como Citar

Inglis, B. (2020). Serendipity Poetry and Play in Toy Piano composition and Four Pieces for Toy Piano. Revista Vórtex, 8(2), 5.



Dossiê "The Toy Piano Takes the Stage"