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Douze Mains (2008-2011)
For 6 players on one piano
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plons (2009)

Ensemble Continuum (Canada)

Audio sample 'Doc, it's only a scratch -part 1'
(example version by the composer)

Two great joys in my life are the simple do-it-yourself fun of playing quatre-mains (especially with my grandfather) and letting myself be surprised again and again by one of the most creative, quirky and contagious music of the twentieth century: The White Album by the Beatles. This is my ode to both of them. Six players are placed around the grand piano like surgeons around the operating table. The lid of the piano has been taken off. With basic household tools the musicians operate on the inside of the instrument. The patient responds to the treatment moaning, giggling and groaning.

Instrumentation: amplified grand piano (6 players)

Duration: ± 11 minutes

First Performance: 20 november 2008 in the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ in Amsterdam by Ensemble Continuum (Canada)

Written for: Ensemble Continuum (Canada)


1. Doc, it's only a scratch - part 1
2. What have you done?
3. Take it easy
4. Doc, it's only a scratch - part 2
5. Oh yeah

Review of a performance by eighth blackbird (USA): " 'Twelve Hands,' by Mayke Nas, is characteristic of that sense of joy. Nas describes the piece as an ode to "The Beatles" [The White Album.] The resemblance is spiritual, not literal, informed by the same creative "let's try this" attitude.
It's a mischievous work for a topless piano and six musicians wielding kitchen utensils, bank cards and mallets. Operating table imagery is encouraged by such movement titles as "Doc, it's only a scratch." Imagine a harp with a drum kit transplant, and you've got some idea of the sound."

(Angela Lehman-Rios in Richmond Times-Dispatch, 18 september 2009)

Review of a performance by f.c. jongbloed: "Even more hilarious was Mayke Nas' 'Douze Mains'. Six chattering musicians with an apron on plunge into a grand piano with dishwashing brushes. The contemporary music scene deserves adventurous boosts like these more often."
(Mark van de Voort, Brabants Dagblad, 9 mei 2011)

Review of a performance by Spectra Ensemble (BE): " At the same Promsconcert the Flemish Ensemble Spectra played 'Douze Mains' by Mayke Nas. Again a title that could set one off in a fit of laughter: as far as one knows it is never used before, even though it is so obvious. As if hands can't be counted beyond quatre. Moreover, the title in this case was a proper preparation for the performance, in which six players had no other instrument at their disposal than one grand piano, a grand piano without its lid, 'topless' as the composer indicates. Lurking around the grand piano they did all sorts of things together with their twelve hands, and not just at random; they were seriously looking for a solution to a musical problem: how to make the most of a topless grand piano.

This act could have easily be ruined by hamming it up: responding to eachother, getting in eachothers way, et cetera. Then it would have become laughable instead of engaging: the laughter that could have spread through the hall would have been one of vicarious shame. But fortunately everyone kept focussing on his own part in this operation, moved position from time to time and continued their own specialism. In the meanwhile we listened to a miraculous mix of knocking, rubbing and strumming sounds.

We waited to be set on the wrong track without realising we had been on the wrong track all along. What we heard and saw brought us, in a kind of reverse mode, back on the right track. When it ended, the hall didn't roar with relieve; instead you could see broad smiles all around during the applause."

(Ad Zuiderent in Muziek van nu, 17 december 2012)