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Work Samples

Concerto-ish for Toy Piano & Friends

Commissioned by Symphony Number One in 2017 the "Concerto-ish for Toy Piano & Friends" is a miniature concert piece scored for small ensemble with the toy piano in the spotlight. The accompanying instruments are the same as Igor Stravinsky's "L'Histoire du soldat": bassoon, bass clarinet, trumpet, trombone, violin, double bass, and percussion. Premiered at a summer concert in Mount Vernon Square, this video is from the second performance of the work.

Toy Piano + Beatbox @ the Toy Music Festival in Seoul, Korea!

Two Pieces for Toy Piano in the Dorian Mode, No. 1: Settled Groove came into being as Benjamin Buchanan (b. 1989) sought to learn how to beatbox and play toy piano at the same time. Settled Groove is an excerpt of Buchanan’s larger-scale work-in-progress: an hour long set of electronica-inspired pieces for toy piano with effects and beatboxing. Aesthetically, its harmonic language, use of repetition, dotted eighth note syncopation, and textural layering takes the sonic landscape of contemporary pop-electronica as the point of departure.

Physical Arrangement for String Quartet - Musical Score

Physical Arrangement for String Quartet is a performance created by sculptor Sara Dittrich and composer Benjamin Buchanan. It offers a striking, thought-provoking presentation that brings into question the vessel of the performance space, and factors engrained in “concert music” recital traditions by placing musicians in strenuous/precarious positions throughout the concert hall. In writing the music, Buchanan plays the dual role of composer and choreographer by exaggerating each musician’s body in space and in relation to one another. Orchestrating the pairings of instruments, the shifts in musical textures, and physical approaches to idiomatic string techniques, this quartet becomes a ballet, providing their music for, and through, their own dance. The music for this performative dance of muscles and bows is structured in the form of the age-old “sonata-style.” Stylistically some might characterize it as postmodern due to it drawing from the sonic landscapes of the Classical era, the twentieth-century avant-garde, contemporary film scores, and electronic pop music, but as a whole it demonstrates one composer’s take on today’s avant-garde contemporary musical stylings. Taking the familiar into the realm of the absurd, the exaggerated forms in Physical Arrangement for String Quartet creates a playful and meditative atmosphere in which the norms of musical traditions are defied.

This attached image is  of the musical score for this work created in collaboration with the sculptor Sara Dittrich.

PDF icon Physical Arrangement for String Quartet - Musical Score

CONCERTOish FOR TOY PIANO & FRIENDS.pdf

The musical score for "Concerto-ish for Toy Piano & Friends" commissioned by Symphony Number One in 2017.

PDF icon CONCERTOish FOR TOY PIANO & FRIENDS.pdf

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About Benjamin

Baltimore City

Benjamin Buchanan's picture
Benjamin Buchanan (b. 1989) is a Baltimore based organist, beatboxing toy pianist,  composer, and performance artist. Described by the late three-time Nobel prize nominated poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, as a “most quickly enflaming young composer,” his music has received performances in Sweden (violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved), Hungary (by flutist Gergely Ittzés), Italy (by Ensemble 5.9 and by Antonietta Loffredo), Haiti (by Les Petits Chanteurs), and throughout the United States by varying artists... more

Abstract Toy Piano Assemblages

  • Benjamin Buchanan with Toy Piano Stack.jpg

    The original version of my toy piano stack including two Schoenhut toy pianos, a Japanese toy piano, an antique toy piano, a music box toy piano, and a Woodstock "tubular bells" style toy piano.
  • Extra Tall Toy Piano.jpg

    An "extra tall" toy piano model for the purpose of standing while playing. I commissioned the sculptor Sara Dittrich to build these legs for my 37-key Schoenhut toy piano and she did a beautiful job!
  • Ben Under Extra Tall Toy Piano.jpg

    Another shot of the "extra tall" toy piano model, with me in the shot for scale. I commissioned the sculptor Sara Dittrich to build these legs for my 37-key Schoenhut toy piano and she did a beautiful job!
  • Ben Buchanan 86.jpg

    A toy piano celebration, Summer 2019. This photo shows the component parts of my multi-level toy piano "organ" in progress. Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker

Guest Directing at Holy Trinity Music School, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Performance videos from my time over the the summers of 2017-2019 guest directing the Les Petits Chanteurs children's and youth choir at Holy Trinity Music School, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 

Physical Arrangement for String Quartet

Physical Arrangement for String Quartet is a performance created by sculptor Sara Dittrich and composer Benjamin Buchanan. It offers a striking, thought-provoking presentation that brings into question the vessel of the performance space, and factors engrained in “concert music” recital traditions by placing musicians in strenuous/precarious positions throughout the concert hall. In writing the music, Buchanan plays the dual role of composer and choreographer by exaggerating each musician’s body in space and in relation to one another. Orchestrating the pairings of instruments, the shifts in musical textures, and physical approaches to idiomatic string techniques, this quartet becomes a ballet, providing their music for, and through, their own dance. The music for this performative dance of muscles and bows is structured in the form of the age-old “sonata-style.” Stylistically some might characterize it as postmodern due to it drawing from the sonic landscapes of the Classical era, the twentieth-century avant-garde, contemporary film scores, and electronic pop music, but as a whole it demonstrates one composer’s take on today’s avant-garde contemporary musical stylings. Taking the familiar into the realm of the absurd, the exaggerated forms in Physical Arrangement for String Quartet creates a playful and meditative atmosphere in which the norms of musical traditions are defied.

Benjamin's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.