Kinetic Études

Kinetic Études

Rodrigo Pinheiro + Pedro Carneiro

On late 2020 and at the begging of 2021 we recorded two duo sessions. This record is the result of the second session.


Rodrigo Pinheiro, piano
Pedro Carneiro, marimba with quarter tone extension


Recorded by Pedro Carneiro at Orquestra de Câmara Portuguesa (OCP), Algés, Portugal on January 30, 2021
Mixed by Rodrigo Pinheiro and Pedro Carneiro
Mastered by Rodrigo Pinheiro
Cover photo by Bruno Vicente
Inside photo by Nuno Martins
Design by Sofia Faustino
Produced by Phonogram Unit

Release date
April 2, 2021
Phonogram Unit - PU3CD
Disc format


The following spring appeared Kinetic Études , a piano/marimba duo disc, recorded by Rodrigo Pinheiro and Pedro Carneiro . Six pieces called “studies”, like so many sound experiments. They are quite long, which leaves time for the music to happen. Resonance, speed, energy, space, impact, silence are some of the parameters on which the two musicians influence. This gives a rich and varied music, ultimately very percussive, which suggests, beyond the instrumental qualities of the two protagonists, the extent of the registers of these two instruments as well as their close linguistic proximity.

That lyricism is close to a certain neo-classical impulse apparent in some of the recordings, most notably those with the presence of Pedro Carneiro, a classical conductor and master percussionist who entered the improvisers realm about a decade ago in the company of violinist Carlos Zingaro, father figure to Lisboan free music. It is evident in Carneiro’s duo recording with Pinheiro, Kinetic Etudes, in which the levels of precision and complexity result in improvisations that could only have sprung from the deliberations and intensive rehearsal of a composer and two virtuosi, respectively. Its spontaneity, however, gives it further dimension, as do the resonant bass register and the quarter-tone extension of Carneiro’s vast marimba.

Best of all is how the dialogue, because that's what it is, keeps you on the edge of your seat as a listener, with the closing étude as the culmination of power, finesse and empathy. An impressive tour de force that demarcates its own playing zone.

Exploratory chamber improv from the Portuguese duo of pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro and percussionist Pedro Carneiro. Across six études, Carneiro plays marimba with a quarter-tone extension, allowing him to slip into spaces between the piano notes. That’s particularly apparent on “Étude 2: On Velocity And Acceleration”, where Carneiro’s marimba scurries around a maze of piano, scaling the walls and zig-zagging around corners. On “Étude 2: On Shadows And Resonances”, they temper the pace, as Pinheiro’s deadened piano stalks Carneiro’s bowed harmonics and scraped bars. “Étude 5: On Resistance And Mass” finds Carneiro working the marimba’s low and mid-range, creating clouds of tone behind Pinheiro’s agitated piano.

Each musician improvises with a heightened precision, a refinement that might even suggest that they are reading, though no scores are apparent nor are there individual composition credits. Instead, the two move with a kind of natural fluency, ears wide open to the exchange, one’s phrase launching the other’s in music that often possesses an ecstatic flight and drift.

Pinheiro and Carneiro are very gifted musicians, both in technical terms and in mastering different languages, and in this set of studies (six in all) what they show is their ability to listen to each other, to respond to each other, to complement each other, in a really crescendo exploratory approach, tension management, pressure and release, which translates into a complex harmonic web woven by Pinheiro on the acoustic piano and by Carneiro on the marimba with a quarter-tone extension. [...] The result is simply stunning.

Free improvisation session, displays all the technical mastery and expressive maturity of these two artists. One of the biggest surprises of the year so far.

Unexpected combinations of instruments for improvised music are not uncommon. But a piano duet with a marimba is probably not easy to find, and even more so with a quarter-tone marimba. This alone is a good reason to recommend the album for listening. And if you take into account Carneiro's powerful play and Pinheiro's ingenuity, the recommendation turns into at least an urgent one.

If the combination of piano and marimba is quite unusual, and therefore especially attractive, also because it does not have previously defined parameters, it is the musicians themselves and not the instruments that captivate our listening. Rodrigo Pinheiro and Pedro Carneiro are two virtuosos in a good way, that is, they put the great technique they have at the service of music, the results obtained being more important than the exhibitionism of their abilities. But more important than that is the openness they show towards the "other", revealing a flexibility that is much more than adaptation: it is the ability to adhere to what the other proposes, responding with their entire personality, refusing to make commitments fixed or lowest common denominators. What comes here, in permanent but differentiated management of kinetic energies, is a sensitive and intelligent way to reach harmony through conflict. When we talk to each other it's called “debate” or “conversation” – in music, we call debate… music.