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  1. Please identify the ghostly keyboard sound from Emil Cioran: The Life of a Sage at 46:21.
  2. Does this sound form a recognized subgenre? Are there any composers who composed such music? This feels more eerie than John Cage's prepared piano music.
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This is a de-tuned (deliberately out-of-tune) piano, with a heavy amount of reverb added. It is made yet more eerie with the addition of some dissonant (violin-family) string instruments. Reverb, which suggests a big empty chamber, and dissonance, which can introduce a feeling of "wrongness," are two of the most common techniques for making something sound scary.

Piano detuning is a technique that captures the sound of pianos that have naturally gone out of tune. Since pianos have doubled strings, this introduces dissonances even with single notes. We associate the sound with saloons in old Western movies, honky-tonk pianos in country-and-western bars, pianos in old mansions in horror movies, pianos in old recordings (not really detuned, but sounding that way because of recording limitations) and --for some of us-- with the pianos in our childhood homes. The little dissonances in the detuning give the piano a slightly bell-like warble that some people really like (again, see: childhood memories).

There isn't really a genre based on detuned pianos, but the detuned piano sounds "right" with genres like ragtime and country, and has a definite place in horror movie soundtracks. (The high-reverb setting is what gives that empty mansion feel, whereas the cheerful honky-tonk piano sound is likely to be low-reverb.) I wasn't able to find any examples of compositions for detuned pianos in the classical tradition, but there are plenty of videos featuring classical songs played on detuned piano.

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