Instruments: Adventure in Sound

On the stage in U.C.L.A.'s Royce Hall last week, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Conductor Zubin Mehta got ready to play. Unlike most concertgoers, the audience fastened its attention not on the musicians but on Syn-Ket, a strange instrument set on a table in mid-stage.

It was equipped with three tiny keyboards, stacked like the manuals of a pipe organ; vines of wires drooped down from their sockets. It looked like a kiddie's toy piano hooked up to a telephone switchboard.

When Composer-Pianist John Eaton, 33, began to play his Concert Piece for Syn-Ket and Symphony Orchestra, the audience quickly...

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