I am not a musician or a craftsman. And I am no scholar.
But I love pianos and old stuff, and I like to take things apart to find out how they work, or don’t. I’m not often successful putting things back together, but that’s the price of discovery. And usually the things I disassemble are well beyond repair. Such is the case with the two pianos I have in my garage.
Why I have two old and dysfunctional pianos in my garage is a story better told elsewhere, as is the story about why I’ve carted around one of them — all 900 pounds of it — for almost 40 years, and why I thought it would be a good idea to pick up another, and why I thought my wife would think that was a good idea, too. I must have had a vision. Or gone mad.
What I had in mind, still in the form of an ill-defined dream, was to dismantle the pianos and created something new. Perhaps a desk, a buffet, a floor lamp, a dog house, whatever, I don’t know. But those were, as I said, dreams. And I had no intention of actually doing anything about them any time soon. Someday, I told myself, given enough whisky, I’ll do something with those things.
Then one day, without benefit of the spirits, I was cleaning up the garage and I found myself inexplicably drawn to one of the pianos, the more accessible of the two. And, for reasons I haven’t quite figured out, I loosened a screw. On the piano, not my brain.
That screw led to another, and soon I was taking this thing apart piece by piece. What I discovered in that process was more than the inner mechanisms of a 105-year-old musical instrument. I found an entire volume of memories and thoughts about music, my love of pianos and the beauty of craftsmanship. And I found myself musing about my childhood and my father, and life and love.
As I lifted each piece of wood, stripped off strings and peeled away the felt rings that cushioned the moving parts, I revealed something new. I was, in my head, creating an opus of reminiscence and rumination, of self discovery.
This blog, Notes on a Piano, is the result of all that.
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