There is a great book for piano technicians and piano lovers called Pianos Inside Out, which was recently published in 2013. The author is a Croatian technician and pianist named Mario Igrec, who is a sharp and multi talented fellow. The book is overwhelming in its thoroughness, extremely useful and utterly impressive. It is basically the next generation in piano manuals to have arrived since the release of a book called Piano Servicing, Tuning and Rebuilding by Arthur Reblitz (first published in 1976 and updated in 1997).
It’s a bit expensive but most piano technicians I know have bought it and treat it like a bit of a treasure. Since it is pretty dense material, reading it from cover to cover is a bit daunting, but it sounds like a fun and worthy goal to most of us. It can simply be used as a reference book so this type of treatment is not necessary, but could be useful for discovering little facts and techniques one wouldn’t even know to look for.
So this is the goal—to read the book from cover to cover. If you are up for it come join us. We’ll post summaries of various sections as we proceed. Hopefully this will help guide you on your journey through the book. Or perhaps some tidbits from one section or the other will give you something to think about or whet your appetite to delve in deeper. We’ll tackle 50 pages a week.
pages 1-50: History, Design, Construction
There’s this phenomenon called brain crack. Have you ever heard of it? I remember the term was introduced years ago, by a vlogger named Ze Frank.
Basically: when you have an amazing idea in your mind, it’s easy to just keep thinking about it. Over and over. Planning all the wonderful details, crafting the perfect plan, dreaming up how great it’s going to be.
But you never actually do it.
You just get addicted to the idea. And there’s no way, if you actually did it, that it could ever live up to the idyllic concept you’ve created. So there you are, caught in a feedback loop, addicted to brain crack.
May 17-19, 2016
After my short but full stay in Cartagena, I flew into New York City. I was excited to return to the Floating Piano Factory home base, catch up with friends, and re-discover the beauty of this town. While I was there, I stayed with friends in Long Island, a couple that I came to know through a long chain of music-related moments…
May 10-17, 2016
It was time to take a break.
I’d been exploring Peru, finding rogue pianos, producing concerts, doing pro bono tunings, hunting down elusive piano technicians, and all the while running Floating Piano Factory from afar. The lines between my work and personal life had become increasingly blurry. I needed a little time to re-center.
Much like paddling into unknown waters on a surfboard, I do have a plan in mind as I move forward—but until the waves come, it’s hard to say exactly how things will turn out. I just keep trying to follow the paths that open up to me, and to pursue the things that feel most worthwhile. Taking some time to travel and relax seemed like a good way to gain some perspective.
Well, just as I started to paddle out, that’s exactly when the waves rolled in. Waves of emails, actually. I’d submitted a scientific paper to an academic journal, it was under review and I found out it would be considered for publication—if I was able to make an array of changes. Here I was, arriving in Colombia, hoping to step away from my work, but this was an assignment that just couldn’t wait.
It was finally time for me to depart from Arequipa.
My destination was Cartagena, which was the best option for a connecting flight to New York. Originally, I’d had grand plans of how I’d get there: I could take a train through Equador, stopping at hostels along the way, or I could climb aboard a river boat in the Amazon and wind through rainforests en route to Colombia. But after all my visits and adventures preparing to leave Peru, I was now a few days behind schedule. I’d have to go straight to Lima, where I could hop a flight directly into Cartagena.
Okay, so there were actually a few more things that happened before I left Arequipa.
I returned to La UNSA to work with the music students once again. This time, we pulled apart a piano so they could see how it’s assembled. How the various pieces all fit together.
This is a rare opportunity. As a student, you don’t usually get the chance to take a piano completely apart, because once you open it up and start poking around, it can get really delicate. There’s a lot you have to learn in order to explore without doing any damage.
But I’ll come back to that.