I had a haircut this week, and realised that I have more grey than dark. I also took a test to find out the age I'd live to, and discovered that I'm exactly half way to death. Hmmm. What will I do with all this time?
I love piano tuning. Somehow it’s a way I stay in touch with the seasons. I get my piano tuned three or four times a year, depending on how many seasons we have… It’s the end of the summer; the weather is getting wetter & colder. The wood in the piano is responding by breathing a sigh of relief. Last week it started to feel like it was happier, and wanted a tuning.
It’s a weird thing, a relationship with a piano. The way I improvise, I listen to the way harmonics move through the piano. I guess it probably started when i spent weeks of my life watching spectrum analysis in vocal recording studios. I was an “expert” in voice analysis, and developed a really keen ear for harmonic dispersion, irregularities, shifting harmonic energy.
That’s the reason I’ve taken the lid off the piano and play with no music stand: I’m always listening to how the energy is moving between harmonics, surfing the harmonic spaces. About a month after the piano is tuned, the harmonics usually start blurring. There’s a period where my relationship with the piano is strained, where I feel like I’m fighting with it; I can’t hear what it’s saying to me. Then, once they blur even more, it’s suddenly not a problem. My playing changes, there’s less subtlety of flow, but the relationship is steady.
Then the season usually changes, and it’s time for a tuning; a bit like couples therapy for me and my piano. It reminds me of how amazing the experience of playing with a piano can be. It also reminds me that time is passing, wild mushroom season is coming, along with falling leaves, apples and chilly mornings.
Yesterday I played a Fazioli piano that Freddy Murcury gave to a recording studio in London. It was like meeting a new friend, one who needs a bit of care and attention (the regulation needs some attention, and it’s having it’s autumn slump). I hope someone will take care of it.