When I mention to people that one of my specialties as a piano technician is working on modern piano player systems, I often get a quizzical look in response. Most people have heard of player pianos, of course, but still associate them with the player pianos of yore, the ones with paper rolls and vacuum …
Throughout my life as a piano player and my career as a piano technician, I’ve noticed an interesting divide in opinions on player pianos. Some people think they’re the bees’ knees. I mean, a piano that plays itself (and likely does a lot of other stuff like recording and streaming music over the internet) obviously …
Built in 1921, this Yamaha upright somehow made the journey from Japan to the United States, despite having been manufactured 40 years before Yamaha began exporting pianos across the Pacific Ocean.
The influence on today’s U-series, perennial favorites of Yamaha keyboard line, is clear in the basic design, from the height to the empire lid that folds back. Today’s upright models are more streamlined, with straight legs and a flat front panel, both free of embellishments. Additionally, while much of the playing mechanism inside resembles today’s pianos, the action is secured with hooks on each end rather than today’s modern system of bolts.
Around the same time I inadvertently went on a blog posting hiatus in September, I had the opportunity to go to Denver, CO, both for work and to visit family. I didn’t plan for extracurriculars beyond said work and family, so it was a pleasant surprise when my co-worker called with the following invite:
Him: Hey, whatcha doing tomorrow night?
Me: Uh. Hanging out with my family? I think? Why?
Him: Well, we have 4 tickets to go see Peter Gabriel at the Red Rocks tomorrow, but there’s only 3 of us. Would you like to come and be our fourth?
(I must be honest here, I am not terribly familiar with Peter Gabriel’s ouevre because his dancing claymation chicken video freaked me out in the ’80s and I never bothered to pay a whole lot of attention to him beyond that. Anyways.)