Saturday, October 11, 2008

Music for Ruined Pianos

The passage of time.  Space.  Loneliness.

Ever wondered what a piano would sound like after being exposed to the elements for months or even years?  The World Association for Ruined Piano Studies (WARPS) is a site dedicated to the unique sounds of pianos condemned to such an orphaned fate. From one of the many ruined piano stories on the site:

The Ruined Piano is a giant box of thumps, clicks, boompdidoomps, long rings, gongs, buzzes, dead ringers (notes that ring momentarily, then die completely). Notes that don't work are at least as interesting as those that do. Occasionally you push down one key and five or six others companionably go down with it, making for a surprise cluster and great swathes of harmonics singing forever.

Each Ruined Piano is utterly unique with respect to action and tuning (if we can talk of tuning at all). An F# one and a half octaves above middle C on a West Australian Ruined Piano in a semi-desert environment differs radically from the same note on a flooded piano in a studio four floors below pavement level in Prague. So approach each Ruined Piano as a new occasion for learning, letting go of last year's Sonata for the chaos, frustration and joyous confusion touched off by the wreck that's right there under your hands.
In case you're wondering what these instruments sound like, there is a full page of ruined piano recordings (many in outdoor ambient environments) that you can peruse on the WARPS site.

(Via This Blog Will Change The World; image originally uploaded by zablotny to the Perishing Pianos Pool on Flickr)

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