Tuesday, August 16, 2005

In Praise of Ruin

Old pianos. You see them crouching in dank basements, laundry rooms, shoved into the dark corners of bar rooms, garages, wasting on porches, and worse. Whether victims of faded ambitions, neglect, or sheer age, they seem to have but one destiny: the trash heap.

Or maybe not. Enter "
World Association for Ruined Piano Studies" (aka WARPS). Their mission to provide old pianos with plenty of sunshine, rain, and a chance to make beautiful, if strange, music once again. I love this poem from their website:

"The guts of Schumann Chopin -
All that damp and unrequited love
Are strung out to dry

Unwound strings and dead wood
Whirr and chirrup
In the cicadas long electric blurt"

They've put out several nice recordings of "ruined pianos". One of the most interesting is Ross Bolleter's CD entitled "Satellites: Pieces for ruined pianos, pianos on the edge of ruin and prepared piano" Here's an excerpt (mp3) from his "An Ancient Piano is Singing". Click here to listen.

You can read about and hear an interview with Ross here. And check out the website for the World Association for Ruined Piano Studies here. The site is full of interesting stories, photos, and sounds.

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