Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Safe Back Home With Mrs Kemble

Got home last Friday. After nearly four months practising on the semi-weighted Yamaha, the Kemble felt "rich and strange". Eccentric, even. My first thought was, "We're going to need a better piano". This was especially so with regard to sensitivity - getting a wee pianissimo note out was really difficult. So on Saturday when I happened to be in Biggar's in Sauchiehall St anyway, I had a shot on all of the pianos in the showroom. The digitals, mostly Yahamas, were fine, very touch sensitive, but of course soulless. But the acoustics, even a Broadwood baby grand, weren't appreciably better than my Kemble at home.

And so I got back down to it. Next mushqila, all of the white keys from B4 to G5 are liable to stick, making RH scales impossible to play. And not from want of trying: I thought maybe they just needed plenty of work, and they'd loosen up, but no. Meanwhile, (I was so pleased to get my fingers on Mrs K, I was for playing every note), B0 and C1 sound exactly the same, and the felts on the dampers for all of the lowest octave or so have a queer, fuzzy look. I got straight on to David Boyce, (who tuned Mrs K back in 2013 when she first arrived), to find that the conversation we'd had back then about working in Saudi had borne fruit, and he's still out there with his feet in the desert sand. He gave me the number of another tuner/technician, who's on holiday but back next week.

In the meantime, therefore, with C2 - C4 not sticking and being more-or-less in tune, I'm obliged to do LH scales and arpeggios, and LH Lincolnshire Poacher, whilst waiting for the non-Saudified tuner/technician. Which is turning out fine. I've been concentrating on the C scale. And for the first time I've started to practice with the metronome. The recommended minimum BPM for the Grade 1 scales is♩= 60, which turned out to be quite painfully slow, so I've got it now at♩= 72, andante, a healthy pulse, hot weather walking pace. C maj I've got down nicely, looking at the music or the metronome, fingers right up the keys. Just started today on G maj.

I watched a BBC documentary a few weeks back about restoring a war damaged Yamaha concert grand in Gaza. The technician said that all pianos have souls. Reluctant as I am to admit that even humans have "souls", I nevertheless know what she meant. Maybe "personalities" or "idiosyncrasies" would be a better way of describing it, especially in an older piano, where each instrument even if it's made by the same people from the same materials will have tiny differences manifest in the grain of the wood, and whether the vital work was done on a Wednesday morning or a Friday afternoon, say...

Khalas, I'm going back to G maj LH.