Pianos: Cold comfort

I love autumn. This leaf eclipses our feet.

Weaving lengths of cloth through the backlengths of the strings is both traditional and functional. This fiddly-diddly work is sometimes called Tonia Todmaning (mostly by me). You might notice another length of cloth under the strings near the hitchpins (toward the top of this shot) which must be glued into position before the stringing begins.

The ends of the woven-in cloth will be doubled back for a few strings and back again. This ensures that the whole length can be pulled taut so that unwanted sound from the non-speaking lengths of the strings will be muted. Billiard table cloth (known as baize) is of appropriate durability for this job.

The Tonia Todmaning that is required in the middle and lower parts of the treble bridge has to be done before the bass strings go on. In a cross-strung (or overstrung) piano the strings on the bass bridge will travel over this section of the treble bridge. The time to Tonia the treble is now.

Pelican pair spied in my 'hood. Sydney never ceases to amaze me.

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belly can,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week
But I'm damned if I see how the hell he can!

The Art Gallery. I couldn't tell if these were the latest art items...

...or decorations for the South American-themed event I was tuning for. I thought the moustache would never make a comeback, except perhaps ironically. I was wrong. I speak as someone who was sentient in the 1970s when the mo' rode tall in the saddle. These artworks might not be moustaches. I digress.

Hey, way to ruin art appreciation, Cazzbo. I drank this drop at a tuning. Delicious. As we sipped the client asked how often she should tune her piano. I gave her the usual answer: six-monthly if you're fussy, twelve-monthly if you're not. Once a year is the absolute minimum one could recommend in a domestic situation. I'd often have elaborated about pianos and seasonal variations, but because she was beyond sozzled on Ruinart I kept it brief. That's how often. She was barely listening, just ready to deploy, '...well that's how often you can enjoy this fine drop.' It's a deal (perhaps).

How am I meant to sit this on top of my piano?

Knick-knacks next to the piano in a snooty home. A braggard's booty of exotic artefacts. That artwork: I'm not in the gallery so I can't read all about it on a little wall panel to the side.

Our fearless National Broadcaster's logo appears embedded in that artwork. Can this client expect a raid from the Australian Federal Police? Surveillance gone mad.

I've created a secret garden in the corner of my front yard. It's a collection of pots salvaged from nature strip throwouts, painted and planted up. Overnight someone has installed a suspicious microphone in the middle of a bromeliad. Surveillance gone mad.

I bet you thought that ABBA was the first group to chuck a reversed letter B into the mix. But here we find that the piano tuners' equivalent of caveman daubings is set to prove that notion wrong. The year written underneath is 1928. There is a bit of a tradition of tuners creating something distinctive with their initials, blending them and so forth. Try as I might, I am yet to develop a definitive version of my initials for pencilling in pianos. It's a first world problem. Looking again, this might be 'EHD' with a curvy 3-style E. Too late, I spent half the tuning thinking about ABBA. To the right of the autograph we see the type of screw nut that causes folk to invent tools to have nifty non-annoying options for operation.

As a performer I've rocked Stockholm (well, kind of) and Trundle (home of Australia's ABBA Festival) and I have the t-shirt to prove it. As a kid I liked ABBA but could never admit it to my then best friend at school. She hated ABBA (because her little sister liked ABBA). On the topic of ABBA my little sister and I were in concord. I digress.

Winter snowfall in the bottom of a piano. Nah. It's a treatment dispensed back in the day in our versions of 'the prairie'. It's a sure-fire clue that the piano has come from a rural area, from 'the bush' as it were. I call it superphosphate. My partner in piano pampering tells me it is paradichlorphosphate. It is a bug and weevil killer. I have tilted lower front board back toward me. It is blocking the view of the parts of the pedals that we are used to seeing.


Yuck. Just one of this piano's problems. The would-be musical weevils didn't stand a chance.

A different piano. Here paradichlorphosphate has been spritzed talc-style through the strings and action. This is not mold. I have plenty of examples of mold in pianos, but this is not mold.

We get a good upskirt view here. This piano is has been tilted onto its back ready for restringing. The bottom board (floor) of the piano and all associated pedal mechanisms have been removed. The floor of the piano would normally obstruct this clear view of the lowest part of the treble bridge.

I point the finger at the white powdery substance on the action.

Since I created a selfie scream-meme I find that every day something makes me feel (and look) like this.

I announced I was decluttering a mountain of mouthpieces that I do not use. I've kept the ones that get used with my various instruments, and a couple of others.

The rest? Kondoed.* An interstate mate visiting took the whole lot home in a swag...

...and has set about giving them useful jobs.

La Stupenda (Dame Joan Sutherland). She's back - in mug form. I was a member of the orchestra for her final operatic performance in 1990. After the encore there were fireworks released in the auditorium, actual fireworks. Not before, nor since.

What home is complete without a theremin?

I love that I thought of Clara Rockmore but my housemate thought of Kang and Kodos (the aliens from the Treehouse of Horror episodes of the Simpsons).

Homer: Space aliens, don't eat me! I have a wife and kids. Eat them!

When that theremin is not being pressed into duty I'm sure it could double as a clothes rack.

* The verb 'to kondo' has entered the lexicon. Marie Kondo (and Tonia Todman) are fully-fledged verbs in my world.


I invite you to sample some delicacies from around the blog...

Pianos: Talking dirty...

Pianos: Dirty secrets...

Pianos: Libraries, lemons and Lego.

Shopping is a contact sport

Moggies, murals, bikes and busking.

YouTube: Problem Pianos - Why pianos shouldn't drink

Soundcloud: Coffee Enema