Friday, September 16, 2005

Sonic Addiction

You know what I think would be a great name for a band? Volume 26.

Anyway, a few weeks back in Shanghai, I met a brother of an uncle who wanted to buy a piano for his daughter. The Chinese way of getting things done is to find somebody in the family (or the friend of somebody in the family) who is an expert at what you want and then get their advice on it. So it was I got "dragged" into selecting a piano for this family. I say "dragged" because testing and selecting a piano for me is like a kid in a candy store. After testing out all the lower echelon selections and fulfilling my blood oath at a Yamaha dealership, I went next door to a Steinway dealership. Now excuse me as I wax enthusiastic, anthropomorphic, and avec fromage.

Heaven! And with Saint Peter nowhere in sight! Instead, I ask an angel (presumedly) if I could try out the pianos. She says yes. That makes her an angel, which means I am definitely in heaven. Working my way from the front of the store to the back, I alight my fingers upon keys connected to soundboards of increasing size and greater sound quality. Near the back of the store is a glass room with omgomgomg!!!

Steinway D 9' Concert Grand!

My heart jumps up to my right scapula and the rest of my internal organs instantly realign to compensate. I utter a barely contained request to the angel if I could try out the piano.

Ambiguous response, but it sounds positive. No. Impossible. How can anyone waltz in an expect to be given permission to play on the concert grand? I ask again, half cursing at myself for my own stupidity. Why not assume a yes and then take it from there? Oh well, it can't hurt to hear the response.


Angel or no she was no longer of any consequence to my world. Sit down on the bench. No. Must sit straighter. This piano deserves the best that I can give. Touch middle C with a firm but gentle middle finger of the right hand. Instant bliss. The time for slow, focused appreciation of sound was over. Fast forward to drawing torrents of sound out of the keyboard and boy does it deliver. The treble is bright, sharp, but does not grate on the ears. The bass is deeper than the reaches of interstellar space and just as wide and expansive. In short, this is what I idealize when I think of the sound of a piano.

I tried out a variety of pieces on that divine beast and eventually left my temporary steed giddy with delight but also sad at the impending departure. It was love at first hearing and our short relationship was passionate. I can only look forward to the day when we'll meet again.

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