Flat, smooth and perfectly even!

 

 

  psaltery + angel

 

You are just there close to my inclined eyes, but I can’t look at your radiance, your compelling body working so brilliantly for you, because I have to watch the patterns my fingers imprint on the black and white keys.  I regret this deeply. I try to jump away from them to just prize your eyes to mine. But I console myself that our eye beams have been long twisted together, spiralling, since our spirits leapt into these two borrowed vessels, mine and yours, from the cerulean blue.  The visible can never compete with the storm of sound vibrations after all. We both know this fact and live by it.

You are daring, so daring, in front of so many people, at the party to mark the beginning of a completely New Year! But I can’t see any of the reaction of our audience members, can’t even feel them.  The sounds and the patterns absorb us both utterly, so much so that most humans can never understand or experience it.  The audience is one giant voyeur standing getting ready for the countdown to the New Year! They are spectres to us adorned in fairy lights and paper decorations, clutching clinking glasses to suck on, their spirits locked into their flesh. In fact, I would go as far as to say that they have permanently occupied their skin sack and rarely move outside it.

You slant your head to rest your attractive cheek on the intense reflection in the mahogany case, French polished like glass or a paralysed tropical pond, and the reflection is visible to me if I blink and squint a little. Your cleavage and one of your exposed breasts lean out of your silver-leaf dress to forage for the cool of the ivory-toothed beast, and really it would seem that the top of a magnificent grand piano with its kidney curves was custom made for the writhings and song-smithing of a beautiful woman.  I just can’t look away from the patterns, but I can feel these curvaceous lines matched with my own breast, as we breathe together.

 

sound board

 

 

The sound board, one huge diaphragm stretching across the belly of this instrument of perfection is beneath you, handcrafted by Steinway experts. Piano makers brave the snows and blizzards to seek out the Sitka Spruce, meticulously selected with between 8 and 12 rings per inch, the more rings the more resonant. Sitka is in Alaska, the trees growing more than 50 metres in height with trunks of over 2 metres in diameter, their old-growth free of knots. They grow closely together to exclude light so that no other plants can thrive and interrupt their growth.

Once planed and sanded to perfection, this board for sound is lowered into the body of the piano, its bent rim made of indestructible rock maple which creates the barrier to stop the vibrations escaping once I create them. This takes a whole day, a small crane and the full attention of several ‘belly’ men before the stringing is done. Sitka Spruce keeps out all interferences and makes a perfect basking pool for vibrations. This is my heart.

I have been waiting for your diaphragm all this time because my own has ceased to function, given over to chain smoking. My man body is pale and unhealthy, powdered inside and out with nicotine, hardly breathing at all these days as human life and its pointlessness stunt me. I must say that you so naturally breathe in perfect synchrony with the shiny beast, diaphragms superbly matched. And once again, I can start to “breathe” through you as my dream promised.

 

diaphragm

 

The finger and thumb patterns of my engaged made-for-it hands move on apace, the most fascinating of all phenomena. Fingers wriggle meaninglessly, bending or flattening, squeezing together to execute a rapid change of location. The wrist rocks like a supersonic pendulum. The finger tips are masters of their strings deep inside the belly.  Long thumbs inch from side to side notching along the horizontal plane with blind precision. I am these relentless patterns, so they are effortless, and I dive into them, swimming like a tropical flash into a million connotations and probabilities. I never once stop to ask a single question of why this shape or that, this intensity or that, this speed or that, why this formation. After all, what good are questions when you are a piano.

 

vocalist

 

You heavenly vocalist, squirm to mirror my hand patterns exactly, imitating me blindly, superbly. Then you transpose your head presenting me with your legs portrayed through a deep slit, the silver shining up your tanned articulate thighs, your calves, the strong bones of your shins making the flesh seem polished, sculpted. You have no single inhibition because this is the final performance and so you will pulse with your true nature.  There are no masks, no coverings, nothing reserved.

Nothing and no-one is driving this sublime music: we both create it without any of the rational explanation or analysis which the audience assumes.  They are certainly assuming that we have rehearsed for thousands of hours, perfecting phrases, restoring and rebuilding their contours, and intensifying tone and colour by experimenting a million times and using our critical judgement to choose exactly the right ones.  They are assuming that we have practised for hours, me executing physical gymnastics with the fingers and forearms and for you performing repeated vocal miracles and feats of breath and diaphragm control.  They do not know or have any inkling that we never practise and never rehearse together.

‘Practise?’ ‘Rehearsal?’ These two words have come to dominate the world of neurotic and slightly insane musicians who give up everything else in life for their ‘art,’ but truly they are robots motivated only by precision and technique.  Practise makes perfect! What a facile meaningless maxim when most people never perform in their entire lifetime, keeping themselves back because they are ‘not ready,’ not ‘good enough.’ Many are still practising on their deathbed having decided that they will perform in the next life or for the worms.

To rehearse is an act of the murder of spirits. How can music have become so mechanical, so prescribed. How can human beings have so high-handedly subjugated the ‘Music of the Spheres?’ This places us always at the side of our lives instead of in the centre of existence, embodying them as it was meant to be.  We are taught to never be ready to give everything; to always keep things back for another time.  But we both have managed to sidestep this stinginess. We perform constantly. There is no break from it, no holiday, no time put aside to practise, no separation.

 

the spheres

 

Your beautiful blond fecund head is, once more, adjacent to mine and the rapid arpeggios and wide chords which expand my span to its limits forge on. Now we both look down from above at the lightning speed patterns streaming from my fingertips mixing ourselves in with them as we soak up the vibrations we are embodying.

We notice vaguely at the periphery patches of arousal along our skin, the hair pores tingling and swelling to make what they call ‘gooseflesh.’ I have no idea why we have to be distracted from the ways sound can arouse us by a skittish land bird reputed to lay golden eggs. Why can’t we allow ourselves to embody our arousal in the raised pores of a human being capable of making the most divine sounds ever known on the Earth?

I don’t have to tell you anything. No pencil markings scribbled in the score like a shopping list. No knowing looks as we approach a tempo or key change. No foot tapping or lead up.  It’s simple. I make fractals with my fingers on the glassy keys while you drape them in vocal jewels produced from the operating of the chords at your throat. The very mention of your throat makes me wince as I imagine the appalling crime of cutting throats so popular today; the opening of your taught skin, slicing muscle and nibbling bone and the jewels come spilling out with the blood. The human throat has to be the most miraculous product of evolution and at the same time the most vulnerable and visceral, uniquely fragile.

You tell me you feel the same way about my fingers being cut through on a wooden board, the razor blade rocked from point to the main body, rolling through the flesh until the blade is flat along the board the digital obstruction easily shifted.  But you need have no worries because I would find another way to articulate my patterns.  They must flow; they must fill the universe. I am the piano. My man resonances could never stay inside a body shape, unable to be vertical, insisting on stretching, radiating across the soundboard pool, muffled into silence by the felt dampers and then thrilled and free when they are lifted away by my toe-tapping pedal.

And we have found a way to escape from the barbed enclosure of ‘time’ and ‘space.’ The final performance is eternal, and I can fly my piano body anywhere with you impinged on its top. Our music never stops.  It is not dependent on an audience though we attract them, and they pay our milk and addiction bills.  They whisper ‘genius,’ ‘they were made for each other,’ and,  ‘what talent!’ thinking we cannot hear but forgetting or ignorant of, as most people are about pianos, the science of the hundreds of strings strung over the soundboard pool catching every sound when the felts are lifted. So their prosaic words are unfortunately transmitted along the strings too and we must ignore them.

 

Cristofiori

                                                                            Cristofiori: inventor of the piano 16th century

 

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This is the opening to a new book I am writing about the miracle of the piano and the mysterious way it was invented.
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