“There’s an upright piano of the corner of your street”

Was the text I received from a neighbor who knows that a) I’m a musician and b) I absolutely love sampling and recording strange and unusual sounds. So I walked down 3 houses to the corner and sure enough there was this old abandoned beauty:

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I looked around and saw no one around. And at that moment, the abandoned piano became a found piano. Just then, another neighbor was waking his dog and asked “What are you doing Jon?”. I replied “I think I just found a piano!”. He asked if it worked (I hadn’t played it yet), so I lifted the cover which revealed all of the keys intact. I did a short run through of the verse of “Let It Be” and in all of its out-of-tune glory, the piano actually worked. It had a nice resonance to it, and for a brief moment I was a street musician.

He was kind enough to lend me a hand (and his appliance dolly) and we moved it to my property. As the French Knight in the Holy Grail said “It’s quite nice”.

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Like most of the found instruments I’ve found or have been given, I’ll cart this found piano into my studio and sample it, in all of it’s out of tune, scary nightmarish greatness. I’ll do some John Cage treatments to it too and see what kind of percussion magic I can conjure up.

 

 

Most objects usually speak out rhythms and patterns to me as I’m doing these sound design sessions, and with two of the water heater panels in front of me, this rhythm emerged. It will inevitably end up on a future piece of music. Captured by my son on an iPhone:



One man’s trash is another man’s excuse for a sampling session. After dismantling our old water heater (we upgraded to a tankless system), the old enclosure panels were screaming to be heard.

I talked my son and his friend into helping me out, and I quickly put them to work. Grabbing my trusty ‘hazard mics’ (a pair of Tascam TM-78s), and some long Canare mic cables, I pushed record in Pro Tools and let the sampling begin….

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The kids had fun banging on metal and making lots of noise.

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I of course got to be a kid too, and smashed up some metal and also created some thunder:

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