I casually stalk a local auction company – they have auctions every week and usually have goods ex insurance claims, deceased estates, or embassy furniture etc… Very occasionally something interesting appears… Today was that day!
They post photos for the next auction on Facebook, so I usually have a quick look through them and the wood grain on an old piano caught my eye… We’ve all seen sad old pianos for sale in junk stores and it usually doesn’t take long to realise they are often a project that are not worth taking on but this one stopped me in my tracks! Look at that wood grain! Someone really took care to select those beautiful pieces of wood…
They described it as a 1930s Kemble Piano, so yesterday I drove over to their showroom and had a quick check of it. As expected it needs a tune and every note except 1 played well… I found the serial number:
Using this site I could work out that this piano was built in 1937, and a bit of history: “Kemble was founded in 1911 in London, by Michael Kemble, Kemble then later moved to Milton Keynes in 1968 they remained there until they shut down production in the UK and moved to the far east in 2009 , In 1986 Kemble entered into a joint partnership with Yamaha, In 1988 Yamaha had purchased controlling shares in Kemble and later bought the whole company in 2009…”
So far so good… Physically it is a small upright piano, with 85 keys not 88, but that suits me as my lounge/studio space is more than a little crowded… But best of all my research indicated Kemble make very good quality pianos… But what would it sell for? My research indicated a reasonable price for it might be $1k but I was hoping no one else had bothered to research it. I turned up to the auction a little early & was trying to see if I could detect any potential piano bidders… Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long as the piano was lot #6. Bidding started at $100. I held off bidding to see who was interested. Two people slowly bid it up to $160, so I decided to try to intimidate them & started instantly countering every bid from then on… And my tactic worked – they both gave up at $250. AWESOME!!!
Now how to get it home? I called a rental company I have used before and they luckily had a small truck with a hydraulic lift on the back so I went & picked it up… Drove back to the auction house, picked up my new piano and drove home – up my scary steep driveway and unloaded it into my car port. Returned the truck, and then spent 2 hours very slowly moving the piano up the path and into my lounge!
I cannot wait to get it tuned – it has really beautiful mellow tone, but I need to leave it for a week or so to settle in and adjust to the climate…. What an amazing find – a beautiful 83 year old piano.
Amazing to get it for less than the cost of a single eurorack module!
Instruments for sound effects, Southern California, 1931
Love this 1931 photo ex USC Digital Libraries
ref: Instruments for sound effects, Southern California, 1931
What an awesome room full of sound generators!
FWIW I found the photo using googles new dataset search engine
Ever since finding it I keep revisiting this photo, trying to work out what each object does…
At a first glance you almost don’t notice the person in the back area of the studio:
He appears to be playing a thunder sheet and is surrounded by large gong-like objects
But that front table – what a collection!
To the right of the performer there is a table of bells, and further right a set of tone bars or tubular bells?
What are those circular biscuit tins mounted on a pole?
On the left it seems there is a table of metal pipes & beams… but what is that giant S for? I wonder if it is resonating chamber of some kind? It makes me think of Luigi Russolo Art of Noise – see Manifesto here and more info on first of his Intonarumori, the Scoppiatore
Of course long before foley artists for cinema existed, people had been creating sound effects for theatre and radio… check this theatre set up:
Some more info and examples of radio sound effects is here
Feel free to comment if you can identify any of the objects in the photo?
A while ago I was in the Wellington public library and came across a collected book of panoramic photos, mostly featuring international photographers, but as soon as I spotted a NZ landscape photo sure enough the credits specific Apse as the photographer, and as it was not a recent book I was also interested to see the equipment specified – a Fuji large format panoramic camera….
Anyway, I follow Apse on Facebook and what a roller coaster he has been on recently: