David Boyce Piano Services


Piano Tuner in Inverclyde, Renfrewshire, Glasgow, the west of Scotland and beyond. 

Tel: 07714959806

Schumann Der Contrabandiste (arr Tausig).mp3

 Pianoddities 

A stroll among some less usual pianos.......

You and your family round the piano of an evening? 


Here are some unusual pianos.  These are not 'production' pianos manufactured for routine distribution and sale.  They are mostly one-offs; fascinating artisan work by individuals.  This is light-hearted but respectful look at some of them.

Did you deplore the tendency  in the 1960s and 1970s for upright pianos to get ever shorter? Are you glad that the trend now is for taller upright pianos?  Perhaps even the tallest of ordinary upright pianos isn’t quite tall enough for you however?  Maybe what you need is a piano that's twelve feet one inch tall, which you must climb upstairs to a platform to play?  You need the Klavins Model  370!  See and hear this remarkable instrument here .


(Photo reproduced by kind permission of David Klavins)

 

Is your ballroom just too large for any mainstream grand piano? You need something bigger? The English piano manufacturer Challen made a grand piano eleven foot eight inches long in 1935 but its current whereabouts are uncertain. Instead, how about a 12' 2" Model R-371 grand piano made by David Rubenstein, like this one:

Further details on Mr. Rubenstein's website

Some very nice renditions showing off the magnificent Rubenstein  R-371 are now on Youtube, and well worth a listen. Here's some Granados, beautifully played by Yana Reznik:

I like the clear sound of the Rubenstein.  Here's another piece, a Rachmaninov Prelude, that shows off the piano (as well as the playing!)


If even the Rubenstein isn't long enough, maybe you should consider the astonishing grand piano hand-built by a talented young man called Adrian Mann in new Zealand.  It's 18 feet 10 inches long: 


Even Adrian Mann's amazing piano isn't the longest!  Polish architect Daniel Czapiewski has build a gigantic piano that is 20 feet long:

You can see a little more of this piano and hear a short clip at this BBC News page.  


Is your concern less with the length of your piano than with a feeling that it has too few pedals? How about a Borgato Concert Grand L282 with pedalboard?  Learn more about Borgato pianos at  http://www.borgato.it/main_uk.htm  )
 

And here's a more recent and very lively performance on one of these extraordinary instruments, by extraordinary organist Cameron Carpenter: 

 

Perhaps you don’t care for more pedals, but you’d like more keys?

You might enjoy an Emanuel Moor Double Keyboard piano. This was invented by Moor in the early twentieth century and a few were built by several different manufacturers, notably Bechstein and Bosendorfer.  The single example ever made by Steinway has been restored and you can see it here: 

 

Maybe it’s not the number of keys that bothers you, but the design of the keyboard?  A Janko keyboard could be the answer for you!  There was even a reversible keyboard version which had a normal keyboard on one side and a Janko on the other.

Here's a clip of a four-row Janko keyboard in use, with an explanation of its operation: 

Interesting though the Janko keyboard is, fine pianists seem to manage well enough with the conventional keyboard.  Listen to the same piece, Kitten On The Keys by Zez Confrey, played superbly by Alan Feinberg.  This short extract is from a CD called  "Fascinatin' Rhythm", one of three by Feinberg on the Argo label (ARGO 444 457-2). Buy this, folks, if you can find it!  The ARGO label,owned by DECCA, a subsidiary of Universal Music, has re-surfaced offering online downloads, and hopefully they will add this to the online catalogue.

05 Kitten on the Keys.mp3

 

If it’s not the keys as such, but the number of tones, that you find inadequate, a Quarter Tone Piano might suit you. In his fascinating, entertaining, and warmhearted Memoirs, Earl Wild, one of the greatest piano masters of all time, refers to a Quarter Tone piano owned by a friend. You can see what one looked like here  (though the amazing quarter-tone keyboard music of Scott Crothers here is not being played on this particular instrument).

 

 

Or is it that you don't like the constraint of fixed tones at all? Your answer could be the unique Fluid Piano. Make your own pitches!

Could it be the hard texture of your piano's keys that bothers you? Maybe you need a piano with spongy keys, like the new Seaboard instrument: 

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Are you struggling to learn? Get some technique tips here, but remember to be less possessive of your piano than Nora is at the start:

If you're allergic  to cats, maybe getting the dogs to play for you will give you the motivation you need. The pitch recognition here is extraordinary! 

 

If you are fitness-conscious and feel that sitting playing Bach on a conventional piano is too sedentary, this might suit you better:

Or if you want to play without touching the keyboard at all, you could try this method:

 

When, after all your best efforts, you find that you just cannot get to grips with the piano at all, this may be your only remaining option:

Or you could try this quicker method: 

 

And then you can start again on another instrument, and rattle off your Bach like this:

Why settle for the pianormal folks? Don't be pianordinary ! Get youself one of the pianamazing instruments featured above!

Joking apart, although I have called this page Pianoddities, most of the developments featured above, represent the thoughtful endeavours of dedicated individuals with a keen interest in exploring and expanding the potential of the piano. Respect! (And total respect for Adam Fulara's astonishing Bach, above).

For those wanting to know about more regular pianos, the largest production grand pianos currently available as far as I know are the Bosendorfer Imperial Concert Grand, the Fazioli 308 Concert Grand and the Stuart & Sons Concert Grand.  It's debatable whether these should really be called production pianos; they are decidedly craft instruments made in small numbers.

Finally, have a look at another approach to making musical instruments. You will cry.....