At the recent Ludovico Einaudi concert we noticed that he had a strip of little LEDs attached to the lid of the piano to illuminate the keyboard when the house lights went down. Our attention was drawn to it because halfway through one of the songs the end of the strip came free and started dangling down, requiring a stagehand to pop on in-between songs to tape it back into position. My wife suggested that I could get a similar strip for our piano, so that I can play in the dark late at night, and it got us thinking what other things could you add to the piano to help you. So in the spirit of the MTV programme Pimp my Ride, that sees old cars being ‘tarted-up’* I bring you Pimp My Piano. (I’ve never actually seen the American version of Pimp my Ride, only the UK version that was hosted by Lee Westwood. I’m sure all of you are familiar with Mr Westwood’s work, but in case you are not, he’s a white British DJ in his 30’s who talks like he is a black American rapper/gangster. Nobody at all thinks this is ridiculous**). Anyway I digress, back to my piano.
As well as the strip of lights along the top of the keyboard, I thought that it should have a cup-holder at one side of the keyboard. Being British I am never very far away from a cup of tea. At the moment my tea goes on the top of the piano (always on top of a book of music or other heat resistant barrier). The problem with this is that I get so engrossed in playing that more often than not by the time I look up and remember that I had a brew, it has usually gone cold. The other side of the keys would have a sandwich holder, so that when I get a little peckish I always have something to nibble on.
The next thing that needs fitting would be a mechanical page-tuner. This would help eliminate those awkward pauses that come at the moment as I get to the end of a page. I’ve yet to work out how this would work, so I welcome any suggestions… I did think that I could embed a screen/tablet in the centre of the piano, page turns could then be achieved by a sweep of the hand over the touch-screen. However I like the idea of a more ‘Wallace and Gromit*** aesthetic.
Another arm would be attached to the piano, which could reach out and rub/scratch a nose. How else are you to get to that annoying itch mid-performance?
An extra-loud pedal would come in handy for when you want to wake up the neighbours at 06:30 in revenge for them rolling up home noisily and drunk at 03:00. This could also be used in conjunction with my final ‘modification’, the Random-key pedal. Which on depression rearranges the keys and hammers differently each time to play different strings. A great tool for those improvised avant-garde jazz sessions that you didn’t know you could play (and will never be able to re-create).
Click on the below image for a mock-up of how it could look.
I’m sure there are lots of other things that I could, and should, add over time and am happy to hear of anything else that you can recommend…..
* More often than not the resulting cars were gawdy and fairly tacky.
** OK, most people think this is ridiculous.
*** Wallace and Gromit are a British stop-frame clay-mation creation of Aardman Animations.