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Salubrious Sound Salon – 9 Piano Improvisations

Under the Piano: Photo by Rachel Lando

Under the Piano: Photo by Rachel Lando

Prelude – First Improvisation from the Sound Salon

[audio:01-Sound-Salon-Prelude-Improv.mp3]

Well…  I’m absolutely delighted with my first Sound Salon. There were 4 guests. Catherine, Nicole, Blaise and Teya. I shared the history of Under the Piano and how I came to be doing this novel enterprise. Then we chatted a little about sound and how we experience it. I explained that the music playing on my stereo in the background was recordings of actual Under the Piano sessions. That was one way to “hear” and experience music produced by my piano. Then I sat at the piano and improvised a prelude as the guests sat and listened. That was another way to “hear” and experience music produced by my piano – sitting beside it. Then each guest had a turn to lie under the piano and enjoy 8 to 10 minutes of improvisations. That was a whole new way to “hear” and experience music produced by my piano – lying under it.

Catherine’s Improvisations  [audio:02-Sound-Salon-Catherine.mp3]

The guests shared a number of experiences after their mini session. WOW! was present quite often. Walking on beaches, trances, time stopping, bodies continuing to vibrate after the music stopped, the paradox of being both relaxed and energised, not wanting to come out from under the piano, and many more delightful and positive experiences were expressed.

Why is listening to a piano while lying underneath it so amazing? Consider how we listen to music. Look around and you will see people with tiny little ear buds stuck in their ears. Increasingly, we listen to music with less and less of our body. With ear bud headphones, we don’t even listen with our entire ear anymore. Beyond that, most of us listen to music on home stereo systems. If you have a good stereo and you turn the volume way up, you will likely have experienced feeling/hearing the bass notes with your body. You can feel the notes pulsing against your chest. Then, a smaller number of us actually play instruments. Those who play harps or guitars can feel the vibrations of the music as the instrument rests against their bodies. When you lie under a grand piano you experience the vibration of music to a degree that is beyond your imagination. The piano produces more vibrations than any other acoustic instrument. There is a lot of vibrational potential hiding in a piano. To give you an inkling, an average grand piano, like mine, has 230 strings. Each string has about 165 pounds of tension. The combined pull of all those strings is 18 TONS! (Fun piano facts) That’s 18 tons of tension hiding in a piano that weighs only 550 lbs. A grand piano looks so innocently docile as it sits there, seemingly so still, in your living room. Yet is is an animal waiting to reveal that 18 tons of tension IN sound. The whole piano quivers and vibrates when it’s played. That’s why lying under a grand piano is an amazing experience. Your entire body receives a flood of vibrations from the piano.

Blaise’s Improvisations  [audio:03-Sound-Salon-Blaise.mp3]

We hear with our bodies. Yet we live in a world that is reproducing music with ever smaller devices. Ear buds are cheating you of a profoundly elemental aspect of listening to music. Gone are the days of sitting around a fire at night and being bathed in the vibrations of drums and real acoustic instruments. If you don’t believe you can hear with your body, you have not heard of Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Evelyn Glennie is a Grammy Award winning musician who is internationally recognised. She plays with major symphony orchestras.

She is also profoundly deaf. (Read her Hearing Essay to find out what that means). Hop on over to TED.com to watch this unbelievable artist in action.

Nicole’s Improvisations [audio:04-Sound-Salon-Improvisations-4-5-Nicole.mp3]

Back to the Sound Salon. My intention was to create an opportunity for people to get a small taste of what a full 1 hour Under the Piano experience would be like and then they would know if booking a full session was something they would like to do. I was thinking it would be a fun but mildly entertaining experience for the guests. But my guests have convinced me otherwise. The whole experience was delightful in and of itself. So I’ll be doing more Sound Salons. Likely one or two a month. It is an opportunity to see if you would like to book a full session, but it is also a delightful occasion in its own right.

Call me to book and host your own Sound Salon. Last night, we agreed that this would be ideal for a maximum of 6 guests and that it’s likely best if everyone knows each other. The total cost is $150 for the 2 hour Sound Salon. You get to choose if you wish to treat your friends to the Sound Salon or if you wish to sell tickets. I’ll explain the benefits and advantages you get for hosting a Sound Salon.

The recordings you’ve seen sprinkled through this post are the improvisations I performed last night. They are here for you to enjoy. But, as you listen, imagine you are lying under a piano and your entire body is being bathed in the vibrations of a 550 lb instrument that contains 18 tons of energy.

Teya’s Improvisations [audio:06-Sound-Salon-Improvisations-6-7-Teya.mp3]

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