Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fine tuning

I'm about to get all metaphorical on you, for you see, the piano tuner came today and as I sat in my office, visibly wincing at the discordant sounds as he started the process of tuning I couldn't help but think of the process of editing.

My piano is an old dunger, rescued from an orchard shed somewhere in Hawkes Bay and it has done me years of loyal service and been dragged halfway around the countryside with our various shifts. It's sound is robust, loud even and most definitley out of tune, but not too badly out of tune with itself. It has big cracks in the panelling, and corners are chipped of the piano keys courtesy of someone's children over the years (not my own) but it's my piano, and I love it and I can't imagine life without one.

The tuner came today because I came to the realisation that no, Hubby wasn't going to buy me a new piano for my mumbleth birthday, that all subtle and unsubtle hints had gone unheeded, and I was going to have to enjoy the company of the clanger for a few years to come.

So where's the metaphorical stuff you ask?

I was listening to the discordant notes, which started from the first tap of a key and turn of his tuning device and thought about how when you finish the first draft of your manuscript, it seems to all fit together, to be in tune with itself, be a melodious whole. But then you look closer, and make an adjustment here, which then makes the next note seem a little sharp or flat, a little grating, so that too needs a tweak, so you do that, and the two sound great together, but they don't sit right with the next passage, so you set to reworking that, and you look ahead at the vastness of the entire manuscript and think, bl**dy-hell I've got a hell of a lot of adjustment to do here.

But as with any process, it takes time and patience to work your way along the keyboard, making sure the words sound right, so that passages together make harmonious chords, and link together to form the melody, that the tempo ebbs and flows, the intensity moves with the story you want to tell, carries you, propels you forward.

And it all begins from tuning, one key at a time, listening carefully and trusting that when you get to the end, it will be a sweet, harmonious whole.


Bookman Beattie said...

I had an old piano like that, my parents had bought it for the family, second hand, way back in the 50's. Two years ago I gave it to one of my daughters and it now lives in their holiday home on Waiheke Island where it brings great joy to another generation.
And we have small sleek electronic "piano" that fits better in our smaller home.

Anonymous said...

Well, if hubby decides to splash out and buy a new electronic keyboard or something or other ... I just might know of a good deal or two, and we have a store in Dunedin too.


And yes, piano tuning is quite painful to listen to.

David Batterbury said...

Now why didn't my name appear above there?

Vanda Symon said...

I can't get my head around the electronic pianos. I like the mechanics of finger hitting key, key moving hammer, hammer hitting string thing.

Does the Rock Shop do unplugged pianos Dave?