WISDOM: A PORTRAIT SERIES
R O Y M A R T I N
Recording Studio Piano Technician
I. I've been tuning pianos since I was Twenty and you know what? I never tire of it, never get bored of it. When I was a child the piano tuner would come and after he left I would play and ask my mum “What did he do? It's magic!” Mum had no idea and so I just had to be a magician too. Some people meditate to chill out. I just tune pianos and the world's ok.
II. We need to talk more about Acoustic Pianos. I'm nearly always disappointed when a great artist uses a digital piano rather than an acoustic one. Sufjan Stevens did the Meltdown festival this year at the Royal Festival Hall; he tours with a piano. The most extraordinary gig of this year by miles. Sure he used a Prophet or a Moog and did what they do best. Fat power, sweeping, orchestral, Bladerunner panoramas but real acoustic instruments are complex and more visceral to play. They enhance the task of taking your soul and delivering it into the hearts of your audience. I cried at that gig; a rare event in such a public place.
III. I have supported a local initiative that brought a piano to the station at Herne Hill Station London where I live, for anyone to play. I tune and repair it as best I can and there are bands and singers, workers, shoppers, children and wannabe bands that play it. There is an event where it is used outside in summer as accompaniment for a silent film. Hundreds attend and a short film was made: The People's Piano. It's on Vimeo and was entered in several film festivals. There were plans for a full feature film about the history, influence and decline of the everyday piano. The life affirming effect on a community it has, the way people smile and relax when they hear it. We tried crowd-funding it but didn't reach the target. I would love the support to be instrumental in making that happen. It all started when artist Luke Jerram installed his 'Play Me I'm Your's' project in cities across the world. Our little hamlet managed to wrestle a piano from the big bad city and it has transformed the ambience of a little Victorian corner of south London. Then came a very cool lady called Maureen Ni Fann who contacted Luke Jerram's office and worked with the community organisers to promote the piano, make the short film and being inspired by the street piano movement started filming the trailer for the larger project. It has a birthday party every year! I would love to see this film made and enlist some artists to feature playing and being interviewed. The piano was at the heart of most ordinary homes but since the rise in technology pianos have been abandoned and homes aren't big enough for everyone to own one. There is a story to be told about the rise of the street piano movement and I would love to help tell it.
IV. I am for more female piano tuners and technicians.