Monday, January 21, 2013


I am looking through an old EXCEL spreadsheet I found on my laptop from when we first opened this thing up after I got it back from the junk shop that masqueraded as an antique shop. I had decided to make some notes about what was broken and what needed fixing.

On a musical instrument with 61 piano-style keys, a lot can not work. A total of 18 keys made no sound at all. That's a success rate of about 70%. Does that sound like a passing mark? The average chord and melody when playing a keyboard requires about 4 keys to work concurrently, so the chances are, that you would play a harmonically weakened chord or strike a horrible empty phantom note in your melody.

I'll admit that when I describe it like that it almost sounds intriguing, but playing a keyboard note in vain has to rank as one of the most soul sapping sensations imaginable. Of those 40 odd keys that produced a chime, very few produced a pleasant consistent, repeatable tone and few had a damping mechanism that worked at all. Looking at the filthy baby coffin sized box, it all seemed like a bit of a lost cause - a lost cause that I was sure I had been over charged for.

It's not like I could shop around for a better deal. At about one hundred years old, and relegated from all but the most niche musical ensembles, if you find an old dulcitone, you buy it.
If these probing torch lit photographs resemble some recently uncovered sunken treasure then you are not far off. There was a sense of a long undisturbed and very brittle find about the whole affair and early forays and views of the structure were beset with some trepidation of making a rather sorry situation a lot worse.

There was a lot of oxidation, desiccated leather, felt consumed by vermin, overstretched springs, missing or broken key components, evidence of wood worm infestation and about a century of caked on dust and cockroach poop. 

This was going to be a real task.

EDIT: Parts 2,3,4,5 and 6 of this story

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