Broken Ballad #14851

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The Story

Here is a nearly abandoned piano left outside to be seasoned by the elements, and you can easily tell it knows a lot about the weather. Its been under deep snow and long soaking rains and it shows. The bright days of summer sun have fully baked it too, and the well weathered wood and chipped white keyboard speak of lonely wear. It is still holding together and standing, but there is no music left in this carcass. Worn away are some words to use.

Amazingly, this almost abandoned piano still has a job to do by sitting outside a place that gives music lessons. It hasn’t been completely thrown away like some others in my piano portfolio. Nowadays, it doesn’t earn a living making music, it’s in advertising for people to see driving by. Years ago, someone had let the music lesson kids paint the sides with their colorful artwork, but that was nearly weathered away too.

A friend had told me about this relic, so my brother and I went over to see it one winter afternoon in deep cold. We discovered the sunlight was coming from behind the piano which was going to be a problem, but I had the fix: there are usually reflectors kept in the back of the truck. Using a little teamwork, my brother held one to redirect the light over the keyboard and back into the inner workings. My cold fingers operated the camera. Making this picture would have been a lot harder without the extra hands of a voice-activated reflector stand!

Actually, using a reflector turned out to be an advantage for seeing into the blackness of the inner workings. In this image, you can see the hammers and harp in reddish metal. There’s another horizontal view of this just about abandoned piano called Less Than Grand Piano #14903 here where a lot more of the innards can be seen due to the lower shooting angle. In both, the uneven rickety keyboard with lopped off black keys adds a lot of interest.

All in all and despite the cold, we enjoyed ourselves making worthwhile images of this unique find, thanks to the tip-off from a friend. I’ve never really sought out pianos to photograph. Over the years, they’ve just come along here and there as I went about photographing other things. The two images created of this instrument were a welcome and interesting addition and I enjoyed the challenge too.

Location: Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Image and text © Andrew Dierks

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