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. For years, 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’s no music at all left in this carcass as it melts away.

Amazingly, this almost abandoned piano still has a job to do sitting outside a place that gives music lessons. It hasn’t been completely thrown away like some others in my Piano Gallery. Nowadays, it doesn’t earn a living making music, this upright piano works 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 reflectors kept in the back of the truck. Using a little teamwork, my brother held one to bounce 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 metal harp in great detail. There’s another horizontal view of this wreck of an abandoned piano called Less Than Grand Piano #14903. A lot more of the innards can be seen in that picture due to the lower shooting angle. In both, the uneven rickety keyboard with lopped off black keys adds a lot of interest. That’s a cool feature for a picture like this one.

Despite the cold, we enjoyed ourselves making worthwhile images of this unique find, thanks to the tip-off from a friend. You might be surprised to hear I’ve never really sought out pianos to photograph. Most of the time, they’ve just come as happenstance while going about photographing other things. The two images created of this funky instrument were welcome and ones to have gathered and I enjoyed the challenge too.

Location: Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks

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