Saturday, May 12, 2012

Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1307

by Drew Martin
Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 is a fascinating look into the making of a Steinway grand piano at the company's factory in Queens, New York. L1037 takes a year to make with the skill of hundreds of workers and 12,000 parts. This documentary shows a logging operation/mill in Alaska where a Steinway representative selects the planks of lumber that will be used for the bodies and sound boards of pianos. Another scene captures the delivery of a Steinway to a family where a grandson plays for his relatives, which includes his grandfather. The old man speaks about the continuity of his life through his grandson's musical talent. There are interviews with numerous musicians who talk about the personality of each piano and we see just how fussy some of the best concert pianists can be.  The most interesting interviews are with the workers. Some of them are sound technicians but many of them are very physical craftspeople who speak about the importance of the sense of touch to their work and an overall immeasurable quality of human involvement in the process. What is stressed towards the end of the film, and which you accumulate an appreciation for from the start is the knowledge of the workers, which must be passed on through apprenticeship.