Farewell さようなら


A few weeks ago I said farewell to an old friend. I had my Yamaha Clavinova electric piano for over 20 years and it had moved around Japan with me a number of times. But the keys were beginning to stick. Plus, I had long wanted to have a “real” piano. At last, the opportunity arose to make the change.

I pondered long and hard over whether to keep or dispose of my Clavinova. There were many memories attached to it … not least it being the keyboard on which I doodled the ideas for all of my completed pieces apart from the first two (which were written before I ever came to Japan). However, what was the point, apart from a little sentimental value?

Therein lay the problem. The sentimental value was not that deep. While I marvel at the technology that goes into making an electronic piano, I just cannot feel the same attachment to it as I can to a real piano. With a real piano, I can peer inside to see how my finger causes the hammer to hit a string, generating vibrations and a beautiful sound. The instrument feels like an extension of my body, and the sound feels like my voice. But with an electronic piano, after pressing a key the electronic parts do something I neither see nor understand before the sound somehow comes out of a speaker. It feels like I am speaking through an interpreter.

This corporeal connection with “physical” instruments is why I have never been tempted to write anything for “electronic” instruments … There is no point in denying one’s inner voice. I love listening to rock, jazz and other genres, and marvel at the musicianship of those who perform on electrical instruments. But I can only speak in the language that comes naturally. That is classical for “physical” instruments.

When I sit down at my new piano, I feel connected to it as an instrument. I look forward to the day when it has that sentimental value that can only come from being the instrument that has “shared” a composition with me. As we approach the end of an incredibly difficult year, I have made a good start …

28 November 2020