Zorba's "Secret" Piano Page
Annual Tuning 2009
7 July 2009
Original edition Hipkins, 1896
Reprint of Rimbault, 2009, originally published 1860
The Piano Smith returns to perform the piano's annual tuning! The report: Tuning stability is now nudging into the "pretty good" range at 0 to 3 cents flat across most of the compass, rather than the still decent 8 cents it was flat last time. However, the uppermost two octaves were about 10 cents flat - a new development for this instrument. He's still not too happy with the keyboard leveling, just as he wasn't last year! I'll probably tweak it a bit more, but its plenty close enough for me, and I really need to rebush several wippens and/or other action parts before I get too worried about uber fine tuning key level. He was kind enough to go over the rebushing procedure with me (and give me a bit of cloth to do a few with), but he also made me realize that I need some more tools to "do it right", so I'll have to acquire same.
The two books pictured above beg some explanation. I've been acquiring, reading, and studying books on both piano technology as well as (and especially) piano history. I have a rather large library now. I purchased the reprint of the 1860 "The Pianoforte, Its Origin, Progress, and Construction" by Edward F. Rimbault earlier this year. The much newer "History of the Pianoforte" by A.J. Hipkins (1896) however, was much harder to find. Hipkins is quoted in just about every subsequent book that touches on piano history (including Dolge, 1911), but is rather hard to find. Although it has been reprinted numerous times, I ended up purchasing an original edition from the UK (Hipkins was a Brit, as was Rimbault). Hipkins in turn quotes Rimbault, Daniel Spillane (History of the American Pianoforte, 1890), and most especially Fetis; whose work is the earliest known on the subject of piano history (c. 1830) and is my next quest to find same in a very rare translation from the original French.
For the curious, Hipkins presented a whitepaper to the Society of Arts, London on 19 May 1883 (more than a decade before his famous book, and antedating Spillane as well), "The History of The Pianoforte" subsequently published in Scientific American. Fortunately, this whitepaper is available at this website. I've seen it elsewhere, but sometimes not the complete text, and in no other case does it have the original illustrations as it does at the referenced site.