Mar 17

The Piano in the Street


The dirty concrete I lie on makes my back ache, but the notes echoing inside the piano provide soothing relief. I gaze up at the weathered black casing, which must have once been so shiny it was able to reflect the light of the sun suspended in the blue sky. The three legs of the piano surround me, providing the protective barrier that I am sprawled in. Although the bottom of the piano blocks my view of the cloudy sky, I like it better this way. If lightning illuminates the heavens, if gray clouds hurtle themselves over the mountains, I’ll never know. I’ll just gaze up at the piano, letting my body absorb the echoing notes.

The beautiful ivory keys are gently pushed down, exposing the wood on the sides, and then they are released again. When I gaze at the keys, the movement looks like the waves and eddies of a river flowing, up and down, a river that continues on forever. The scuffed shoes of the maestro tap to the beat, sometimes slow and soulful, sometimes spritely with little trills in between. The shoes press the pedal and instantly blend the notes together, creating a deep echo as if I was lying under a piano at the bottom of a valley littered with cliffs. Whole notes mournfully ring out, always there, always the underlying tone to the bouncy, crisp staccato notes. The worn fingertips travel to the lower keys, and a rich sound full of soothing soul is produced. Scales flutter and flow to the top of the piano, and high notes sing out joy, like birds in the springtime. Black keys, the contrast between a string of white, ring out happiness, while minor keys provide haunting tones and ghostly howls.

If I peer through the cracks in the piano, I can see the strings vibrating as hammers knock on the edges. The music seems so simple, but inside is a bustling world, similar to the complexity of an ant farm. Strings and holes edged in red velvet, hammers and spikes, stretch and flow across the black open field of the piano. Eighty-eight keys provide eighty-eight different opportunities to create what we call music: and although a fancy concert hall covered in tapestries which cathedral ceilings welcomed the notes of Mozart, I think the open street is a much better place to share this gift of music.