Play Me, I’m Yours! [Street Pianos]

I was on the phone with a friend lately. She was in Paris and suddenly said: “You might hear a piano, there’s one in the middle of the train station.”

And then I remembered something I heard the day before: indeed, there are pianos in the streets of Paris so that anybody can play them. This concept is actually an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram.

So here you go, walking through Paris’ streets, and you find a piano, curiously decorated by an artist. Intriguing. And suddenly, someone does not resist any longer, just sits and plays. And people gather, listen. And conversations are born between people who might not even have noticed each other otherwise.

I thought it would be great to share it with you, since the concept seems wonderful to me.

The idea for ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ came from visiting my local launderette. I saw the same people there each weekend and yet no one talked to one another. I suddenly realised that within a city, there must be hundreds of these invisible communities, regularly spending time with one another in silence. Placing a piano into the space was my solution to this problem, acting as a catalyst for conversation and changing the dynamics of a space.

Luke Jerram, creator of ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’

Now, instead of copy-pasting another website or writing a digest from it, I guess it is more useful to send you see the information directly at their source:

Darwin’s rules also apply to the music. Do they, though?

DarwinTunes offers a great experiment, trying to prove that music evolves through selection, just as Darwin described about organics. Here is the presentation from their front page:

The organic world – animals, plants, viruses – is the product of Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Natural selection expresses the idea that organisms (more accurately their genes) vary and that variability has consequences. Some variants are bad and go extinct; others are good and do exceptionally well. This process, repeated for two billion years, has given us the splendours of life on earth.

It has also given us the splendours of human culture. This may seem like a bold claim, but it is self-evidently true. People copy cultural artifacts – words, songs, images, ideas – all the time from other people. Copying is imperfect: there is “mutation”. Some cultural mutants do better than others: most die but some are immensely successful; they catch on; they become hits. This process, repeated for fifty thousand years, has given us all that we make, say and do; it is the process of “cultural evolution”.

However, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. For example, how important is human creative input compared to audience selection? Is progress smooth and continuous or step-like? We set up DarwinTunes as a test-bed for the evolution of music, the oldest and most widespread form of culture; and, thanks to your participation, we’re starting to get answers.

However, I am doubtful as for the validity of the conclusions drawn from this study, or at least from what I heard on radio this morning. Continue reading Darwin’s rules also apply to the music. Do they, though?

Maybe I’ll play… or maybe not.

It’s been long since I developed that craving for an artistic ability. Drawing? Two left hands. Writing? No inspiration. Singing? A real disaster. Now, listening to music, I do a lot. Why not playing? But my hands won’t be any use outside of a keyboard. Hey wait! Maybe that’s it?

No way I take lessons. Because I know how I am and how I can let something go if it does not go the way I want. And no way I buy an expensive instrument for the same reason.

But then I remembered my father had what I thought to be a synth, but which actually was a combo organ. Not that I ever saw him play, but he sometimes let my brother or I try it. It must be at my mother’s, so I searched for it, and she finally found it.

So I figured, what’s in there to lose? I know the basics about reading a score, and internet can teach me what I lack. Same thing with a keyboard layout. Why not try out?

So I took the thing home, plugged it in and turned it on. The speaker crackled. Good, it still works. I let my hands lie on the keys and tried randomly one. No sound. Tried left, right. Nothing. Let my hand run the whole length of the keyboard. Dead.

The speaker seems to be all right from the sound it makes when turning on, but somehow the keyboard does not produce any sound anymore. Well, lost for lost, let’s open it and see if there is a wire disconnected in an obvious way (can I not believe in luck?).

That is when I saw this that I remembered one thing: this organ is older than I am. Nothing as obvious as I hoped, and I am more of a software than hardware guy.

Without the knowledge, skills and equipment, I just let despair win. The organ is still at home, laying in a corner. Putting it to repair may be more expensive than buying a new one. Yet, I feel it would be a loss just to throw it away. Maybe one day…