I am a “tuning” madman

Recently, an Indian film called “The Tuner” has earned the attention of the audience. However, there may be a lot of curious viewers who are obviously a bit surprised: this is simply “hanging the sheep to sell dog meat”, obviously a pianist!

In fact, the film’s creativity was born out of a wonderful French micro-movie. The original protagonist is indeed a piano tuner, but only by the role of “tunator” in the film to take the core clues, giving the protagonist a good reason Participate in the plot.

In any case, the Indian film “Tuner” evokes some people’s curiosity: What kind of career is the piano tuner? What kind of professional skills do they need? Is tuning the piano the only task for them?

What is a tuner?
Tuning is a behind-the-scenes work that is rarely touched by everyone and requires deep professional knowledge and operational experience to support it. Tuning is not a one-time guarantee for life, just like a throat for a singer, a singer’s throat is a musical instrument that requires long-term maintenance. Most of the simpler instruments, such as guzheng, guitar, harp, violin or trumpet, clarinet, etc., can be tuned by the player as long as there are standard sounds and tuner. However, each key of the piano has its own corresponding string and hammer, which is very complicated and complicated, so it is necessary for the professional to regularly check and adjust the inaccurate sound. This is why we have only heard of the reason that the piano has a tuner.

There is a documentary called “Pianomania”, featuring the conductor of Vienna, Stefan Knupfer of Steinway Piano, and the French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Recording Bach’s “The Art of Fugue” album, the story of the piano and tuning, is the main line, telling Steven’s tuning life. The small documentary directed by Robert Cibis in 2009 cost only about 400,000 euros, but won awards.

After the documentary was aired, the official website of BBC Music interviewed Steven. Stephen mentioned in the interview that each pianist has his own unique requirements in terms of timbre and performance, which stems from their different understanding of music, and every tuning work with the pianist makes him very excitement. Take a look at this documentary and you will have a new understanding of the tuner.

Piano tuner’s work “inside”
Aimar’s requirements for piano sounds can be said to be almost “perverted”, and Steven needs to constantly tune the piano according to his requirements. At the beginning of the documentary, Aimar wants to present different instruments with different sounds of the piano, and lists four modes: harpsichord, organ, chamber music and harpsichord. Stephen didn’t know enough about the harpsichord, so he went to Hofburg to listen to the sound of the harpsichord. In order to solve the problem of louder piano and worse tone, he ran to the Steinway piano factory in Hamburg, Germany to pick the right piano. Considering that the ceiling of the concert hall reflects the sound of the piano, he made a vocal board for Aimar, so that the sound of the piano was directly transmitted to the audience, and the sound of the piano accompanied by the band was strengthened. Still, Aimar still said, “It sounds perfect, but…”. Whenever Steven heard this turning point, his body was tight. But it is precisely because of this rigorous and serious treatment of music, Aimar’s album will receive several recording awards.

Stephen poured his feelings on every piano he had tweaked. Every time he plays the piano for Lang Lang, Alfred Brendel and other pianists, he will stay in the back door of the concert hall to listen to the whole scene. He was anxious when he was thinking outside the door, but he looked forward to the perfect appearance of the piano sound, like the father who waited for the newborn outside the delivery room. Indeed, every piano with a Steven’s hand is like his child. When he was bought for the Aimar-tune Steinway piano, he was as reluctant to marry his daughter. Stephen said that he was sentimental: “This line is welcoming and will continue to transfer the piano.”

Outside of work, Stephen is as passionate and dare to innovate as a teenager. In collaboration with the British piano “player” Richard Hyungki Joo, he was crazy to remove a piano leg and even prepare to break the violin and use the violin as a support. He also has his own “small problems” in his life – he can’t stand the imperfect sound. When someone puts a CD, he will yell “can’t stand it!” He will not treat the piano of the concert and the piano of the ordinary family. Once you start tuning, you must do your best.

For Steven, the significance of this documentary broadcast is not to let everyone demodulate the profession, but to make people aware of the difference between the instruments on the stage. Many moderators, listeners and behind-the-scenes staff can understand the singers who canceled their singing because of their throat discomfort, but often do not understand that it is impossible to complete a performance with a sly instrument.

How to become a tuner?
There are several necessary conditions for becoming a tuner. First of all, to have a keen ear, you can distinguish the sound within 20 Hz (the half-tone Hertz difference on the piano is about 36 to 37 Hz). Second, Steven mentioned “light hands” in the interview, and the fingers should be able to accurately execute the commands of the brain. Third, there must be a good eye that can pay attention to details and find the problem. Of course, there must be a lot of imagination and absolute willpower to achieve and satisfy customers. In the documentary, Steven’s various abstract descriptions of the pianist, such as “more dense”, “more profound performance” and “charming”, can constantly try to adjust the pianist’s most satisfying tone.

In addition, you must have the ability to withstand stress, and have the patience and confidence to deal with possible problems. The day before the start of the recording of Aimar, the piano for recording was not confirmed. Two pianos were moved together for comparison and tuning. Until the moment of recording, Steven also adjusted under the piano. Stephen said that he had a nightmare: the strings were broken during tuning. This shows that a concert is no less stressful to the tuner than the pianist.

Finally, a healthy body is also indispensable. Tuning work usually takes about one to two hours, during which the tuner not only needs high-intensity mental concentration, but also needs enough physical support. Before the start of the tuning work, Stephen had to listen to the pianist to play all the repertoire. After the pianist left, he could start the tuning work. It is also common to work until midnight.

Stephen had an apprenticeship at the Steinway factory in Hamburg, Germany, before reaching his current professional level. During that time he learned how to make a piano and how to use his fingers correctly when tuning. Although he also studied the sound and tone of music and acoustics, when he left the factory and traveled around the world as a “troubleshooter” for a few years, he began to understand the different requirements of music outside the common standards and learned. How to solve these problems.

No one can succeed casually
Stephen had studied piano for a long time before. Later, he found that most pianists had a bit of “neural nerves” and they didn’t learn any more. I think it also includes “torture” his Aimar. “The sound of the piano will be affected by everything in the world, including dust.” Steven, who said this sentence, is also “nervous” in tuning. He treated the tuning as a scientific experiment, and every string was precisely in place. In order to make a difference in the tone, he has to repeatedly consider the height of the bench. Fortunately, these “little idiots” for the piano “mad” can make perfect music for the world.

Behind every seemingly relaxed and elegant concert are countless hardships and sweats that are not known. The difference between good and ordinary is often reflected in the details that are easily overlooked, which is exactly what Steven and Amar are paying attention to. The responsibilities and beliefs of these “stubborn” and “stubborn” musicians, as well as the craftsmanship and the pursuit of the ultimate craftsmanship, are what we need to learn in today’s fast-paced, impetuous cities.