It was in the early morning hours that I fell into a phone call-a call back from Bill Demarsky, the piano tuner, and it was the right number after all. He's going to come over on Tuesday. But we got to talking about harpsichords for some reason. His specialty is tuning harpischords, and when I asked if that was harder than tuning pianos, he laughed and said, "Sure, but the real problem is that they go out of tune really quickly."
"What makes them go out of tune?"
"Anything," he laughed again. "Climatic change. So if it gets humid, or stops being humid, out of tune. If the temperature changes, out of tune. Sometimes if it's just moved around too much, out of tune. So I tune them right before concerts. Sometimes during intermissions."
"So why don't pianos need to be tuned that often?"
He explained that advances in the way pianos are strung, as well as in the kind of wood they use, mean that climate doesn't change them that much; they just go out of tune naturally over long periods of time because you can't get rid of the stress of the hammers hitting the strings. "But you can eliminate most of nature's influence," he said, "which helps." And then I was off worrying about nature again. Why do we see nature as the opposite of human? Because science-of which musical instrument design is a part-tells us that nature is ours to use and control to make. But that doesn't seem right, because when I look around me I see a lot of places where we should have just let nature do what it wanted to. Does science have to be oppressive of nature? Does science have to involve oppressive power at all?
If I am the subject, does my object of study have to possess less power than I do? >