Antique Piano: Horror Movie Sound FX

Made in 1910, this old Emerson piano is still in great shape. The wood it’s made of is beautiful. It has a common problem that many old pianos have. It’s been neglected long enough that trying to repair it and get it into playable shape is pointless. Even after spending a few thousand dollars on repairs it would continue to be worthless. You would never be able to sell it for a decent price to recover your money and giving away an unplayable piano has proven to be near impossible. No one wants to buy one and they definitely don’t want to help you move one.

My buddy David decided what he would do with the piano, is disassemble it and turn the wooden facade into a hutch or a bar of some sort for his house. This is where I come in. He thought I might like to record some experimental sounds from the piano before it gets completely taken apart. He was right! Of course the old piano makes the perfect 60s/70s French horror film stinger sound. Hitting the strings in any way whatsoever produces the most incredibly eerie sounds. I went to work on it using my Sennheiser e609 dynamic microphone and my Zoom H5 recorder. To create the sounds I used a long list of highly technical tools like my bare hands, a crescent wrench, a metal washer and a custom Timsgarry Yacht Club guitar pick.

After a short while I had to step away and call it done. I could have recorded the piano all day long. It could live to see another day of recording though. The longer we spent trying to disassemble the piano the more we realized it was built to last. We now know why it is still so solid after 110 years. This thing is built like a tank. We were able to get it laid down with just 2 people, but we’re no closer to being able to remove the string assembly than we were when we started. Bigger tools may have to be employed to finish the job.

I can’t wait to use the sound effects I recorded.