Thursday, 10 January 2019
Happy New Year!
A new year and new challenges.
We've been back at Bonani's new music school in Nyamirambo, helping to fix his Nordiska. It's in very good condition, except around 14 of the leather bridle strap tabs had been damaged or were missing. As the rest of the tabs look fine, and it's not that old an instrument, it may have been rodents having a nibble.
Marion took out each of the hammers, whilst Bonani cut off the old straps, measured the new ones to length, and glued them back onto the hammers.
Unfortunately, the new straps aren't great quality. They were cheap on eBay from China. The tabs are the leather bits on the end that provide support for the cotton braid. These kept falling off or tearing, and required gluing.
We're desperate to try to find as many local alternatives as possible. Bulk-buying cheap items like springs and bridle straps is fine, but good quality foreign products edge up the cost of the build, and, at the end of the day, we want to make an African piano with African parts. So we're putting it to the Kigali hive mind to see if anyone can come up with an alternative to cotton braid.
Saturday, 22 December 2018
We've decided to press on with the front of the piano. The missing string hasn't arrived yet, as post can take some time to reach us, but we'll put that on when it gets here. Chillington need to examine the frame to finalise the pattern in January, when they reopen after the holidays. But all of this can be done with the front on, and we can take the front off if needs be.
Marion waved goodbye as Dés's team took it back to the workshop. We need to be extremely careful to keep it dry, as piano string rusts incredibly easily if exposed to water or damp. Dés is building a case for the front of the instrument to prevent people touching the strings. Pianos are very beautiful, and the first thing people often want to do is run their fingers across the strings to hear the sound, but sweat from our hands can damage the strings and accelerate rusting, so we need to prevent that.
Marion has filled the space with a new addition - a Young Chang from around the late 80s. This was the piano from the church in Kinyinya. The first piano she ever put a new string on. The church have just bought a new piano so this one was on offer.
Marion is planning to rebuild her Lirika once the pattern is settled. But the Young Chang makes a very acceptable substitute. It's got a bit of a bigger voice than the Lirika. Playing with the mute on is a must so as not to disturb the neighbours. It's also very similar in build to the Lirika, so a good reference point for Dés as we continue building. It helps to have a working piano to poke about with and check how things fit together. Providing our prototype works and we go into business, we could always use the Young Chang as a rental instrument for musicians and concerts.
Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Now that Désiré has made a wooden replica of the actions frame, Marion is putting the original back together. Only another 87 to go...
The exciting part is, we finally get to put the flip-flop hammers on. It'll be a while before we can test them, but it's fun all the same.
Sunday, 16 December 2018
Friday, 14 December 2018
Sorry we've been so quiet recently. Few hold-ups.
Firstly, we're waiting for the missing string to arrive. We ordered it a couple of weeks back, but post to Rwanda sometimes takes a while. Nothing we can really do about that.
Meanwhile, we need to settle the pattern for the frame with Chillington before we continue building the front of the piano and installing the keys. The pattern is the specifications for making more frames in the future. There's a few things we need to alter on the frame, such as making sure the hitch pins angle down and are in the correct places, and - most importantly of all - finding the right place to put our logo.
Chillington have already closed for Christmas, so we need to wait until January to go through everything with their technicians.
Once the pattern is 100% completed, we can then put the old frame back into Lirika and start rebuilding her.
Désire is keen to start building a second piano already, but we've learnt that nothing can be rushed. We're taking our time over the prototype, but once it's complete, building future pianos should become much quicker.
We're looking forward to finding out what this one sounds like in the New Year, and thank everyone for their continued support with the project.