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MMD > Archives > February 1997 > 1997.02.04 > 07Prev  Next

Book by William Braid White
By Craig Brougher

"Piano Tuning and the Allied Arts", by William Braid White, was the very first book I ever read on piano mechanisms. I got so mad trying to understand it that I put the book away and asked around if there was anything else I could find. "No," was the answer. Professor White was not my kind of author, and at the time, it was the one and only book on pianos.

So I decided to go into a personal in-depth study by myself. I would analyze the leverage, the designs, the mechanics, materials, etc. and figure it out. I have Professor White to thank for that. From time to time, I would check back into his book and usually find that he was either wrong or probably didn't know about this or that eccentricity or detail. Usually, though, it was in the realm of regulation, and what should come before and what should come after. His system would have a technician juggling the adjustments back and forth -- a slow and imprecise way of doing it.

One thing I also noted was the fact that I didn't read anything that would hint to me that he had any intimate knowledge of a piano, other than an arm's-length erudite and stuffy manner which I absolutely detest! Years later, I was to discover that White had never in his entire life repaired a piano mechanism. He was so far above those things that it became a class system in his mind, I think. Whatever his reasons not to dirty his hands, the end result then made perfect sense to me. You cannot write effectively about what you have never in your life done.

Whether this is correct is open to question, since it is hearsay. All I know is what I didn't read in his book, however. I have since been told the same thing by many technicians over the years, and we just have a chuckle. Today, one of the best books on piano actions is probably Art Reblitz' latest edition on "Tuning, Regulating, and Rebuilding." I would never recommend a book by some college professor over one written by a real life rebuilder.

Craig Brougher

[ Given the choice, I'd rather study with a good teacher than with an
[ expert who can't communicate. There are always lots of books to
[ choose from, but many will be by hack writers who don't know the
[ subject very well. The best books are likely to be written by good
[ _thorough_ writers who, even if they aren't expert themselves, are
[ smart enough to learn from the experts, and can present the knowledge
[ clearly. Art Reblitz is exceptional both as a master rebuilder and a
[ fine writer. -- Robbie

(Message sent Tue 4 Feb 1997, 14:40:27 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Book, Braid, White, William

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