Side by side before and after photograph

Last breaths of a piano at Watford General Hospital

In early September last year (2008) I went to Watford General Hospital to interview Medical Director Graham Ramsay about hospital bugs and a new unit that was being built. While waiting for Mr Ramsay I sat in a room where a piano was being taken apart with a combination of electric gadgets and brute force.

I asked the man taking it apart why he was doing this to what appeared to be a perfectly playable musical instrument. There was nowhere to put it allegedly and it was taking up too much room where it was. I half considered attempting to rescue it but found there was sadly no room in our place for the doomed instrument either.

As the man carried off another plank from the piano on a trolley I grabbed my sound recorder, ran up to the keys and bashed out around seven notes, not really in any order or melody. Before I could try to play anything melodic the door creaked open and the man came in to take apart the rest of the instrument. It would probably never play or be played again aside from a final distorted crash when it was destroyed.

When I came back from the interview the piano was gone.

About nine months later (May 2009) I decided to do something with the recording. I looped it through delays, a compressor and a graphic equaliser (second recording below).

As a final statement for an instrument that I am sure had an interesting and productive life it is not much but I hope it is better than nothing and will allow the instrument to live on in some way. If anyone wishes to take the raw recording and remix it in another way I would very much appreciate it.

Photographs above taken before and just after the interview.

Last breaths of a piano at Watford General Hospital (edited)

Last breaths of a piano at Watford General Hospital (raw)


Random colour palette via the Colourlovers API. This one's called Vintage Summer Party and is by CMORSHEDI

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