Nigel Edwards, translator & pianotechnician

Nigel Edwards, b.1949 in Bournemouth, U.K. Self-employed piano tuner/technician in Frankfurt, Germany since 1980.

Almost everyday I have the privilege of walking into someone’s home and removing the upper panel of a piano (removing the music desk in a grand is less spectacular). Most children and many adults are astonished by what is revealed: all those bits of wood and felt and wires and springs somehow serving to produce that mysterious and elusive piano tone. As a two-year-old at my Grandmother’s house there was a Bentley piano with a beautiful case of burr walnut, chosen by my Grandfather who as a carpenter had knowledge of wood, if not of pianos. Tinkling was not encouraged but I remember wanting to get behind the instrument to find out where the sound came from. Later on I learnt to play with modest success. Many years later, after some false starts in a number of occupations, I walked into a German piano shop and asked if they needed a hand; almost straight away a place in the workshop was cleared and I entered this fascinating world of piano technology. I remember the thrill of seeing the results of my first repair jobs: the shine of the re-varnished soundboard against the new red felt, the copper strings, the polished brass and ivory – visually gratifying even before acoustical improvements became evident (falling sometimes short of expectations). In some ways translation is like removing that upper panel of the piano. Something previously hidden comes into view. In the previously mentioned workshop I was approached by colleague and editor of the Europiano magazine, Jan Grossbach, who asked if I was willing to translate articles into English. At first I was surprised how laborious this task was, but it was rewarding in terms of getting to grips with various themes: adhesives, properties of wood, acoustics etc. and to acquire the correct terminology. I met Carl-Johan Forss through the PPV publishers. The thought of translating a book on piano regulation with more than 500 pages was daunting, but then when I saw the German version I realized that the greater part of it consisted of photographs. In fact that is the book’s strength: distinct photographs that instruct even before reading the text. Of course explanation is also required and I have tried to provide clear instructions in English, using my experience as a piano technician to think through the various work steps. The tuning book provides a step-by-step tuning method as well as a wealth of related materials, from ancient temperaments to the way our ears convert sound waves into music. All the note names have been converted to the American system from the German. I wish all piano technicians, present and future, a fulfilling career in the world of piano technology.