High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

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High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Maxine Palit de Jongh - The Tuner Speaks
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© Sanne De Wilde / Collectie Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
© Sanne De Wilde / Collectie Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam © Sanne De Wilde / Collectie Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Young Writers on Invisible Labour
literature
arts

Maxine Palit de Jongh - The Tuner Speaks

Eighteen young authors have brought nineteenth-century artefacts from the Rijksmuseum to life. They have taken inspiration from the question: what do you see when you look at these objects with an eye for invisible labour? Maxine Palit de Jongh presents us with an Erard Frères pianoforte from 1808. ‘I dream /of dust flakes shaping themselves into fingers.’

the tuner speaks

tuner: you’re hearing a B-flat chord

grand piano:
I’m here for aesthetic purposes only
a teenager preparing
for a first kiss leaving the party early
sticky with beer the Bacardi-coke lips
untouched ego bruised

tuner: you’re hearing an F major

grand piano:
I’m silent much of the time
at my foot four pedals that alter my voice
my keys have strings that ought to vibrate
there’s nobody who touches me
startles me just so

tuner: you’re hearing a D minor

grand piano:
I’m not with her
hortense de beauharnais
who never received me

I know which wall her portrait is on
her fingertips are unknown to me

tuner: a long rest

grand piano:
Never have I seen her search for evenness in tone
dissonance is unknown to me
as is harmony
all my notes are wrapped in copper wire
so the aether can’t detune me with a sigh

tuner: hear

me

play

grand piano:
hear me

play

tuner: I dream
of rhapsody in blue no Beethoven

grand piano:
I dream
of dust flakes shaping themselves into fingers

tuner: my solo can be heard, the listener an empty case, empty plates, empty faces

grand piano:
four bars’ rest
six months’ rest
two
three
centuries’
rest

tuner: only me

grand piano:
I alone
feel the clarity slide
I want a story not a history
how long does it keep moving is it correct
I feel it slide

tuner: the other pianos are rubbish
I shouldn’t think this
a voice must be heard
my reluctance to leave this instrument
ricochets in this room 1.12

1-1-2 the piano is in crisis
it’s no joking matter’ the watery coffee
snaps at me in the houses I visit
I’m soothed by the correct temperature
shocked by the chill of shattered dreams

my equipment polished in my briefcase
my fingers wrapped in gloves
ivory is delicate
ivory remains delicate

tuning fingers sing too
gershwin bach beethoven and pop
don’t underestimate it
making sounds whole
in my head I hear a top C
it sounds like

Series

Young Writers on Invisible Labour

Pim Lammers - Tear Me Down

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