An observation

It stared at me again today with its dull expression. Its friends all grouped in different corners of this large room. But this “thing” was alone in a corner reserved for its grand importance. It looked philosophical because it only expressed colors of white and black as if it were holding unto the secrets and meaning of life and death. The body polished so well that the room expanded like a portal to another world. The top frame opened only a foot wide to allow the sound to resonant throughout the room and possibly move ones heart. Its shape constructed to be used at social gatherings amongst friend, family, and lovers of music. The sides of this object are not parallel, one side straight, but the opposite side resembles the seductress shape of a supple woman. It stood there on its three legs like an old man who is stricken with a terrible curse, old age. But yet its texture remains perfect from a distance.
I returned to this large room again to satisfy my curiosity. I approached this instrument to examine it, but secretly it was its seductress look that drew me in. As I got closer, its size increased and its shape appeared more captivating as I gazed upon it. Before I knew it I was standing near this object. My curiosity compelled me to touch it and soon my hand was in a trance gliding against the body of this instrument. The soundboard was open and this object no longer appeared as a single entity, but it had smaller parts connected to one another like an old grandfather clock. Inside this soundboard there were steel 230 steel strings stretched across the soundboard connected to smaller parts. And within this soundboard there were bolts and tuning pins tighten carefully with soft cloth-like hammers used to strike the steel strings to produce a sound that is interpreted as music. As I walked to the front of this instrument its properties and colors became more appealing. The colors of black and white covered the ivory keys of this instrument. The pattern of two black keys surround by three white keys followed by three black keys followed by four white keys captivated my attention. This pattern continued though the 88 keys that ascended from the lowest rumbling-like note to the highest whistle-like note. There was also a name for this instrument engraved in a prestigious gold color “Yamaha,” which seemed like a foreign name for such a traditional musical instrument. There were three pedals below the keys of this instrument used to shorten or lengthen the duration of a specific key. These parts of the instrument were assembled with great care by a person who not only appreciated this object for its aesthetic beauty, but also for its mechanical ability.
A month passed and I returned to this room where this “thing” was position alone in its corner amid all the other groups of musical instruments covered with a piece of fabric. Then, a man entered this large room decorated with painting of noise and sound. The room was quiet and pieces by Mozart, Chopin, and Schubert were heard. And this instrument poured out emotions of fear, love, hate, anger, fantasy, and despair; all which are human experiences. But yet this object is not regarded as the creator of these emotions because many believe it cannot feel or experience human emotions or pain. What a shameful thought because some have regarded this instrument as supernatural that can influence ones thought that would change ones belief that could then alter ones actions. But then again, its existence was motivated by a mechanical use to produce noise, sound, or as some like to call it, music.
This instrument stood there in its glorious stance and my hand pressed against one of the white keys and immediately a pitch was produced and an overtone series occurred, which is the theory that from one pitch many other pitches are heard at a higher frequency, but it still maintains its original sound. This pitch rang throughout the room and then it ended. I stood there and pressed the first black key that was positioned between the four white keys. Afterwards, I heard a voice ask me “Its intriguing isn’t it?” I was startled. I stepped aside and watched this man place a trunk next to this instrument and sat down on a leather covered stool near this instrument. His long aged fingers began moving up and down this instrument in a scalarly motion. Then, he played a song that evoked emotions of sadness, love, and hope. Over and over this song rang throughout this room and this man would cringe and his head would tilt every moment or so. He asked me, “Do you hear that?” I said, “Yes, it’s beautiful.” He said, “No, it’s…”

20 thoughts on “An observation

  1. Daniel Song

    I often find that men will label something they care for greatly as “she.” Ignoring the possible misogynistic implications, it means that we will give part of ourselves to “her.” We will take care of her, clean her, and she will in some strange inanimate way do the same for us. She could be a car, a boat, or a keyboard.

    I appreciate the vagueness of the introduction and the way the piece sort of funnels into what the narrator is really fussing about. Am I reading it correctly when I interpret that he is terrible at playing piano but loves it thoroughly?

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  2. Orhan Gokkaya

    I like the suspense the writer creates; however, I wanted to find more details about the “large room” in the beginning. What is an “old grandfather clock”? When you stated, “There was also a name for this instrument engraved in a prestigious gold color “Yamaha”” I like the reference to the Japanese multinational corporation which is based in Japan creates musical instruments. Why was “glorious” thing never touched for over a month? Also I felt at loss when the man was introduced. “I stood there and pressed the first black key that was positioned between the four white keys. Afterwards, I heard a voice ask me “Its intriguing isn’t it?” I was startled.” Who is this man? He must be someone that you know since he was in the room as well. I was unable to solve the ending, what did the guy mean when he stated, “No It’s… “I felt the piece should be more expanded, I felt like there was more to the piece.

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  3. Vanessa

    Great introduction. I didn’t get that it was a grand piano until I read about its body. I really liked the opening sentence. I’m just hoping you don’t leave the second sentence as a fragment; it’s too early in the piece for that.
    I don’t understand the part about the shape of the instrument: “Its shape constructed to be used at social gatherings amongst friend, family, and lovers of music.” I cannot draw simple connections to the relevance of shapes in regards to social gatherings.
    “I approached this instrument to examine it, but secretly it was its seductress look that drew me in.” Not sure about the “but” used there, since it’s not really one or the other; the narrator could be examining it because it is seductive. Be more specific about what he meant to do in examining it, as in examining it in regards to its what?
    “Before I knew it I was standing near this object.” How close? Where were you standing? Describe the distance; is it far enough that you don’t feel completely overwhelmed, but close enough that you could smell it, e.g. a musky odor? This is an example of details you could give us more of us to bring us into this entrancing scene with the narrator. Think of all the senses you could use to accomplish this.
    The voice was not overpowering enough to steal the spotlight from the instrument, since it seems to be the main subject in this piece, but held a nice balance of character and mystery. What a cliffhanger, by the way–sounds like this piece is only a part of something bigger. If not, then I don’t suggest ending so abruptly. Great draft; keep working on it.

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  4. Diali Montalvo

    I really enjoyed the drawn out introduction. I also liked the the descriptions you used to describe the piano. You used sentences like “sides of this object are not parallel, one side straight, but the opposite side resembles the seductress shape of a supple woman.” and “but secretly it was its seductress look that drew me in.” You use words that identify this object as a female, maybe you should refer to the piano as a woman rather than a thing which will add to the creativity of the piece. I like that you make reference to the other instruments in the room suggesting to the reader where your are. I wish this piece was a bit longer but I really like the creativity to your essay.

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  5. Henry Bucket

    This is an interesting piece. I was drawn in by the vague description in the beginning. It was a good way to start. I think that you were creative in describing the piano in the beginning, but I feel like the reader would be drawn in more if you could connect your comparisons in the beginning. I also would like it if you went into more detail about overtone theory. Your piece leaves a lot of questions, some of which are fine unanswered, but if you could answer some, like maybe who the man is or just remove a couple of the loose ends, it would be nice. With so many loose ends I feel kind of like I’m watching an episode of “Lost.” I really like the detail and creativity you showed in this piece.

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  6. Alicia Camano

    An observation
    After reading your piece I understand your title, you explained the observation you were making that captivated you. I enjoy the suspence you created for the reader, but I would have liked to for the narrator to reveal the instrument at the end or give more hints about it.
    What works great in your piece is the description of the instrument and the comparisons that are made to a woman shape. To me that means that you consider this instrument beautiful and attractive.
    The credibility of the author is demonstrated through the knowledge of music that is added in the piece; Such as the mention of “Yamaha” as well as famous musicians. Other than that I enjoy reading your piece.

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  7. Kerel Cain

    You began the piece with mystery and the reader is captivated because they are following along trying to figure out what your talking about. The best thing about this piece is that you never say its a piano. You just give us details . It feels like you want to follow the “show not tell” motto. Whether intentional or by accident it works in this piece. I enjoyed the curiousness about the “object” you displayed. As well as the sexual tone you used to describe it. A sense if wonder: wanting this thing so bad and knowing that if you had it you wouldn’t know what to do with it.

    The problem I have is the title. Your piece is better than your title. The piece could be more vivid in the second draft, try to get grab the readers memorable emotions with something they think is fascinating as oppose to just following yours. (More metaphors, perhaps) this is solid but your title, again , is generic and I know your better than that, because your piece is.

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  8. David Castro

    after reading all this description i feel kind of cheated in a way. All of this description for just a piano?

    well even if you feel this way for a piano, it comes off as you just used any object to show off your vocabulary.
    You have alot of ” darlings” in this piece that are borderline cliche. For example,

    ” looked philosophical because it only expressed colors of white and black as if it were holding unto the secrets and meaning of life and death.”

    “the sides of this object are not parallel, one side straight, but the opposite side resembles the seductress shape of a supple woman”

    “He asked me, “Do you hear that?” I said, “Yes, it’s beautiful.” He said, “No, it’s…””

    overall some sentences are just too wordy. It feels like you just had a thesaurus open that entire time, and some descriptions just miss the point entirely.

    also, in a piece like this I BELIEVE that it only works when the subject you are describing is open to interpretation. for example, instead of using a lot of details to describe a piano, maybe use a piano to describe other emotions, the piano should be a representative of a deeper subtext, in your piece its just like
    ok heres a lot of descriptions for a piano, and thats that, just a piano. it doesn’t discuss deeper meaning, at the end of the piece we just read description about an inanimate object and thats it.

    that makes any sense?

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    1. Suresh Ramdhanie

      I concur most with David, I felt like this was mighty long and uneventful just a piano. I maybe would feel less critical of the ode if the piano was not as romanticized as it appears in the piece.. It is likened to a shapely woman, we all know what piano’s are shaped like and this analogy felt like a forced artistic leap to somehow bring the female form into the narrative. I didn’t buy it. Also, that analogy is refuted by the narrator comparing the piano’s legs to an old man in the very next sentence. Once again, the human analogy feels forced here too, just because something has legs does not make it resemble a human being at all. Piano legs look nothing like human legs; also then table legs and chair legs have to be likened to human legs too. I get that the piano makes music and it therefore an expression of art and romanticized, but I believe and ode to it would be better served romanticizing the aspects of it that are truly unique rather than it’s mundane attributes. You did this well with the 230 steel rings and 88 keys part, those established your credibility on knowledge of the instrument and also made the reader appreciate how complicated the workings of a piano are.

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  9. Deviniti Donnabella

    Great details in ”The Observation.” There were times in this piece where I felt like you appreciated the instrument and its music, but I also got the sense that you were degrading (for lack of a better word) this instrument. You keep refering to this ”grand” insttument as a thing. You also called its music noise. ”What a shameful thought because some have regarded this instrument as supernatural that can influence ones thought that would change ones belief that could then alter ones actions. But then again, its existence was motivated bya mechanical use to produce noise, sound, or as some like to call it, music.” To readers it either shows that you have never come in contact with music or any type of instrument or that you are looking at this grand instrument as a worthless object. These two views contradict each other. If you want to study it as an object you should use words other than thing and noise. These words hold very little power. The word ”sound” works. Also, because you did say that its existence was motivated by mechanical use to produce noise, how is it that you know this if the object is so new to you, which one infers by the way you are so suddenly captivated by it?

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  10. Li Huang

    I really enjoyed how the author took the long journey in describing what almost undoubtedly is a piano. You certainly got me as a reader with the introduction of people almost cowering in the four corners of the room awaiting the action of the “thing” that stood in the middle. I thought it was clones of Agent Smith backing off from Neo from the Matrix or possibly mob members taking caution with Batman or King Leonidas from 300! I also liked how the ending left the audience trailing with two obvious answers–either “music” or “a piano.” Music can really soothe the soul. That is most people with an iphone, ipod, or any mobile music player should be able to relate to. As I am writing this, I am listening to the The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Zelda’s Lullaby and it feels like sinking slowly into a warm hot bath. I think that is how the “thing” feels like to the author.

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  11. Gabriela Bayona

    You provide excellent description of the object, which as this point has been concluded, is a piano. This works, not only because it allows you to get away with never mentioning the word piano in your piece, but it makes the reader feel good about himself/herself when they are able to solve this “riddle”. You drop clues, some straight forward such as “The pattern of two black keys surround by three white keys followed by three black keys followed by four white keys captivated my attention.”, and others a little bit odd such as, “sides of this object are not parallel, one side straight, but the opposite side resembles the seductress shape of a supple woman.” The weirdness here works, it shows that you are quite intrigue by the instrument, so much so that it plays on your emotions of other pleasurable things you think about. I don’t know, maybe I’m off in my opinion. But if in fact this is true, you did a great job at illustrating to the reader your thoughts.

    The one thing you could work on is making this piece more personable. Why are you so mesmerized by the piano? What were the consequences of your intrigue? Did you pick up playing the piano? We want to know more about your feelings towards the piano. You have the description down, now just expand on your connection with the piano and it will make for a much better piece.

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  12. Josie

    I would like to know why the writer is so interested in the piano. I think the writer should start by saying it is a piano. I would like to know why the writer does not learn to play the piano. I would like to know who the man is that plays the piano. The paper does not have an ending.

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  13. Amilka Lopez

    I really enjoyed reading this piece. I would like to here the writer elaborate some more on the sound of the piano. I felt like that the description of the form of the piano was there but I would want to know more about what does the piano do? How does it sound? What its it function?

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  14. Nadya Antoine

    I really enjoyed the structure of this piece. Honestly, from afar, it strikes as a jumbled up paragraph. Yet once you begin to read, the structured tightness of the piece becomes understandable if not even, a necessity.

    I, along with the others appreciate the ambiguity of the piece. However, I feel a if it was not completely fulfilled in the end. I would like to know about the man and the “why” behind the constant visits to the large room.

    Other than that, great piece.

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  15. Krystal Temple

    I enjoyed this piece a lot. I liked the title because you were observing the piano, and all of it’s parts. The imagery in this piece was great, and I think it could be even better. Your lines such as:
    “The colors of black and white covered the ivory keys of this instrument”
    were both beautiful and intriguing, as it really painted a picture of the object, and highlighted you obsession.
    The metaphor you used was also beautiful:
    “The body polished so well that the room expanded like a portal to another world” This is metaphoric because the piano represents endless possibilities to the author.
    You end the piece in the middle of a discussion with a man, making the reader wonder what he is about to say. I think this was very cleverly done because maybe we don’t need to know what this man said. Maybe we cannot define the piano, so the omission of his answer actually works for this piece.
    If I were to give you criticism so that you can improve this piece, I would say work on adding more metaphors, and descriptive language. There are times when you blatantly describe the piano, that you could have used more of an artistic language. If you do that – the entire piece could be a metaphor for something larger… but what?? That’s for you to decide! Great piece!

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  16. Ruket Negasi

    I agree with Kerel on the “show not tell” motto that it is a great way of capturing the readers attention and desire to read more of this observation. I think the author does a great job at describing this observation; “The pattern of two black keys surround by three white keys followed by three black keys followed by four white keys captivated my attention.” Although this piece is about an observation of an instrument, as a reader I would have want to know why this particular instrument stands out, I didn’t quite see the connection between the narrator and the instrument other than it looked remarkable beautiful. The author does explain how pieces by Mozart, Chopin, and Schubert were heard. “And this instrument poured out emotions of fear, love, hate, anger, fantasy, and despair; all which are human experiences”. I would like to learn about the connection these emotions has to the author, is there specific event that evoked these emotions in the authors life.

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  17. Joan Infante

    Very nice piece of creative nonfiction. The authors vocabulary was well defined and added to the emotion and intensity of the piece. It would have been nice if it were told in the third person, instead of the first. And probably as intended by the author, the ending was a cliffhanger. It would have been slightly better if the buildup was faster and a bit more obvious.

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