Note By Note: Making of Steinway LI037

Ben Niles’ “Note By Note” is a feature-length documentary about the creation of  Steinway concert grand #L1037 from forest floor to concert hall.

It explores the relationship between musician and instrument and the manufacturing process, illustrating what makes each Steinway unique in this age of mass production.

The docu is placed in the broader socio-historical contexts of our age of mass-production and consumption, asking such relevant questions as: What is the role of the musicianboth an instruments craftsman and its player Put differently, musically-speaking, what have we gained, and what are we losing

Some of the most thoroughly handcrafted instruments in the world, Steinway pianos are as unique and full of personality as the world-class musicians who play them. However, sadly, their makers represent a dying breed: skilled cabinetmakers, gifted tuners, thorough hand-crafters.

The docu shows that, from the factory floor in Queens to Steinway Hall in Manhattan, each pianos journey is complex–spanning 12 months, 12,000 parts, 450 craftsmen, and countless hours of fine-tuned labor.

Shot in key Steinway locations, such as the factory, Steinways reserved Bank, and private auditions, “Note By Note” is a loving tribute, a celebration of not just craftsmanship, but of a dying breed of person who is deeply connected to working by hand.

Utimately, the film is an ode to the most unexpected, and perhaps ironic, of unsung heroes. It reminds us of how extraordinary the dialogue between artists and instruments–crafted out of human hands but borne of materials–can be.

Running time: 80 minutes
MPAA Rating: Unrated