IMDb > Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 (2007)

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Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 -- 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, in this age of mass production, their makers are a dying breed: skilled cabinet-makers, gifted tuners, thorough hand-crafters. NOTE BY NOTE follows the creation of a Steinway concert grand, #L1037, from forest floor to concert hall. Each piano's journey is complex, spanning 12 months, 12,000 parts, 450 craftsmen, and countless hours of fine-tuned labor. Filmed in key Steinway locations; the factory, Steinway's reserved Bank, and the rooms of private auditions.  NOTE BY NOTE is a loving celebration not just of craftsmanship, but of a dying breed of person who is deeply connected to working by hand. In the end, this is an ode to the most unexpected of unsung heroes. It reminds us how extraordinary the dialogue can be between an artist and an instrument crafted out of human hands but borne of the materials of nature.


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A feature-length independent documentary that follows the creation of a Steinway concert grand, #L1037- from forest floor to concert hall. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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Creation of a Steinway: The Love between Creators and Performers See more (7 total) »


Pierre-Laurent Aimard

Harry Connick Jr. ... Himself
Hélène Grimaud ... Herself
Hank Jones ... Himself

Lang Lang ... Himself

Directed by
Ben Niles 
Produced by
Ben Niles .... executive producer
Geoff O'Brien .... associate producer
Cinematography by
Luke Geissbuhler 
Ben Niles 
Geoff O'Brien 
Ben Wolf 
Film Editing by
Purcell Carson 
Geoff O'Brien 
Sound Department
Col Anderson .... sound editor
Brian Bowles .... dialogue editor
Nara Garber .... sound recordist
Valery Lyman .... sound recordist
Matt Snedecor .... sound effects editor
Doug Winningham .... sound effects recordist
Editorial Department
Erik Satre .... assistant editor
Alexis Van Hurkman .... colorist
Jonathan Burkhart .... special thanks


Additional Details

Also Known As:
81 min
Color (NTSC Color) | Color (DV 24p) | Color
Aspect Ratio:
1.78 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Dolby Digital (Western Electric Sound System) | Dolby Digital | Dolby SR (RCA Sound System)


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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
Creation of a Steinway: The Love between Creators and Performers, 28 July 2011
Author: gradyharp from United States

NOTE BY NOTE is a documentary that is not a documentary: it is a love story the begins with the initial choice of wood form Sitka, Alaska, through the multiple aspects of creating the case, the soundboard, stringing and creating the hammers and pads, and finally the tuning of the piano before placing it before the public wither for sale or for storage in the Steinway Headquarters in New York for pianists to select for performances in the New York area. Each step of the process introduces the craftsman responsible for particular aspects of the building of this near sacred musical instrument: it takes a year to handcraft a Steinway piano.

Each step of the process of creating the piano, here the selected piano is numbered L1037, is explained and demonstrated but that is where this film is so very unlike other films that attempt to achieve the same 'this is how it is done' process: this is a story of a 'lover' passed from person to person until the wooden and metal and pad-filled 'box' is presented to the hands of a variety of musicians for the acid test. Throughout the film we are in conversation with such pianists as Hélène Grimaud, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Lang Lang, Harry Connick, Jr. and Hank Jones. But the real radiance of this film directed by Ben Niles is the series of tender tributes each of the workers adds when attempting to describe how working to build a Steinway is as rewarding an occupation as possible. This little film is a quiet love story and very awe inspiring.

Grady Harp

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