Ben Niles
The Sweet Sound of Craft

Ben Niles

One cannot deny the fact that in the western world, we live in a mass production culture. The notion that something can and is handmade seems tremendously outdated. With the influx of technology and its promises of speed and efficiency, it almost seems illogical to make something by hand. That was the first thing that caught filmmaker Ben Niles by surprise when he read an article about the Steinway company, a 150 year old company that has been making each of their pianos, and tuning them, by hand since their inception. The skill it takes to make a grand piano is extraordinary, let alone the time—a full year. In the newly released film Note by Note, Ben Niles tracks the process of making a Steinway L1037. We travel through the factory, with the men and women who craft these fine objects, we observe the characters of the pianos, of the masters that play them and we return to a time where the piano was a galvanizing force, central to the family and community, a time before technology, and we re-visit the strength and potency of craft and the individuality of an object.