Architecture – “As a concert cellist myself, I’d always been interested in the inside of my instrument, but it was something I rarely got to see.” New Zealand-based photographer Charles Brooks told Archipanic. “The interior of a cello is only visible during major repairs, so in my 20-year music career, I managed to peek inside just twice! Recently, new probe lenses became available, and I realised I could explore these instruments without risking damage to them. So I rented a probe lens, and the project began.”
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Each photo of the Architecture in Music project is a blend of hundreds of frames. The unprecedented sharpness and detail render these spaces as vast rooms, exposing the tool marks of the makers, repairs carried out through the centuries, and the hidden architecture within. Indeed, Brooks has selected musical instruments with fascinating histories.
“The 1780 Lockey Hill cello [Top photo] was one of the first I photographed. I was immediately attracted to it because of its age. At 240 years old, it’s in remarkably good condition with just a few repairs. The Hill family would go on to become the most famous luthiers in England’s history. However, Lockey’s time was tragically cut short when he was executed for horse theft in 1790.”
“That instrument contrasts dramatically with another cello hit by a train in 1929! It had been tied to the roof of a car which got stuck on a level crossing. Such damage would normally write off an instrument. However, this was the era of the Great Depression, and cellos were hard to come by, so it was repaired. Unusually, every luthier that has worked on it has left a signature inside.”
Other instruments were chosen for their exceptional quality. “The Fazioli Grand Piano has one of the most beautiful keyboard actions I’ve ever seen. All 11.000 parts of the piano are made by hand. The care taken to hand-carve such a tiny space with such precision is remarkable.”
“Then there’s the Didgeridoo. Unlike all the other instruments I’ve photographed, the interior of this instrument is completely organic. It was hollowed out by termites, not by hand. The result is a strange alien tunnel, full of blacks and reds from the fire used to seal it and the ochre mixed with the wax mouthpiece.”
Charles Brooks believes that Music and Architecture are inseparable. “Many of the greatest architectural feats of past centuries were created with music and sound driving their very design, from the amphitheaters of Rome, the great cathedrals of Europe, to modern stadiums and splendid opera houses throughout the world. Their design has influenced and shaped the history of music, and music continues to shape their design in turn.”
All photos by Charles Brooks.