(7) Music on board ship, precautions respecting the care of instruments [[42-44]]
[] All things considered, the privations experienced by passengers to India are by no means so numerous, or severe in their operation, as might at first view be apprehended. In many ships, ladies and gentlemen skilled in music are thus brought together, and by their united [] talents afford a most pleasing recreation to all on board. Few vessels are totally destitute of some means to attract the parties towards the quarter-deck. There, in the cool of the evening, during fair weather, the merry dance for a while banishes ennui, and contributes to give a wholesome impetus to the circulation.
Ladies partial to music should be particularly careful that the piano-fortes they take with them be so constructed as to exempt them from those wondrous effects produced by the climate of India. The instruments made for exportation can never be depended upon, unless clamped at every joint with plates of brass, and secured in the more delicate parts by means of battens well screwed and cemented to the sounding-board. Experience has fully proved that the pianos most appropriate for hot climates were made by Clementi, Kirkman, and Tomkinson; but it is equally true that other artists in this line are becoming not less celebrated, by imitating, or excelling, the instruments of their predecessors.
Ladies will derive considerable convenience and gratification from having an exterior case made to enclose the piano-forte, leaving a space of about an inch all around. This outward safeguard should be of planed deal, stained of a mahogany colour, or painted; and it should open in front, so as to admit of playing the instrument, while its lid should be fixed upon hinges, that it may be thrown back at pleasure. The lower part of the frame maybe packed and laid by; a spare frame of deal being substituted during the voyage, with a set of shelves below, to contain music-books, &c.; all locked up by means of folding-doors. Both the exterior case and the frame should be furnished with lacquered iron handles, to lift them occasionally; but particularly to secure them to the [] side of the ship, and to the deck. Without such a precaution the whole would be tumbled about, and shivered to atoms by the vessel's motion.
Gentlemen who perform on stringed instruments should be careful to provide an ample supply of strings, firsts and fourths especially; they being not only very dear, and perhaps damaged, when procurable, but at times not procurable in any part of India, for love or money! Reeds for hautboys, clarionets, bassoons, &c., are similarly circumstanced. Nor would it be superfluous for a lady to take with her several sets of wires for her piano; they being very scarce. At all events, she ought to qualify herself to tune the instrument. This may be learned in a month or six weeks, by attention to the instructions of a regular tuner, who will be well satisfied with a moderate compensation.
This is a point whereon one should dwell rather particularly; because
even in Calcutta, Madras, or Bombay, a good tuner is not always to be found;
and in all other situations throughout the interior, there is scarcely
a professional person. Besides, in a country whose climate deranges the
most skilful adjustment of the wires, often in a few minutes, merely by
a slight exposure to heat or damp, the expense attendant upon such frequent
tunings, as are indispensable, would speedily absorb the full value of
the instrument itself -- the ordinary rates being a guinea for a grand-piano,
and twelve shillings for a square one. Thus, whether for convenience, or
economy, too much cannot be said to recommend that every lady, before she
embarks, should be able to tune her piano.