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Vlad Savin Gives Pripyat's Abandoned Pianos A Voice Once More

photo by Andre Joosse

35 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the abandoned pianos of the nearby city of Pripyat can be played once more. Composer and audio designer Vlad Savin made many trips into Chernobyl's Exclusion Zone over several years to discover and record as many pianos as he could find to create a sample library that can be used by composers for their audio projects.

As the founder of Strix Instruments, Vlad was recording samples in the Exclusion Zone for an audio project when he discovered one of Pripyat's many pianos. He says the sound from hitting the keys made him realize they would never be heard again. Over the 100 visits to Pripyat, he and his team recorded 20 different pianos in various conditions. Many were missing their lower strings, which had been stolen for the metal, but they still had functioning sustain pedals. Vlad overlaid the samples he recorded to create a single unique voice.


Vlad and the team also recorded the sounds of the spaces in Pripyat and other areas of the Exclusion Zone, including one of the partially-finished water cooling tanks. He says the otherworldy resonance of the tank was the most incredible sound he's ever heard. 


Access to the Exclusion Zone is extremely limited now, and Vlad says one of the most meaningful aspects of his project is that he was able to preserve an audio record of a moment frozen in time that anyone can experience for themselves.

Episode tracklist:

all tracks composed using Pripyat Pianos samples created by Strix Instruments

32 Years, Night Theme; Tense; Pripyat Pianos by Torley; Ghosts of Yesterday (Naked) by Brian Brylow

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Thanks to Dick Roberts for production assistance

Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Kate Remington joined WSHU in December of 2000, and she's been WSHU's Music Director since 2002.
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