A Loom Plays A Lot Like A Piano

  1. loom screen shot

Trudy Thomson Weaves a Twill Pattern for a Shawl at Her Loom from Trudy Thomson on Vimeo.

Have you ever thought about the idea that a loom is a lot like a piano? Both create patterns and percussive sounds.

If you play the piano well, you read a musical score — the notation of notes on the treble or bass cleft — to produce a sound that presents itself as melody and chords. With a woven presentation, you read a “draft” and follow it closely to properly place each warp thread in a corresponding harness so that the resulting woven piece has a precise, repetitive pattern. One could say of the woven piece, there are rises and falls in the pitch.
Another thing to consider. With both “instruments” there is rhythm. Yes, the loom is a percussive instrument when you listen to the sound of wooden “blocks”: the clank as harnesses rise and fall, the chop as the reed is pulled to and fro. And, there are strings on a loom; mine has wire heddles through which the warp is stretched — to control which strings are pulled up or down; the piano has strung wires that are gently hammered — to produce a different pitch. Another similarity? A piano has pedals beneath that are used to sustain the sound, while the working of the treadles beneath the loom — the sequence followed — is what produces the pattern.

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