Music series

The Architecture of Music series explores the interiors of musical instruments

A stunning new set of photos has shed light on the remarkable interiors of a range of musical instruments.

Images captured by Auckland-based photographer Charles Brooks show the hidden ‘architecture’ that goes into creating some of the world’s most unique cellos, flutes, pianos and saxophones.

The stunning array of shots, each compiled from hundreds of separate images, show in brilliant detail the “vast and cavernous” spaces inside the instruments, appearing to replicate grand cathedrals and hallways.

A cellist since childhood, Brooks has spent twenty years performing with orchestras around the world, an experience that sparked curiosity about the inner workings of the instruments around him.

He has now released a number of images he captured in a series called Architecture in Music, seeking to uncover the hidden autonomies of these instruments.

Brooks said he became fascinated with the inside of the instrument as he “never really knew what was going on inside”, but would love to see the inner workings of a cello or grand piano during repair.

A new series of stunning photos taken by Auckland-based cellist-turned-photographer Charles Brooks have shed light on the remarkable interiors of a range of musical instruments. Pictured: The inner workings of a Fazioli grand piano captured at Sly’s Pianos, Auckland.

Inside the F-holes: This photo shows the inside of a rare Lockey Hill cello from around 1780. It was photographed while being restored at the Stringed Instrument Company in Auckland, Australia New Zealand.

Inside the F-holes: This photo shows the inside of a rare Lockey Hill cello from around 1780. It was photographed while being restored at the Stringed Instrument Company in Auckland, Australia New Zealand.

The stunning array of shots, each compiled from hundreds of separate images, show in brilliant detail the spaces

The stunning array of shots, each compiled from hundreds of separate images, show in brilliant detail the “vast and cavernous” spaces inside the instruments, appearing to replicate grand cathedrals and hallways. Pictured: The inside of a Burkart Elite 14k rose gold flute at Neige Music Atelier in New Zealand.

Brooks said he became fascinated with the interior of the instrument because it

Brooks said he became fascinated with the inside of the instrument as he “never really knew what was going on inside”, but would love to see the inner workings of a cello or grand piano during repair. Pictured: a Fazioli grand piano

Speaking about the project, Brooks said, “Concert halls often mirror the shapes and curves of instruments.  I wanted to reverse this by making the interior of the instruments themselves appear large and cavernous.  Pictured: The keys of a Steinway Model D grand piano captured at Lewis Eady's in Auckland

Speaking about the project, Brooks said, “Concert halls often mirror the shapes and curves of instruments. I wanted to reverse this by making the interior of the instruments themselves appear large and cavernous. Pictured: The keys of a Steinway Model D grand piano captured at Lewis Eady’s in Auckland

His photos, however, attempt to take the inside look to the next level, bringing the entire interior of each instrument into focus, rather than allowing a ’tilt-shift’ blur effect to allow the mind to give the impression that the inside of a flute is small. and cramped.

Speaking about the project, Brooks said, “Concert halls often mirror the shapes and curves of instruments. I wanted to reverse this by making the interior of the instruments themselves appear large and cavernous.

To do this, Brooks used specialized techniques and equipment.

Using a probe lens with a narrow aperture of just f/14″ which means you need a huge amount of light” he was able to capture huge amounts of detail inside each instrument.

“Shooting with Lumix cameras and an exotic Laowa Probe lens, I took hundreds of photos, slowly moving the focus back and forth, and combined them with a technique called focus stacking,” he added.

“The result is a crisp, sharp front-to-back image, and that’s what created this wonderful illusion.

Pictured: Inside a 1980s Yanagisawa T4 saxophone which was pictured while being restored at the Neige Music Atelier in New Zealand

Pictured: Inside a 1980s Yanagisawa T4 saxophone which was pictured while being restored at the Neige Music Atelier in New Zealand

Pictured: The action of a Steinway Model D grand piano. Photographed at Lewis Eady's in Auckland

Pictured: The action of a Steinway Model D grand piano. Photographed at Lewis Eady’s in Auckland

Pictured: The strings of a Steinway Model D grand piano. Photographed at Lewis Eady's in Auckland.

Pictured: The strings of a Steinway Model D grand piano. Photographed at Lewis Eady’s in Auckland.

Pictured: The interior of a 1940s Selmer Balanced Action Saxophone owned by famed New Zealand saxophonist Dr. Roger Manins.  Photographed during restoration at Neige Music Atelier

Pictured: The interior of a 1940s Selmer Balanced Action Saxophone owned by famed New Zealand saxophonist Dr. Roger Manins. Photographed during restoration at Neige Music Atelier

Pictured: A unique view inside an Australian didgeridoo by Trevor Gillespie / Peckham (Bungerroo) from New South Wales

Pictured: A unique view inside an Australian didgeridoo by Trevor Gillespie / Peckham (Bungerroo) from New South Wales

Pictured: The interior of a 2021 Selmer saxophone, private collection

Pictured: The interior of a 2021 Selmer saxophone, private collection

“Our brains are wired to expect photographs of small spaces to have shallow depth of field. When everything is clear, we automatically assume that the space is large. It’s essentially the opposite of the tilt-shift-miniature effect that was all the rage a few years ago.

In one of his compositions, he frames the shadows cast by the F holes of a cello on its wooden back, to give the appearance of a creaky old wooden house as the sun shines through the windows. .

In another, the uniform row of hammers of a grand piano makes it look more like a futuristic construction project than musical components.

“Some instruments really surprised me,” Brooks added.

“I had never thought of looking inside a didgeridoo before and was amazed to find it was carved by termites, rather than by hand!”

About the project, he says, “It’s a work in progress. I still find wonderful new instruments, and technical hurdles with them. Even with the probe lens, some are hard to get to, and illuminating them can be a huge struggle.