Artist’s striking photography reveals hidden depths of musical instruments

11 February 2022, 13:54 | Updated: 15 February 2022, 10:27

The inside of a cello
The inside of a cello. Picture: Charles Brooks

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Photographer Charles Brooks invites us to discover the inner workings of our musical instruments...

Musical instruments are often thought of as beautiful; from centuries-old violins, to new gold lacquered saxophones, they’re often a work of art in their own right.

But have you ever wondered what the inside of your instrument looks like? Perhaps you’ve peered into a gap between the strings, or pads, to only have been met with darkness.

Now, as part of New Zealand photographer, Charles Brooks’ series, ‘Architecture of Music’, we’re given a rare insight into the inner operations of our tuneful tools.

Brooks, a talented orchestral cellist who has performed with the likes of Lang Lang and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, uses his knowledge of music to create these intimate portraits of instruments.

Using between dozens to hundreds of individual frames to create each photo, Brooks creates the illusion of space in his photos, “tricking the mind into believing that it’s seeing an expansive chamber you could walk through”.

Read more: 23 historic photographs of classical composers doing incredibly normal things

  1. Lockey Hill Cello Circa 1780

    The inside of a rare Lockey Hill cello from around 1780. Photographed whilst under restoration at the Stringed Instrument Company in Auckland, New Zealand.

    Lockey Hill Cello Circa 1780
    Lockey Hill Cello Circa 1780. Picture: Charles Brooks
  2. The Exquisite Architecture of Steinway

    The action of a Steinway Model D Grand Piano. Photographed at Lewis Eady’s in Auckland.

    The Exquisite Architecture of Steinway, Part 1
    The Exquisite Architecture of Steinway, Part 1. Picture: Charles Brooks
    The Exquisite Architecture of Steinway, Part 2
    The Exquisite Architecture of Steinway, Part 2. Picture: Charles Brooks
    The Exquisite Architecture of Steinway, Part 4
    The Exquisite Architecture of Steinway, Part 4. Picture: Charles Brooks
  3. 14k Gold Flute Interior

    The interior of a Burkart Elite 14k Rose Gold Flute. Photographed while under restoration at Neige Music Atelier in New Zealand.

    14k Gold Flute Interior
    14k Gold Flute Interior. Picture: Charles Brooks
  4. 1940s Selmer Balanced Action Saxophone

    The interior of a 1940s Selmer Balanced Action Saxophone, owned by renowned New Zealand Saxophonist Dr. Roger Manins. Photographed while under restoration at Neige Music Atelier.

    1940s Selmer Balanced Action Saxophone
    1940s Selmer Balanced Action Saxophone. Picture: Charles Brooks
  5. Fazioli Grand Piano

    The sublime action of a Fazioli Grand Piano. Photographed at Sly’s Pianos, Auckland.

    Fazioli Grand Piano Part 4
    Fazioli Grand Piano Part 4. Picture: Charles Brooks
    Fazioli Grand Piano Part 2
    Fazioli Grand Piano Part 2. Picture: Charles Brooks
  6. Australian Didgeridoo

    A unique view inside an Australian Didgeridoo by Trevor Gillespie/Peckham (Bungerroo) of New South Wales.

    Australian Didgeridoo
    Australian Didgeridoo. Picture: Charles Brooks
  7. Kawai Grand Piano

    The Millennium III action of a Kawai Grand Piano, KBB Music, Auckland.

    Kawai Grand Piano Part 1
    Kawai Grand Piano Part 1. Picture: Charles Brooks
    Kawai Grand Piano Part 2
    Kawai Grand Piano Part 2. Picture: Charles Brooks

Discover more in Charles Brooks’ Architecture in Music series on his website.