Braehead’s Ghostly Tunes Draw Shoppers

Say you want more music in your center. Do you pipe in more tunes, or set up a busking program? Or do you bring in a player piano?

That was Braehead Shopping Centre’s solution, and it’s been a good one so far. Pianos that play themselves were once common—a good 90 years back, or so. Now they’re a little more magical, and that’s working in the center’s favor.

Shoppers have been loving it, staring in amazement at the black baby grand piano as the keys move up and down on their own playing all kinds of music. The pianola, made by Halle and Voight, can play up to 5000 tunes. It’s tucked away in the lower mall, but that hasn’t stopped it from gathering a crowd.

This is a more modern take on the old classic, of course—traditional pianolas would need quite the library of music rolls to support 5000 songs. In this case, special computer software triggers the keys to play any song in its library, including pop, jazz, country, Hollywood movie themes and classical.

“As far as we know we’re the first shopping centre in Scotland to have a piano permanently installed in the middle of a mall – never mind one that plays itself – to entertain the shoppers,” said the center’s operations manager, Gary Turnbull. “When we have it playing, shoppers can’t believe what they are seeing and lots of people have been taking photographs of the piano keys moving up and down on their own to play the tunes.”

“So far the most popular tunes have been Beatles songs and at one point we even had an old lady and some kids dancing along to the music. One man was so impressed he asked our staff where he could get one for himself.”

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