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The piano is an
acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt Nicole EP) * Acoustic (Joey Cape and Tony Sly album), ''Acoustic'' (Joey Cape and Tony Sly album), 2004 * Aco ...
, keyboard and
stringed musical instrument String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instru ...
in which the strings are struck by wooden hammers that are coated with a softer material (modern hammers are covered with dense wool felt; some early pianos used leather). It is played using a
keyboard
keyboard
, which is a row of keys (small levers) that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings. It was invented in Italy by
Bartolomeo Cristofori Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco (; May 4, 1655 – January 27, 1731) was an Italian maker of musical instruments famous for inventing the piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ...

Bartolomeo Cristofori
around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain),


Description

The word "piano" is a shortened form of ''pianoforte'', the Italian term for the early 1700s versions of the instrument, which in turn derives from ''clavicembalo col piano e forte'' (key
cimbalom The cimbalom (; ) or concert cimbalom is a type of composed of a large, trapezoidal box on legs with metal strings stretched across its top and a dampening pedal underneath. It was designed and created by in 1874 in , based on his modification ...

cimbalom
with quieter and louder)Pollens (1995, 238) and ''
fortepiano A fortepiano is an early piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt Nicole EP) * Acoustic (Joey Cape and Ton ...
''. The Italian musical terms ''piano'' and ''forte'' indicate "soft" and "loud" respectively, in this context referring to the variations in volume (i.e., loudness) produced in response to a pianist's touch or pressure on the keys: the greater the velocity of a key press, the greater the force of the hammer hitting the strings, and the louder the sound of the note produced and the stronger the attack. The name was created as a contrast to
harpsichord A harpsichord ( it, clavicembalo, french: clavecin, german: Cembalo, es, clavecín, pt, cravo, nl, klavecimbel) is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that ...
, a musical instrument that does not allow variation in volume; compared to the harpsichord, the first fortepianos in the 1700s had a quieter sound and smaller dynamic range. A piano usually has a protective wooden case surrounding the soundboard and metal
strings String or strings may refer to: *String (structure), a long flexible structure made from threads twisted together, which is used to tie, bind, or hang other objects Arts, entertainment, and media Films * Strings (1991 film), ''Strings'' (1991 fil ...
, which are strung under great tension on a heavy metal frame. Pressing one or more keys on the piano's keyboard causes a wooden or plastic hammer (typically padded with firm felt) to strike the strings. The hammer rebounds from the strings, and the strings continue to vibrate at their
resonant frequency Resonance describes the phenomenon of increased amplitude The amplitude of a Periodic function, periodic Variable (mathematics), variable is a measure of its change in a single Period (mathematics), period (such as frequency, time or Wavelen ...

resonant frequency
. These vibrations are transmitted through a
bridge A bridge is a structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules t ...
to a soundboard that amplifies by more efficiently
coupling A coupling is a device used to connect two shafts together at their ends for the purpose of transmitting power. The primary purpose of couplings is to join two pieces of rotating equipment while permitting some degree of misalignment or end move ...
the acoustic energy to the air. When the key is released, a damper stops the strings' vibration, ending the sound. Notes can be sustained, even when the keys are released by the fingers and thumbs, by the use of
pedals A pedal (from the Latin ''pes'' ''pedis'', "foot") is a lever A lever ( or ) is a simple machine A simple machine is a mechanical device that changes the direction or magnitude of a force In physics Physics (from grc, φυ ...

pedals
at the base of the instrument. The sustain pedal enables pianists to play musical passages that would otherwise be impossible, such as sounding a 10-note chord in the lower register and then, while this chord is being continued with the sustain pedal, shifting both hands to the treble range to play a melody and arpeggios over the top of this sustained chord. Unlike the
pipe organ #REDIRECT Pipe organ #REDIRECT Pipe organ #REDIRECT Pipe organ The pipe organ is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be consid ...

pipe organ
and harpsichord, two major
keyboard instrument A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that t ...
s widely used before the piano, the piano allows gradations of volume and tone according to how forcefully or softly a performer presses or strikes the keys. Most modern pianos have a row of 88 black and white keys, 52 white keys for the
notes Note, notes, or NOTE may refer to: Music and entertainment * Musical note In music, a note is a symbol denoting a musical sound. In English usage a note is also the sound itself. Notes can represent the Pitch (music), pitch and Duration (music), ...
of the
C major C major (or the key of C) is a major scale The major scale (or Ionian mode) is one of the most commonly used musical scales In music theory Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. ''The Oxford Companion to ...

C major
scale (C, D, E, F, G, A and B) and 36 shorter black keys, which are raised above the white keys, and set further back on the keyboard. This means that the piano can play 88 different pitches (or "notes"), spanning a
range Range may refer to: Geography * Range (geographic)A range, in geography, is a chain of hill A hill is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body. Landforms together ...
of a bit over seven octaves. The black keys are for the " accidentals" (F/G, G/A, A/B, C/D, and D/E), which are needed to play in all twelve keys. More rarely, some pianos have additional keys (which require additional strings), an example of which is the
Bösendorfer Bösendorfer (L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH) is an Austrian piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt ...

Bösendorfer
Concert Grand 290 Imperial, which has 97 keys. Most notes have three strings, except for the bass, which graduates from one to two. The strings are sounded when keys are pressed or struck, and silenced by dampers when the hands are lifted from the keyboard. Although an acoustic piano has strings, it is usually classified as a
percussion instrument A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater (percussion), beater including attached or enclosed beaters or Rattle (percussion beater), rattles struck, scraped or rubbed by hand or ...
rather than as a stringed instrument, because the strings are struck rather than plucked (as with a harpsichord or
spinet A spinet is a smaller type of harpsichord A harpsichord ( it, clavicembalo, french: clavecin, german: Cembalo, es, clavecín, pt, cravo, nl, klavecimbel) is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make mus ...

spinet
); in the
Hornbostel–Sachs Hornbostel–Sachs or Sachs–Hornbostel is a system of musical instrument classification In the study of musical instruments, organology, there are many different methods of classifying musical instruments. Most methods are specific to a partic ...
system of instrument classification, pianos are considered
chordophone String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument ...
s. There are two main types of piano: the
grand piano The piano is an acoustic instrument, acoustic, keyboard instrument, keyboard and stringed musical instrument in which the strings are struck by wooden hammers that are coated with a softer material (modern hammers are covered with dense wool f ...
and the
upright piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt Nicole EP) * Acoustic (Joey Cape and Tony Sly album), ''Acoustic'' (Joey Cape ...
. The grand piano has a better sound and gives the player a more precise control of the keys, and is therefore the preferred choice for every situation in which the available floor-space and the budget will allow, as well as often being considered a requirement in venues where skilled pianists will frequently give public performances. The upright piano, which necessarily involves some compromise in both tone and key action compared to a grand piano of equivalent quality, is nevertheless much more widely used, because it occupies less space (allowing it to fit comfortably in a room where a grand piano would be too large) and is significantly less expensive. During the 1800s, influenced by the musical trends of the
Romantic music era Romantic music is a stylistic movement in Western orchestral music associated with the period of the nineteenth century commonly referred to as the Romantic era (or Romantic period). It is closely related to the broader concept of Romanticism ...
, innovations such as the
cast iron Cast iron is a group of iron-carbon alloys with a carbon content more than 2%. Its usefulness derives from its relatively low melting temperature. The alloy constituents affect its colour when fractured: white cast iron has carbide impuritie ...
frame (which allowed much greater string tensions) and
aliquot stringingAliquot stringing is the use of extra, un-struck strings in the piano The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain), in which the strings are ...
gave grand pianos a more powerful sound, with a longer
sustain In sound and music, an envelope describes how a sound changes over time. It may relate to elements such as amplitude (volume), Voltage-controlled filter, filters (frequencies) or Pitch (music), pitch. For example, a piano key, when struck and held ...
and richer tone. In the nineteenth century, a family's piano played the same role that a radio or phonograph played in the twentieth century; when a nineteenth-century family wanted to hear a newly published musical piece or
symphony A symphony is an extended musical composition Musical composition can refer to an Originality, original piece or work of music, either Human voice, vocal or Musical instrument, instrumental, the musical form, structure of a musical piece ...

symphony
, they could hear it by having a family member play a simplified version on the piano. During the nineteenth century, music publishers produced many types of musical works (symphonies, opera overtures, waltzes, etc.) in arrangements for piano, so that music lovers could play and hear the popular pieces of the day in their home. The piano is widely employed in
classical Classical may refer to: European antiquity *Classical antiquity, a period of history from roughly the 7th or 8th century B.C.E. to the 5th century C.E. centered on the Mediterranean Sea *Classical architecture, architecture derived from Greek and ...

classical
,
jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human s ...
,
traditional A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the wo ...

traditional
and
popular Popularity or social status is the quality of being well liked, admired or well known to a particular group. Popular may also refer to: In sociology * Mainstream, the quality of being common, well received, in demand, widely understood ** See ...
music for
solo Solo or SOLO may refer to: Arts and entertainment Comics * ''Solo'' (DC Comics), a DC comics series * Solo, a 1996 mini-series from Dark Horse Comics Dark Horse Comics is an American comic book and manga publisher. It was founded in 1986 by Mike ...

solo
and
ensemble Ensemble may refer to: Art * Musical ensemble * Ensemble cast (drama, comedy) * Ensemble (musical theatre), also known as the chorus * Ensemble (band), a project of Olivier Alary * Ensemble (album), ''Ensemble'' (album), Kendji Girac 2015 album ...
performances, accompaniment, and for composing,
songwriting Songwriting partners Rodgers and Hart working on a song in 1936 A songwriter is a musician A musician is a person who composes, conducts, or performs music. A musician who records and releases music is known as a recording artist. Accordi ...
and rehearsals. Although the piano is very heavy and thus not portable and is expensive (in comparison with other widely used accompaniment instruments, such as the
acoustic guitar
acoustic guitar
), its musical versatility (i.e., its wide pitch range, ability to play
chords Chord may refer to: * Chord (music) A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches/frequencies consisting of multiple Musical note, notes (also called "pitches") that are heard as if sounding Simultaneity (music), simultaneously. For m ...
, louder or softer notes and two or more independent musical lines at the same time), the large number of musicians - both amateurs and professionals - trained in playing it, and its wide availability in performance venues, schools and rehearsal spaces have made it one of the Western world's most familiar musical instruments.


History

upEarly piano replica by the modern builder Paul McNulty, after Walter & Sohn, 1805 The piano was founded on earlier technological innovations in
keyboard instrument A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that t ...
s.
Pipe organ #REDIRECT Pipe organ #REDIRECT Pipe organ #REDIRECT Pipe organ The pipe organ is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be consid ...

Pipe organ
s have been used since antiquity, and as such, the development of pipe organs enabled instrument builders to learn about creating keyboard mechanisms for sounding pitches. The first
string instrument String instruments, stringed instruments, or chordophones are musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument ...

string instrument
s with struck strings were the
hammered dulcimer The hammered dulcimer (also called the hammer dulcimer, dulcimer, santouri, or tympanon) is a percussion A percussion instrument is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds ...
s, which were used since the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
in Europe. During the Middle Ages, there were several attempts at creating stringed
keyboard instrument A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that t ...
s with struck strings. By the 17th century, the mechanisms of keyboard instruments such as the
clavichord The clavichord is a Western European stringed rectangular keyboard instrument A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that pro ...

clavichord
and the harpsichord were well developed. In a clavichord, the strings are struck by tangents, while in a harpsichord, they are mechanically plucked by quills when the performer depresses the key. Centuries of work on the mechanism of the harpsichord in particular had shown instrument builders the most effective ways to construct the case, soundboard, bridge, and mechanical action for a keyboard intended to sound strings.


Invention

The invention of the piano is credited to
Bartolomeo Cristofori Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco (; May 4, 1655 – January 27, 1731) was an Italian maker of musical instruments famous for inventing the piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ...

Bartolomeo Cristofori
(1655–1731) of
Padua Padua ( ; it, Padova ; vec, Pàdova) is a city and ''comune'' in Veneto, northern Italy. Padua is on the river Bacchiglione, west of Venice. It is the capital of the province of Padua. It is also the economic and communications hub of the a ...
, Italy, who was employed by
Ferdinando de' Medici, Grand Prince of Tuscany Ferdinando de' Medici (9 August 1663 – 31 October 1713) was the eldest son of Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III de' Medici (14 August 1642 – 31 October 1723) was the sixth and penultimate Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany ...
, as the Keeper of the Instruments. Cristofori was an expert harpsichord maker, and was well acquainted with the body of knowledge on stringed keyboard instruments; this knowledge of keyboard mechanisms and actions helped him to develop the first pianos. It is not known exactly when Cristofori first built a piano. An inventory made by his employers, the
Medici The House of Medici ( , ) was an Italian banking family and political dynasty Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social ...

Medici
family, indicates the existence of a piano by the year 1700. The three Cristofori pianos that survive today date from the 1720s. Cristofori named the instrument ''un cimbalo di cipresso di piano e forte'' ("a keyboard of
cypress Cypress is a common name for various conifer Conifers are a group of conifer cone, cone-bearing Spermatophyte, seed plants, a subset of gymnosperms. Scientifically, they make up the phylum, division Pinophyta (), also known as Coniferophyta ( ...

cypress
with soft and loud"), abbreviated over time as ''pianoforte'', ''fortepiano'', and later, simply, piano. Cristofori's great success was designing a stringed keyboard instrument in which the notes are struck by a hammer. The hammer must strike the string, but not remain in contact with it, because continued contact would damp the sound and stop the string from vibrating and making sound. This means that after striking the string, the hammer must quickly fall from (or rebound from) the strings. Moreover, the hammer must return to its rest position without bouncing violently (thus preventing notes from being re-played by accidental rebound), and it must return to a position in which it is ready to play again almost immediately after its key is depressed, so the player can repeat the same note rapidly when desired. Cristofori's piano
action ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the . History On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake (now ) in the south and in the north. The service was first known as Canberra City Omnibus Se ...
was a model for the many approaches to piano actions that followed in the next century. Cristofori's early instruments were made with thin strings, and were much quieter than the modern piano, but they were much louder and with more
sustain In sound and music, an envelope describes how a sound changes over time. It may relate to elements such as amplitude (volume), Voltage-controlled filter, filters (frequencies) or Pitch (music), pitch. For example, a piano key, when struck and held ...
in comparison to the clavichord—the only previous keyboard instrument capable of dynamic nuance responding to the player's touch, the velocity with which the keys are pressed. While the clavichord allows expressive control of volume and sustain, it is relatively quiet even at its loudest. The harpsichord produces a sufficiently loud sound, especially when a coupler joins each key to both manuals of a two-manual harpsichord, but it offers no dynamic or expressive control over individual notes. The piano in some sense offers the best of both of the older instruments, combining the ability to play at least as loudly as a harpsichord with the ability to continuously vary dynamics by touch.


Early fortepiano

Cristofori's new instrument remained relatively unknown until an Italian writer,
Scipione Maffei Francesco Scipione Maffei (; 1 June 1675 – 11 February 1755) was a Venetian writer and art critic An art critic is a person who is specialized in analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating art. Their written critiques or reviews contribute to a ...

Scipione Maffei
, wrote an enthusiastic article about it in 1711, including a diagram of the mechanism, that was translated into German and widely distributed. Most of the next generation of piano builders started their work based on reading this article. One of these builders was
Gottfried Silbermann Gottfried Silbermann (January 14, 1683 – August 4, 1753) was a German builder of keyboard instruments. He built s, s, s, and s; his modern reputation rests mainly on the latter two. Life Very little is known about Silbermann's youth. He was bor ...
, better known as an
organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's tissues can be broadly cate ...
builder. Silbermann's pianos were virtually direct copies of Cristofori's, with one important addition: Silbermann invented the forerunner of the modern
sustain pedal A sustain pedal or sustaining pedal (also called damper pedal, loud pedal, or open pedal) is the most commonly used pedal A pedal (from the Latin '' pes'' ''pedis'', "foot") is a lever A lever ( or ) is a simple machine consisting of a b ...
, which lifts all the dampers from the strings simultaneously. This innovation allows the pianist to sustain the notes that they have depressed even after their fingers are no longer pressing down the keys. As such, by holding a chord with the sustain pedal, pianists can relocate their hands to a different register of the keyboard in preparation for a subsequent section. Silbermann showed
Johann Sebastian Bach Johann Sebastian Bach (28 July 1750) was a German composer and musician of the late Baroque music, Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Cello Suites (Bach), Cello Suites and ''Brandenburg Concertos''; keyboard ...

Johann Sebastian Bach
one of his early instruments in the 1730s, but Bach did not like the instrument at that time, saying that the higher notes were too soft to allow a full dynamic range. Although this earned him some animosity from Silbermann, the criticism was apparently heeded. Bach did approve of a later instrument he saw in 1747, and even served as an agent in selling Silbermann's pianos. "Instrument: piano et forte genandt"—a reference to the instrument's ability to play soft and loud—was an expression that Bach used to help sell the instrument when he was acting as Silbermann's agent in 1749.. "Instrument: piano et forte genandt" an expression Bach also used when acting as Silbermann's agent in 1749." Piano making flourished during the late 18th century in the Viennese school, which included
Johann Andreas Stein Johann (Georg) Andreas Stein (16 May 1728 in Heidelsheim – 29 February 1792 in Augsburg), was an outstanding German maker of keyboard instruments, a central figure in the history of the piano. He was primarily responsible for the design of th ...
(who worked in
Augsburg Augsburg ( , , ; bar, Augschburg, links=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swabian_German, label=Swabian German) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, ...

Augsburg
, Germany) and the Viennese makers Nannette Streicher (daughter of Stein) and
Anton Walter Gabriel Anton Walter (5 February 1752 – 11 April 1826) was a builder of pianos. The '' Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians'' describes him as "the most famous Viennese piano maker of his time".Latcham (2009) Life Walter was born in Neuhau ...

Anton Walter
. Viennese-style pianos were built with wood frames, two strings per note, and leather-covered hammers. Some of these Viennese pianos had the opposite coloring of modern-day pianos; the natural keys were black and the accidental keys white. It was for such instruments that
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 17565 December 1791), baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical periodClassical period may refer to: *Classical Greece, speci ...

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
composed his
concertos A concerto (; plural ''concertos'', or ''concerti'' from the Italian plural) is, from the late Baroque era, mostly understood as an instrumental An instrumental is a recording normally without any vocals, although it might include some inarticul ...

concertos
and
sonatas Sonata (; Italian: , pl. ''sonate''; from Latin and Italian: ''sonare'' rchaic Italian; replaced in the modern language by ''suonare'' "to sound"), in music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through ...
, and replicas of them are built in the 21st century for use in authentic-instrument performance of his music. The pianos of Mozart's day had a softer tone than 21st century pianos or English pianos, with less sustaining power. The term ''
fortepiano A fortepiano is an early piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt Nicole EP) * Acoustic (Joey Cape and Ton ...
'' now distinguishes these early instruments (and modern re-creations) from later pianos.


Modern piano

In the period from about 1790 to 1860, the Mozart-era piano underwent tremendous changes that led to the modern structure of the instrument. This revolution was in response to a preference by composers and pianists for a more powerful, sustained piano sound, and made possible by the ongoing
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
with resources such as high-quality
piano wire Piano wire, or "music wire", is a specialized type of wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads or electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomen ...
for
strings String or strings may refer to: *String (structure), a long flexible structure made from threads twisted together, which is used to tie, bind, or hang other objects Arts, entertainment, and media Films * Strings (1991 film), ''Strings'' (1991 fil ...
, and precision
casting Casting is a manufacturing Manufacturing is the creation or Production (economics), production of goods with the help of equipment, Work (human activity), labor, machines, tools, and chemical or biological processing or formulation. It is th ...
for the production of massive iron frames that could withstand the tremendous tension of the strings. Over time, the tonal range of the piano was also increased from the five
octave In music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated co ...

octave
s of Mozart's day to the seven octave (or more) range found on today's pianos. Early technological progress in the late 1700s owed much to the firm of Broadwood.
John Broadwood right Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social co ...

John Broadwood
joined with another Scot, Robert Stodart, and a Dutchman,
Americus Backers Americus Backers (died 1778), sometimes described as the father of the English grand pianoforte The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain), ...
, to design a piano in the harpsichord case—the origin of the "grand". This was achieved by about 1777. They quickly gained a reputation for the splendour and powerful tone of their instruments, with Broadwood constructing pianos that were progressively larger, louder, and more robustly constructed. They sent pianos to both
Joseph Haydn Franz Joseph Haydn (; ; 31 March 173231 May 1809) was an Austrian composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially classical music in an ...

Joseph Haydn
and
Ludwig van Beethoven Ludwig van Beethoven (, ; baptised 17 December 177026 March 1827) was a German composer A composer (Latin wikt:compono, ''compōnō''; literally "one who puts together") is a person who writes musical composition, music, especially class ...

Ludwig van Beethoven
, and were the first firm to build pianos with a range of more than five octaves: five octaves and a
fifth Fifth is the Ordinal number (linguistics), ordinal form of the number 5, five. Fifth or The Fifth may refer to: * Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as in the expression "pleading the Fifth" * Fifth column, a political term * Fifth ...
during the 1790s, six octaves by 1810 (Beethoven used the extra notes in his later works), and seven octaves by 1820. The
Viennese Viennese may refer to: * Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, national capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's List of ...

Viennese
makers similarly followed these trends; however the two schools used different piano actions: Broadwoods used a more robust action, whereas Viennese instruments were more sensitive. By the 1820s, the center of piano innovation had shifted to Paris, where the
Pleyel Ignace Joseph Pleyel (; ; 18 June 1757 – 14 November 1831) was an Austrian-born French composer and piano builder of the Classical periodClassical period may refer to: *Classical Greece, specifically of the 5th and 4th centuries BC *Classi ...
firm manufactured pianos used by
Frédéric Chopin Frédéric François Chopin (born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin; 1 March 181017 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso A virtuoso (from Italian ''virtuoso'' or , "virtuous", Late Latin Late Latin ( la, Latinitas serior) is the ...

Frédéric Chopin
and the Érard firm manufactured those used by
Franz Liszt Franz Liszt (; hu, Liszt Ferencz, link=no, in modern usage ''Liszt Ferenc'' ; 22 October 181131 July 1886) was a Hungarian composer, virtuoso A virtuoso (from Italian ''virtuoso'' or , "virtuous", Late Latin Late Latin ( la, Latinitas ...

Franz Liszt
. In 1821,
Sébastien Érard Sébastien Érard (born Sebastian Erhard, 5 April 1752 – 5 August 1831) was a French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link= ...

Sébastien Érard
invented the double escapement
action ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the . History On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake (now ) in the south and in the north. The service was first known as Canberra City Omnibus Se ...
, which incorporated a ''repetition lever'' (also called the ''balancier'') that permitted repeating a note even if the key had not yet risen to its maximum vertical position. This facilitated rapid playing of repeated notes, a musical device exploited by Liszt. When the invention became public, as revised by
Henri Herz Henri Herz (6 January 1803 – 5 January 1888) was a virtuoso piano, pianist, composer and piano manufacturer, Austrian by birth and France, French by nationality and domicile. He was a professor in the Paris Conservatoire for more than thirty yea ...
, the double escapement action gradually became standard in grand pianos, and is still incorporated into all grand pianos currently produced in the 2000s. Other improvements of the mechanism included the use of firm felt hammer coverings instead of layered leather or cotton. Felt, which
Jean-Henri Pape Jean-Henri Pape, born as Johann Heinrich Pape and also known as Henry Pape (1 July 1789 – 2 February 1875), was a distinguished French maker of pianos and harps in the early 19th century. Pape was born in Sarstedt, Germany, in 1789. He arriv ...
was the first to use in pianos in 1826, was a more consistent material, permitting wider dynamic ranges as hammer weights and string tension increased. The
sostenuto pedal Piano pedals are foot-operated levers at the base of a piano that change the instrument's sound in various ways. Modern pianos usually have three pedals, from left to right, the soft pedal (or una corda), the #Sostenuto pedal, sostenuto pedal, and ...
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see below See or SEE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Music: ** See (album), ''See'' (album), studio album by rock band The Rascals *** "See", song by The Rascals, on the album ''See'' ** See (Tycho song), "See" (Tycho song), song by Tycho * T ...

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), invented in 1844 by Jean-Louis Boisselot and copied by the
Steinway Steinway & Sons, also known as Steinway, () is a German-American piano The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain), in which the strings ...
firm in 1874, allowed a wider range of effects. One innovation that helped create the powerful sound of the modern piano was the use of a massive, strong,
cast iron Cast iron is a group of iron-carbon alloys with a carbon content more than 2%. Its usefulness derives from its relatively low melting temperature. The alloy constituents affect its colour when fractured: white cast iron has carbide impuritie ...
frame. Also called the "plate", the iron frame sits atop the soundboard, and serves as the primary bulwark against the force of string
tension Tension may refer to: Science * Psychological stress * Tension (physics), a force related to the stretching of an object (the opposite of compression) * Tension (geology), a stress which stretches rocks in two opposite directions * Voltage or elect ...
that can exceed 20 tons () in a modern grand piano. The single piece cast iron frame was patented in 1825 in
Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States and 21st List of Unit ...

Boston
by
Alpheus Babcock Alpheus Babcock (September 11, 1785 – April 3, 1842) was a piano The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain), in which the strings are st ...
,Isacoff (2012, 74) combining the metal hitch pin plate (1821, claimed by Broadwood on behalf of Samuel Hervé) and resisting bars (Thom and Allen, 1820, but also claimed by Broadwood and Érard). Babcock later worked for the Chickering & Mackays firm who patented the first full iron frame for grand pianos in 1843. Composite forged metal frames were preferred by many European makers until the American system was fully adopted by the early 20th century. The increased structural integrity of the iron frame allowed the use of thicker, tenser, and more numerous strings. In 1834, the Webster & Horsfal firm of Birmingham brought out a form of piano wire made from cast steel; it was "so superior to the iron wire that the English firm soon had a monopoly."Dolge (1911, 124) But a better steel wire was soon created in 1840 by the
Viennese Viennese may refer to: * Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, national capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's List of ...

Viennese
firm of Martin Miller, and a period of innovation and intense competition ensued, with rival brands of piano wire being tested against one another at international competitions, leading ultimately to the modern form of piano wire. Several important advances included changes to the way the piano was strung. The use of a "choir" of three strings, rather than two for all but the lowest notes, enhanced the richness and complexity of the treble. The use of a Capo d’Astro bar instead of agraffes in the uppermost treble allowed the hammers to strike the strings in their optimal position, greatly increasing that area's power. The implementation of over-stringing (also called cross-stringing), in which the strings are placed in two separate planes, each with its own
bridge A bridge is a structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules t ...
height, allowed greater length to the bass strings and optimized the transition from unwound tenor strings to the iron or copper-wound bass strings. Over-stringing was invented by Pape during the 1820s, and first patented for use in grand pianos in the United States by Henry Steinway Jr. in 1859. Some piano makers added variations to enhance the tone of each note, such as Pascal Taskin (1788), Collard & Collard (1821), and Julius Blüthner, who developed Aliquot stringing in 1893. These systems were used to strengthen the tone of the highest register of notes on the piano, which up until this time were viewed as being too weak-sounding. Each used more distinctly ringing, undamped vibrations of sympathetically vibrating strings to add to the tone, except the Blüthner Aliquot stringing, which uses an additional fourth string in the upper two treble sections. While the hitchpins of these separately suspended Aliquot strings are raised slightly above the level of the usual tri-choir strings, they are not struck by the hammers but rather are damped by attachments of the usual dampers. Eager to copy these effects, Theodore Steinway invented ''duplex scaling'', which used short lengths of non-speaking wire bridged by the "aliquot" throughout much of the upper range of the piano, always in locations that caused them to vibrate sympathetically in conformity with their respective overtones—typically in doubled octaves and twelfths.


Variations in shape and design

Some early pianos had shapes and designs that are no longer in use. The square piano (not truly square, but rectangular) was cross strung at an extremely acute angle above the hammers, with the keyboard set along the long side. This design is attributed to Christian Ernst Friderici, a pupil of Gottfried Silbermann, in Germany, and Johannes Zumpe in England, and it was improved by changes first introduced by Guillaume-Lebrecht Petzold in France and
Alpheus Babcock Alpheus Babcock (September 11, 1785 – April 3, 1842) was a piano The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain), in which the strings are st ...
in the United States. Square pianos were built in great numbers through the 1840s in Europe and the 1890s in the United States, and saw the most visible change of any type of piano: the iron-framed, over-strung squares manufactured by Steinway & Sons were more than two-and-a-half times the size of Zumpe's wood-framed instruments from a century before. Their overwhelming popularity was due to inexpensive construction and price, although their tone and performance were limited by narrow soundboards, simple actions and string spacing that made proper hammer alignment difficult. The tall, vertically strung upright grand was arranged like a grand set on end, with the soundboard and bridges above the keys, and tuning pins below them. "Giraffe pianos", "pyramid pianos" and "lyre pianos" were arranged in a somewhat similar fashion, using evocatively shaped cases. The very tall cabinet piano was introduced about 1805 and was built through the 1840s. It had strings arranged vertically on a continuous frame with bridges extended nearly to the floor, behind the keyboard and very large ''sticker action''. The short cottage upright or ''pianino'' with vertical stringing, made popular by Robert Wornum around 1815, was built into the 20th century. They are informally called ''birdcage pianos'' because of their prominent damper mechanism. The oblique upright, popularized in France by Blanchet (harpsichord makers), Roller & Blanchet during the late 1820s, was diagonally strung throughout its compass. The tiny
spinet A spinet is a smaller type of harpsichord A harpsichord ( it, clavicembalo, french: clavecin, german: Cembalo, es, clavecín, pt, cravo, nl, klavecimbel) is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make mus ...

spinet
upright was manufactured from the mid-1930s until recent times. The low position of the hammers required the use of a "drop action" to preserve a reasonable keyboard height. Modern upright and grand pianos attained their present, 2000-era forms by the end of the 19th century. While improvements have been made in manufacturing processes, and many individual details of the instrument continue to receive attention, and a small number of acoustic pianos in the 2010s are produced with MIDI recording and digital sound module-triggering capabilities, the 19th century was the era of the most dramatic innovations and modifications of the instrument.


Types

Modern pianos have two basic configurations, the grand piano and the upright piano, with various styles of each. There are also specialized and novelty pianos, electric pianos based on electromechanical designs, electronic pianos that synthesize piano-like tones using oscillators, and digital pianos using digital samples of acoustic piano sounds.


Grand

In grand pianos the frame and strings are horizontal, with the strings extending away from the keyboard. The action lies beneath the strings, and uses gravity as its means of return to a state of rest. Grand pianos range in length from approximately to . Some of the lengths have been given more-or-less customary names, which vary from time to time and place to place, but might include: * Baby grand – around * Parlor grand or boudoir grand – * Concert grand – between ) All else being equal, longer pianos with longer strings have larger, richer sound and lower inharmonicity of the strings. Inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequency, frequencies of overtones (known as partials or harmonics) sound sharp (music), sharp relative to whole multiples of the fundamental frequency. This results from the piano's considerable string stiffness; as a struck string decays its harmonics vibrate, not from their termination, but from a point very slightly toward the center (or more flexible part) of the string. The higher the partial, the further sharp it runs. Pianos with shorter and thicker string (i.e., small pianos with short string scales) have more inharmonicity. The greater the inharmonicity, the more the ear perceives it as harshness of tone. The inharmonicity of piano strings requires that octaves be ''Pseudo-octave, stretched,'' or tuned to a lower octave's corresponding sharp overtone rather than to a theoretically correct octave. If octaves are not stretched, single octaves sound in tune, but double—and notably triple—octaves are unacceptably narrow. Stretching a small piano's octaves to match its inherent inharmonicity level creates an imbalance among all the instrument's intervallic relationships. In a concert grand, however, the octave "stretch" retains harmonic balance, even when aligning treble notes to a harmonic produced from three octaves below. This lets close and widespread octaves sound pure, and produces virtually beatless perfect fifths. This gives the concert grand a brilliant, singing and sustaining tone quality—one of the principal reasons that full-size grands are used in the concert hall. Smaller grands satisfy the space and cost needs of domestic use; as well, they are used in some small teaching studios and smaller performance venues.


Upright

Upright pianos, also called vertical pianos, are more compact due to the vertical structure of the frame and strings. The mechanical action structure of the upright piano was invented in London, England in 1826 by Robert Wornum, and upright models became the most popular model. Upright pianos took less space than a grand piano, and as such they were a better size for use in private homes for domestic music-making and practice. The hammers move horizontally, and return to their resting position via springs, which are susceptible to degradation. Upright pianos with unusually tall frames and long strings were sometimes marketed as ''upright grand'' pianos, but that label is misleading. Some authors classify modern pianos according to their height and to modifications of the action that are necessary to accommodate the height. Upright pianos are generally less expensive than grand pianos. Upright pianos are widely used in churches, community centers, schools, music conservatories and university music programs as rehearsal and practice instruments, and they are popular models for in-home purchase. * The top of a
spinet A spinet is a smaller type of harpsichord A harpsichord ( it, clavicembalo, french: clavecin, german: Cembalo, es, clavecín, pt, cravo, nl, klavecimbel) is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make mus ...

spinet
model barely rises above the keyboard. Unlike all other pianos, the spinet action is located below the keys, operated by vertical wires that are attached to the backs of the keys. * Console pianos, which have a compact action (shorter hammers than a large upright has), but because the console's action is above the keys rather than below them as in a spinet, a console almost always plays better than a spinet does. Console pianos are a few inches shorter than studio models. * Studio pianos are around tall. This is the shortest cabinet that can accommodate a full-sized action located above the keyboard. * Anything taller than a studio piano is called an upright. (Technically, any piano with a vertically-oriented soundboard could be called an upright, but that word is often reserved for the full-size models.)


Specialized

The toy piano, introduced in the 19th century, is a small piano-like instrument, that generally uses round metal rods to produce sound, rather than strings. The US Library of Congress recognizes the toy piano as a unique instrument with the subject designation, Toy Piano Scores: M175 T69. In 1863, Henri Fourneaux invented the player piano, which plays itself from a piano roll. A machine perforates a performance recording into rolls of paper, and the player piano replays the performance using pneumatic devices. Modern equivalents of the player piano include the
Bösendorfer Bösendorfer (L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH) is an Austrian piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt ...

Bösendorfer
CEUS, Disklavier, Yamaha Disklavier and QRS Pianomation, using solenoids and MIDI rather than pneumatics and rolls. A silent piano is an acoustic piano having an option to silence the strings by means of an interposing hammer bar. They are designed for private silent practice, to avoid disturbing others. Edward Ryley invented the transposing piano in 1801. This rare instrument has a lever under the keyboard to move the keyboard relative to the strings, so a pianist can play in a familiar key while the music sounds in a different key. The minipiano is an instrument patented by the Brasted brothers of the Eavestaff Ltd. piano company in 1934. This instrument has a braceless back and a soundboard positioned below the keys—long metal rods pull on the levers to make the hammers strike the strings. The first model, known as the ''Pianette'', was unique in that the tuning pins extended through the instrument, so it could be tuned at the front. The prepared piano, present in some contemporary art music from the 20th and 21st century is a piano which has objects placed inside it to alter its sound, or has had its mechanism changed in some other way. The scores for music for prepared piano specify the modifications, for example, instructing the pianist to insert pieces of rubber, paper, metal screws, or washers in between the strings. These objects mute the strings or alter their timbre. The pedal piano is a rare type of piano that has a pedal keyboard at the base, designed to be played by the feet. The pedals may play the existing bass strings on the piano, or rarely, the pedals may have their own set of bass strings and hammer mechanisms. While the typical intended use for pedal pianos is to enable a keyboardist to practice
pipe organ #REDIRECT Pipe organ #REDIRECT Pipe organ #REDIRECT Pipe organ The pipe organ is a musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be consid ...

pipe organ
music at home, a few players of pedal piano use it as a performance instrument. Wadia Sabra had a microtone piano manufactured by Pleyel in 1920. Abdallah Chahine later constructed his quartertone "Oriental piano" with the help of Austrian Frederick Hoffmann, Hofmann.


Electric, electronic, and digital

With Music technology, technological advances, keyboard amplifier, amplified electric pianos (1929), electronic pianos (1970s), and digital pianos (1980s) have been developed. The electric piano became a popular instrument in the 1960s and 1970s genres of jazz fusion, funk music and rock music. The first electric pianos from the late 1920s used metal strings with a magnetic pickup, an Power amplifier, amplifier and a loudspeaker. The electric pianos that became most popular in popular music, pop and rock music in the 1960s and 1970s, such as the Fender Rhodes use metal tines in place of strings and use electromagnetic pickup (music technology), pickups similar to those on an electric guitar. The resulting electrical, analogue signal can then be amplified with a keyboard amplifier or electronically manipulated with effects units. In classical music, electric pianos are mainly used as inexpensive rehearsal or practice instruments. However, electric pianos, particularly the Fender Rhodes, became important instruments in 1970s funk and jazz fusion and in some rock music genres. Electronic pianos are non-acoustic; they do not have strings, tines or hammers, but are a type of synthesizer that simulates or imitates piano sounds using oscillators and filters that synthesize the sound of an acoustic piano. They must be connected to a keyboard amplifier and speaker to produce sound (however, some electronic keyboards have a built-in amp and speaker). Alternatively, a person can play an electronic piano with headphones in quieter settings. Digital pianos are also non-acoustic and do not have strings or hammers. They use sampling (signal processing), digital sampling technology to reproduce the acoustic sound of each piano note accurately. They also must be connected to a power amplifier and speaker to produce sound (however, most digital pianos have a built-in amp and speaker). Alternatively, a person can practice with headphones to avoid disturbing others. Digital pianos can include sustain pedals, weighted or semi-weighted keys, multiple voice options (e.g., sampled or synthesized imitations of electric piano, Hammond organ, violin, etc.), and MIDI interfaces. MIDI inputs and outputs connect a digital piano to other electronic instruments or musical devices. For example, a digital piano's MIDI out signal could be connected by a patch cord to a synth module, which would allow the performer to use the keyboard of the digital piano to play modern synthesizer sounds. Early digital pianos tended to lack a full set of piano pedals, pedals but the synthesis software of later models such as the Yamaha Clavinova series physical modelling synthesis, synthesised the sympathetic strings, sympathetic vibration of the other strings (such as when the sustain pedal is depressed) and full pedal sets can now be replicated. The processing power of digital pianos has enabled highly realistic pianos using multi-gigabyte piano sample sets with as many as ninety recordings, each lasting many seconds, for each key under different conditions (e.g., there are samples of each note being struck softly, loudly, with a sharp attack, etc.). Additional samples emulate sympathetic resonance of the strings when the sustain pedal is depressed, key release, the drop of the dampers, and simulations of techniques such as re-pedalling. Digital, MIDI-equipped, pianos can output a stream of MIDI data, or record and play via a CD ROM or USB flash drive using MIDI format files, similar in concept to a pianola. The MIDI file records the physics of a note rather than its resulting sound and recreates the sounds from its physical properties (e.g., which note was struck and with what velocity). Computer based software, such as Modartt's 2006 Pianoteq, can be used to manipulate the MIDI stream in real time or subsequently to edit it. This type of software may use no samples but synthesize a sound based on aspects of the physics that went into the creation of a played note.


Hybrid instruments

In the 2000s, some pianos include an acoustic grand piano or upright piano combined with MIDI electronic features. Such a piano can be played acoustically, or the keyboard can be used as a MIDI controller, which can trigger a synthesizer module or music sampler. Some electronic feature-equipped pianos such as the Yamaha Disklavier electronic player piano, introduced in 1987, are outfitted with electronic sensors for recording and electromechanical solenoids for player piano-style playback. Sensors record the movements of the keys, hammers, and pedals during a performance, and the system saves the performance data as a Standard MIDI File (SMF). On playback, the solenoids move the keys and pedals and thus reproduce the original performance. Modern Disklaviers typically include an array of electronic features, such as a built-in tone generator for playing back MIDI accompaniment tracks, speakers, MIDI connectivity that supports communication with computing devices and external MIDI instruments, additional ports for audio and SMPTE input/output (I/O), and Internet connectivity. Disklaviers have been manufactured in the form of upright, baby grand, and grand piano styles (including a nine-foot concert grand). Reproducing systems have ranged from relatively simple, playback-only models to professional models that can record performance data at resolutions that exceed the limits of normal MIDI data. The unit mounted under the keyboard of the piano can play MIDI or audio software on its CD.


Construction and components

Pianos can have over 12,000 individual parts, supporting six functional features: keyboard, hammers, dampers, bridge, soundboard, and strings. Many parts of a piano are made of materials selected for strength and longevity. This is especially true of the outer rim. It is most commonly made of hardwood, typically Maple#Timber, hard maple or beech, and its massiveness serves as an essentially immobile object from which the flexible soundboard can best vibrate. According to Harold A. Conklin, the purpose of a sturdy rim is so that, "... the vibrational energy will stay as much as possible in the soundboard instead of dissipating uselessly in the case parts, which are inefficient radiators of sound." Hardwood rims are commonly made by laminating thin, hence flexible, strips of hardwood, bending them to the desired shape immediately after the application of glue. The bent plywood system was developed by C.F. Theodore Steinway in 1880 to reduce manufacturing time and costs. Previously, the rim was constructed from several pieces of solid wood, joined and veneered, and European makers used this method well into the 20th century. A modern exception,
Bösendorfer Bösendorfer (L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH) is an Austrian piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt ...

Bösendorfer
, the Austrian manufacturer of high-quality pianos, constructs their inner rims from solid spruce, the same wood that the soundboard is made from, which is notched to allow it to bend; rather than isolating the rim from vibration, their "resonance case principle" allows the framework to resonate more freely with the soundboard, creating additional coloration and complexity of the overall sound. The thick wooden posts on the underside (grands) or back (uprights) of the piano stabilize the rim structure, and are made of softwood for stability. The requirement of structural strength, fulfilled by stout hardwood and thick metal, makes a piano heavy. Even a small upright can weigh , and the
Steinway Steinway & Sons, also known as Steinway, () is a German-American piano The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain), in which the strings ...
concert grand (Model D) weighs . The largest piano available on the general market, the Fazioli F308, weighs ."Fazioli, Paolo"
''Grove Music Online'', 2009. Accessed 12 April 2009.
"Model F308"
, ''Official Fazioli Website''. Accessed 6 March 2015.
The pinblock, which holds the tuning pins in place, is another area where toughness is important. It is made of hardwood (typically hard maple or beech), and is laminated for strength, stability and longevity. Piano strings (also called
piano wire Piano wire, or "music wire", is a specialized type of wire A wire is a single usually cylindrical, flexible strand or rod of metal. Wires are used to bear mechanical loads or electricity Electricity is the set of physical phenomen ...
), which must endure years of extreme tension and hard blows, are made of high carbon steel. They are manufactured to vary as little as possible in diameter, since all deviations from uniformity introduce tonal distortion. The bass strings of a piano are made of a steel core wrapped with copper wire, to increase their mass whilst retaining flexibility. If all strings throughout the piano's compass were individual (monochord), the massive bass strings would overpower the upper ranges. Makers compensate for this with the use of double (bichord) strings in the tenor and triple (trichord) strings throughout the treble. The plate (harp), or metal frame, of a piano is usually made of
cast iron Cast iron is a group of iron-carbon alloys with a carbon content more than 2%. Its usefulness derives from its relatively low melting temperature. The alloy constituents affect its colour when fractured: white cast iron has carbide impuritie ...
. A massive plate is advantageous. Since the strings vibrate from the plate at both ends, an insufficiently massive plate would absorb too much of the vibrational energy that should go through the bridge to the soundboard. While some manufacturers use cast steel in their plates, most prefer cast iron. Cast iron is easy to cast and machine, has flexibility sufficient for piano use, is much more resistant to deformation than steel, and is especially tolerant of compression. Plate casting is an art, since dimensions are crucial and the iron shrinks about one percent during cooling. Including an extremely large piece of metal in a piano is potentially an aesthetic handicap. Piano makers overcome this by polishing, painting, and decorating the plate. Plates often include the manufacturer's ornamental medallion. In an effort to make pianos lighter, Alcoa worked with Winter and Company piano manufacturers to make pianos using an aluminum piano plate, aluminum plate during the 1940s. Aluminum piano plates were not widely accepted, and were discontinued. The numerous parts of a piano action are generally made from hardwood, such as maple, beech, and hornbeam; however, since World War II, makers have also incorporated plastics. Early plastics used in some pianos in the late 1940s and 1950s, proved disastrous when they lost strength after a few decades of use. Beginning in 1961, the New York (state), New York branch of the Steinway firm incorporated polytetrafluoroethylene, Teflon, a synthetic material developed by DuPont, for some parts of its Permafree grand action in place of cloth bushings, but abandoned the experiment in 1982 due to excessive friction and a "clicking" that developed over time; Teflon is "humidity stable" whereas the wood adjacent to the Teflon swells and shrinks with humidity changes, causing problems. More recently, the Kawai (company), Kawai firm built pianos with action parts made of more modern materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic, and the piano parts manufacturer Wessell, Nickel and Gross has launched a new line of carefully engineered composite parts. Thus far these parts have performed reasonably, but it will take decades to know if they equal the longevity of wood. In all but the lowest quality pianos the soundboard is made of solid spruce (that is, spruce boards glued together along the side grain). Spruce's high ratio of strength to weight minimizes acoustic impedance while offering strength sufficient to withstand the downward force of the strings. The best piano makers use quarter-sawn, defect-free spruce of close annular grain, carefully seasoning it over a long period before fabricating the soundboards. This is the identical material that is used in quality acoustic guitar soundboards. Cheap pianos often have plywood soundboards. The design of the piano hammers requires having the hammer felt be soft enough so that it will not create loud, very high harmonics that a hard hammer will cause. The hammer must be lightweight enough to move swiftly when a key is pressed; yet at the same time, it must be strong enough so that it can hit strings hard when the player strikes the keys forcefully for fortissimo playing or sforzando (musical direction), sforzando accents.


Keyboard

In the early years of piano construction, keys were commonly made from sugar pine. In the 2010s, they are usually made of spruce or basswood. Spruce is typically used in high-quality pianos. Black keys were traditionally made of ebony, and the white keys were covered with strips of ivory. However, since ivory-yielding species are now endangered and protected by treaty, or are illegal in some countries, makers use plastics almost exclusively. Also, ivory tends to chip more easily than plastic. Legal ivory can still be obtained in limited quantities. Yamaha Corporation, Yamaha developed a plastic called ''Ivorite'' intended to mimic the look and feel of ivory; other manufacturers have done likewise. Almost every modern piano has 52 white keys and 36 black keys for a total of 88 keys (seven
octave In music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its associated co ...

octave
s plus a minor third, from A0 to C8). Many older pianos only have 85 keys (seven octaves from A0 to A7). Some piano manufacturers have extended the range further in one or both directions. For example, the Imperial Bösendorfer has nine extra keys at the bass end, giving a total of 97 keys and an eight octave range. These extra keys are sometimes hidden under a small hinged lid that can cover the keys to prevent visual disorientation for pianists unfamiliar with the extra keys, or the colours of the extra white keys are reversed (black instead of white). More recently, Australian manufacturer Stuart & Sons created a piano with 108 keys, going from C0 to B8, covering nine full octaves. The extra keys are the same as the other keys in appearance. The extra keys are added primarily for increased resonance from the associated strings; that is, they vibrate sympathetically with other strings whenever the damper pedal is depressed and thus give a fuller tone. Only a very small number of works composed for piano actually use these notes. Toy piano company Schoenhut Piano Company, Schoenhut manufactures grands and uprights with only 44 or 49 keys and a shorter distance between the keyboard and the pedals. These are true pianos with working mechanisms and strings. A rare variant of the piano called the ''Emánuel Moór Pianoforte'' has double keyboards, one lying above the other. It was invented by Hungarian composer and pianist, Emánuel Moór (19 February 1863 – 20 October 1931). The lower keyboard has the usual 88 keys, whilst the upper keyboard has 76 keys. When the upper keyboard is played, an internal mechanism pulls down the corresponding key on the lower keyboard, but an octave higher. This lets a pianist reach two octaves with one hand, impossible on a conventional piano. Due to its double keyboard, musical works that were originally created for double-manual harpsichord, such as the ''Goldberg Variations'' by Johann Sebastian Bach, Bach, become much easier to play, since playing on a conventional single keyboard piano involves complex and hand-tangling cross-hand movements. The design also features a special fourth pedal that couples the lower and upper keyboard, so when playing on the lower keyboard the note one octave higher also plays. Only about 60 Emánuel Moór Pianofortes were made, mostly by
Bösendorfer Bösendorfer (L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH) is an Austrian piano The piano is an acoustic Acoustic may refer to: Music Albums * Acoustic (Bayside EP), ''Acoustic'' (Bayside EP) * Acoustic (Britt Nicole EP), ''Acoustic'' (Britt ...

Bösendorfer
. Other piano manufacturers, such as C. Bechstein Pianofortefabrik, Bechstein, Chickering, and Steinway & Sons, also manufactured a few. Pianos have been built with alternative keyboard systems, e.g., the Jankó keyboard.


Pedals

Pianos have had pedals, or some close equivalent, since the earliest days. (In the 18th century, some pianos used levers pressed upward by the player's knee instead of pedals.) Most grand pianos in the US have three pedals: the soft pedal (una corda), sostenuto, and
sustain pedal A sustain pedal or sustaining pedal (also called damper pedal, loud pedal, or open pedal) is the most commonly used pedal A pedal (from the Latin '' pes'' ''pedis'', "foot") is a lever A lever ( or ) is a simple machine consisting of a b ...
(from left to right, respectively), while in Europe, the standard is two pedals: the soft pedal and the sustain pedal. Most modern upright pianos also have three pedals: soft pedal, practice pedal and sustain pedal, though older or cheaper models may lack the practice pedal. In Europe the standard for upright pianos is two pedals: the soft and the sustain pedals. The sustain pedal (or, damper pedal) is often simply called "the pedal", since it is the most frequently used. It is placed as the rightmost pedal in the group. It lifts the dampers from all keys, sustaining all played notes. In addition, it alters the overall tone by allowing all strings, including those not directly played, to reverberate. When all of the other strings on the piano can vibrate, this allows sympathetic vibration of strings that are harmonically related to the sounded pitches. For example, if the pianist plays the 440 Hz "A" note, the higher octave "A" notes will also sound sympathetically. The soft pedal or ''una corda'' pedal is placed leftmost in the row of pedals. In grand pianos it shifts the entire action/keyboard assembly to the right (a very few instruments have shifted left) so that the hammers hit two of the three strings for each note. In the earliest pianos whose unisons were bichords rather than trichords, the action shifted so that hammers hit a single string, hence the name ''una corda'', or 'one string'. The effect is to soften the note as well as change the tone. In uprights this action is not possible; instead the pedal moves the hammers closer to the strings, allowing the hammers to strike with less kinetic energy. This produces a slightly softer sound, but no change in timbre. On grand pianos, the middle pedal is a sostenuto pedal. This pedal keeps raised any damper already raised at the moment the pedal is depressed. This makes it possible to sustain selected notes (by depressing the sostenuto pedal before those notes are released) while the player's hands are free to play additional notes (which don't sustain). This can be useful for musical passages with low bass pedal points, in which a bass note is sustained while a series of chords changes over top of it, and other otherwise tricky parts. On many upright pianos, the middle pedal is called the "practice" or ''celeste'' pedal. This drops a piece of felt between the hammers and strings, greatly muting the sounds. This pedal can be shifted while depressed, into a "locking" position. There are also non-standard variants. On some pianos (grands and verticals), the middle pedal can be a bass sustain pedal: that is, when it is depressed, the dampers lift off the strings only in the bass section. Players use this pedal to sustain a single bass note or chord over many measures, while playing the melody in the treble section. The rare transposing piano (an example of which was owned by Irving Berlin) has a middle pedal that functions as a clutch that disengages the keyboard from the mechanism, so the player can move the keyboard to the left or right with a lever. This shifts the entire piano action so the pianist can play music written in one key so that it sounds in a different key. Some piano companies have included extra pedals other than the standard two or three. On the Stuart & Sons, Stuart and Sons pianos as well as the largest Fazioli piano, there is a fourth pedal to the left of the principal three. This fourth pedal works in the same way as the soft pedal of an upright piano, moving the hammers closer to the strings. The Crown and Schubert Piano Company also produced a four-pedal piano. Wing and Son of New York offered a five-pedal piano from approximately 1893 through the 1920s. There is no mention of the company past the 1930s. Labeled left to right, the pedals are Mandolin, Orchestra, Expression, Soft, and Forte (Sustain). The Orchestral pedal produced a sound similar to a tremolo feel by bouncing a set of small beads dangling against the strings, enabling the piano to mimic a mandolin, guitar, banjo, zither and harp, thus the name Orchestral. The Mandolin pedal used a similar approach, lowering a set of felt strips with metal rings in between the hammers and the strings (aka rinky-tink effect). This extended the life of the hammers when the Orch pedal was used, a good idea for practicing, and created an echo-like sound that mimicked playing in an orchestral hall. The ''pedalier'' piano, or pedal piano, is a rare type of piano that includes a Pedal keyboard, pedalboard so players can use their feet to play bass register notes, as on an pipe organ, organ. There are two types of pedal piano. On one, the pedal board is an integral part of the instrument, using the same strings and mechanism as the manual keyboard. The other, rarer type, consists of two independent pianos (each with separate mechanics and strings) placed one above the other—one for the hands and one for the feet. This was developed primarily as a practice instrument for organists, though there is a small repertoire written specifically for the instrument.


Mechanics

When the key is struck, a chain reaction occurs to produce the sound. First, the key raises the "wippen" mechanism, which forces the jack against the hammer roller (or ''knuckle''). The hammer roller then lifts the lever carrying the hammer. The key also raises the damper; and immediately after the hammer strikes the wire it falls back, allowing the wire to resonate and thus produce sound. When the key is released the damper falls back onto the strings, stopping the wire from vibrating, and thus stopping the sound. The vibrating piano strings themselves are not very loud, but their vibrations are transmitted to a large soundboard that moves air and thus converts the energy to sound. The irregular shape and off-center placement of the bridge ensure that the soundboard vibrates strongly at all frequencies. The raised damper allows the note to sound until the key (or sustain pedal) is released. There are three factors that influence the pitch of a vibrating wire. * Length: All other factors the same, the shorter the wire, the higher the pitch. * Mass per unit length: All other factors the same, the thinner the wire, the higher the pitch. * Tension: All other factors the same, the tighter the wire, the higher the pitch. A vibrating wire subdivides itself into many parts vibrating at the same time. Each part produces a pitch of its own, called a partial. A vibrating string has one fundamental and a series of partials. The purest combination of two pitches is when one is double the frequency of the other. For a repeating wave, the velocity equals the wavelength times the frequency , : On the piano string, waves reflect from both ends. The superposition principle, superposition of reflecting waves results in a standing wave pattern, but only for wavelengths , where is the length of the string. Therefore, the only frequencies produced on a single string are . Timbre is largely determined by the content of these harmonics. Different instruments have different harmonic content for the same pitch. A real string vibrates at harmonics that are not perfect multiples of the fundamental. This results in a little inharmonicity, which gives richness to the tone but causes significant tuning challenges throughout the compass of the instrument. Striking the piano key with greater velocity increases the amplitude of the waves and therefore the volume. From ''pianissimo'' () to ''fortissimo'' () the hammer velocity changes by almost a factor of a hundred. The hammer contact time with the string shortens from 4 milliseconds at to less than 2 ms at . If two wires adjusted to the same pitch are struck at the same time, the sound produced by one reinforces the other, and a louder combined sound of shorter duration is produced. If one wire vibrates out of synchronization with the other, they subtract from each other and produce a softer tone of longer duration.


Maintenance

Pianos are heavy and powerful, yet delicate instruments. Over the years, professional piano movers have developed special techniques for transporting both grands and uprights, which prevent damage to the case and to the piano's mechanical elements. Pianos need regular tuning to keep them on correct pitch. The hammers of pianos are voiced to compensate for gradual hardening of the felt, and other parts also need periodic regulation. Pianos need regular maintenance to ensure the felt hammers and key mechanisms are functioning properly. Aged and worn pianos can be rebuilt or reconditioned by piano rebuilders. Strings eventually must be replaced. Often, by replacing a great number of their parts, and adjusting them, old instruments can perform as well as new pianos. Piano tuning involves adjusting the tensions of the piano's strings with a specialized wrench, thereby aligning the intervals among their tones so that the instrument is Musical tuning, in tune. While guitar and violin players tune their own instruments, pianists usually hire a Piano tuning, piano tuner, a specialized technician, to tune their pianos. The piano tuner uses special tools. The meaning of the term ''in tune'' in the context of piano tuning is not simply a particular fixed set of Pitch (music), pitches. Fine piano tuning carefully assesses the interaction among all notes of the chromatic scale, different for every piano, and thus requires slightly different pitches from any theoretical standard. Pianos are usually tuned to a modified version of the system called equal temperament (see Piano key frequencies for the theoretical piano tuning). In all systems of tuning, each pitch is derived from its relationship to a chosen fixed pitch, usually the internationally recognized standard concert pitch of A4 (the A above middle C). The term A440 (pitch standard), A440 refers to a widely accepted frequency of this pitch – 440 Hz. The relationship between two pitches, called an Interval (music), interval, is the ratio of their absolute Frequency, frequencies. Two different intervals are perceived as the same when the pairs of pitches involved share the same frequency ratio. The easiest intervals to identify, and the easiest intervals to tune, are those that are Just intonation, just, meaning they have a simple whole-number ratio. The term ''Musical temperament, temperament'' refers to a tuning system that tempers the Just intonation, just intervals (usually the perfect fifth, which has the ratio 3:2) to satisfy another mathematical property; in equal temperament, a fifth is tempered by narrowing it slightly, achieved by flattening its upper pitch slightly, or raising its lower pitch slightly. A temperament system is also known as a set of "bearings". Tempering an interval causes it to Beat (acoustics), beat, which is a fluctuation in perceived sound intensity due to interference between close (but unequal) pitches. The rate of beating is equal to the frequency differences of any harmonics that are present for both pitches and that coincide or nearly coincide. Piano tuners have to use their ear to "Stretched tuning, stretch" the tuning of a piano to make it sound in tune. This involves tuning the highest-pitched strings slightly higher and the lowest-pitched strings slightly lower than what a mathematical frequency table (in which octaves are derived by doubling the frequency) would suggest.


Playing and technique

As with any other musical instrument, the piano may be played from Musical notation, written music, Play by ear (music), by ear, or through Musical improvisation, improvisation. While some folk and blues pianists were Autodidact, self-taught, in Classical and jazz, there are well-established piano teaching systems and institutions, including pre-college graded examinations, university, college and music conservatory diplomas and degrees, ranging from the B.Mus. and M.Mus. to the Doctor of Musical Arts in piano. Piano technique evolved during the transition from harpsichord and clavichord to fortepiano playing, and continued through the development of the modern piano. Changes in musical styles and audience preferences over the 19th and 20th century, as well as the emergence of virtuoso performers, contributed to this evolution and to the growth of distinct approaches or schools of piano playing. Although technique is often viewed as only the physical execution of a musical idea, many pedagogues and performers stress the interrelatedness of the physical and mental or emotional aspects of piano playing. Well-known approaches to piano technique include those by Dorothy Taubman, Edna Golandsky, Fred Karpoff, Charles-Louis Hanon and Otto Ortmann.


Performance styles

Many classical music composers, including Joseph Haydn, Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven, Beethoven, composed for the fortepiano, a rather different instrument than the modern piano. Even composers of the Romantic movement, like
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, Clara Schumann, Clara and Robert Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn, Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, and Johannes Brahms, wrote for pianos substantially different from 2010-era modern pianos. Contemporary musicians may Piano history and musical performance, adjust their interpretation of historical compositions from the 1600s to the 1800s to account for sound quality differences between old and new instruments or to changing performance practice. Starting in Beethoven's later career, the fortepiano evolved into an instrument more like the modern piano of the 2000s. Modern pianos were in wide use by the late 19th century. They featured an octave range larger than the earlier fortepiano instrument, adding around 30 more keys to the instrument, which extended the deep bass range and the high treble range. Factory mass production of upright pianos made them more affordable for a larger number of middle-class people. They appeared in music halls and pubs during the 19th century, providing entertainment through a piano soloist, or in combination with a small dance band. Just as harpsichordists had accompanied singers or dancers performing on stage, or playing for dances, pianists took up this role in the late 1700s and in the following centuries. During the 19th century, American musicians playing for working-class audiences in small pubs and bars, particularly :African-American composers, African-American composers, developed new musical genres based on the modern piano. Ragtime music, popularized by composers such as Scott Joplin, reached a broader audience by 1900. The popularity of ragtime music was quickly succeeded by Jazz piano. New techniques and rhythms were invented for the piano, including ostinato for boogie-woogie, and Shearing voicing. George Gershwin's ''Rhapsody in Blue'' broke new musical ground by combining American jazz piano with symphonic sounds. Comping (jazz), Comping, a technique for accompanying jazz vocalists on piano, was exemplified by Duke Ellington's technique. Honky-tonk music, featuring yet another style of piano rhythm, became popular during the same era. Bebop techniques grew out of jazz, with leading composer-pianists such as Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. In the late 20th century, Bill Evans composed pieces combining classical techniques with his jazz experimentation. In the 1970s, Herbie Hancock was one of the first jazz composer-pianists to find mainstream popularity working with newer urban music techniques such as jazz-funk and jazz-rock. Pianos have also been used prominently in rock and roll and rock music by performers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Elton John, Ben Folds, Billy Joel, Nicky Hopkins, and Tori Amos, to name a few. Modernism, Modernist styles of music have also appealed to composers writing for the modern grand piano, including John Cage and Philip Glass.


Role

The piano is a crucial instrument in Western European classical music, classical music,
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, blues, rock music, rock, folk music, and many other Western musical genres. Pianos are used in soloing or melodic roles and as accompaniment instruments. As well, pianos can be played alone, with a voice or other instrument, in small groups (bands and chamber music ensembles) and large ensembles (big band or orchestra). A large number of composers and songwriters are proficient pianists because the piano keyboard offers an effective means of experimenting with complex melodic and harmonic interplay of chords and trying out polyphony, multiple, independent melody lines that are played at the same time. Pianos are used by composers doing Film music, film and television scoring, as the large range permits composers to try out melodies and bass lines, even if the music will be orchestrated for other instruments. Bandleaders and choir conductors often learn the piano, as it is an excellent instrument for learning new pieces and songs to lead in performance. Many conducting, conductors are trained in piano, because it allows them to play parts of the symphonies they are conducting (using a piano reduction or doing a reduction from the full score), so that they can develop their interpretation. The piano is an essential tool in music education in elementary and secondary schools, and universities and colleges. Most music classrooms and many practice rooms have a piano. Pianos are used to help teach music theory, music history and music appreciation classes, and even non-pianist music professors or instructors may have a piano in their office.


See also

* * * * * * List of classical pianists * List of films about pianists * List of piano manufacturers * List of piano brand names * List of piano makers * List of piano composers


Notes


References

* * * Gives the basics of how pianos work, and a thorough evaluative survey of current pianos and their manufacturers. It also includes advice on buying and owning pianos. * is a standard reference on the history of the piano. * is an authoritative work covering the ancestry of the piano, its invention by Cristofori, and the early stages of its subsequent evolution. * contains a wealth of information. Main article: Edwin M. Ripin, Stewart Pollens, Philip R. Belt, Maribel Meisel, Alfons Huber, Michael Cole, Gert Hecher, Beryl Kenyon de Pascual, Cynthia Adams Hoover, Cyril Ehrlich, Edwin M. Good, Robert Winter, and J. Bradford Robinson. "Pianoforte".


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * *


External links


History of the Piano Forte
Association of Blind Piano Tuners, UK

* [http://www.frederickcollection.org/collection.html The Frederick Historical Piano Collection]
The Pianofortes of Bartolomeo Cristofori, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art


*
The Piano in Polish Collections
' (historical instruments) {{Authority control Piano, Articles containing video clips Chordophones Compositions for piano, Italian inventions Keyboard instruments Percussion instruments Blues instruments Folk music instruments Rock music instruments Rockabilly instruments Classical music instruments Rhythm section C instruments 17th-century inventions 18th-century introductions Italian musical instruments Jazz instruments String instruments