The PIANO is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain), in which the strings are struck by hammers. It is played using a 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. 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 gravicembalo col piano e forte and fortepiano . 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 first fortepianos in the 1700s had a quieter sound and smaller dynamic range.
An acoustic piano usually has a protective wooden case surrounding the soundboard and metal strings , which are strung under great tension on a heavy metal frame. Pressing one or more keys on the piano's keyboard causes a padded 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 . These vibrations are transmitted through a bridge to a soundboard that amplifies by more efficiently coupling 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 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 and harpsichord , two major keyboard instruments widely used before the piano, the piano allows gradations of volume and tone according to how forcefully 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 of the 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"), going from the deepest bass range to the highest treble. 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). Most notes have three strings, except for the bass that 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 rather than as a stringed instrument, because the strings are struck rather than plucked (as with a harpsichord or spinet ); in the Hornbostel-Sachs system of instrument classification, pianos are considered chordophones . There are two main types of piano: the grand piano and the upright piano . The grand piano is used for Classical solos, chamber music and art song and it is often used in jazz and pop concerts. The upright piano, which is more compact, is the most popular type, as they are a better size for use in private homes for domestic music-making and practice.
During the 1800s, influenced by the musical trends of the Romantic music era , innovations such as the cast iron frame (which allowed much greater string tensions) and aliquot stringing gave grand pianos a more powerful sound, with a longer sustain 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 , they could hear it by having a family member play it on the piano. During the nineteenth century, music publishers produced many musical works 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 , jazz , traditional and popular music for solo and ensemble performances, accompaniment, and for composing , songwriting 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 ), its musical versatility (i.e., its wide pitch range, ability to play chords with up to 10 notes, louder or softer notes and two or more independent musical lines at the same time ), the large number of musicians and amateurs 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. With technological advances , amplified electric pianos (1929), electronic pianos (1970s), and digital pianos (1980s) have also been developed. The electric piano became a popular instrument in the 1960s and 1970s genres of jazz fusion , funk music and rock music .
* 1 History
* 1.1 Invention * 1.2 Early fortepiano * 1.3 Modern piano * 1.4 Variations in shape and design
* 2 Types
* 2.1 Grand * 2.2 Upright (vertical) * 2.3 Specialized * 2.4 Electric, electronic, and digital * 2.5 Hybrid instruments
* 3 Construction and components
* 3.1 Keyboard * 3.2 Pedals
* 4 Mechanics * 5 Maintenance
* 6 Playing and technique
* 6.1 Performance styles
* 7 Role * 8 See also * 9 Notes * 10 References * 11 Further reading * 12 External links
While the clavichord allowed expressive control of volume and sustain, it was too quiet for large performances in big halls. The harpsichord produced a sufficiently loud sound, especially when a coupler was used to sound both manuals of a two-manual harpsichord, but it offered no dynamic or accent-based expressive control over each note. A harpsichord could not produce a variety of dynamic levels from the same keyboard during a musical passage (although a harpischord with two manuals could be used to alternate between two different stops (settings on the harpsichord which determined which set of strings are sounded), which could include a louder stop and a quieter stop). The piano offered the best features of both instruments, combining the ability to play loudly and perform sharp accents, which enabled the piano to project more during piano concertos and play in larger venues, with dynamic control that permitted a range of dynamics, including soft, quiet playing.
Cristofori's great success was solving, with no known prior example, the fundamental mechanical problem of 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 this would damp the sound and stop the string from vibrating and making sound. This means that after striking the string, the hammer must be lifted or raised off the strings. Moreover, the hammer must return to its rest position without bouncing violently, and it must return to a position in which it is ready to play almost immediately after its key is depressed so the player can repeat the same note rapidly. Cristofori's piano action 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 comparison to the clavichord—the only previous keyboard instrument capable of dynamic nuance via the weight or force with which the keyboard is played.
Cristofori's new instrument remained relatively unknown until an Italian writer, 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 the article. One of these builders was Gottfried Silbermann , better known as an organ builder. Silbermann's pianos were virtually direct copies of Cristofori's, with one important addition: Silbermann invented the forerunner of the modern sustain pedal , which lifts all the dampers from the strings simultaneously. This allows the pianist to sustain the notes that they have depressed even after their fingers are no longer pressing down the keys. This innovation enabled pianists to, for example, play a loud chord with both hands in the lower register of the instrument, sustain the chord with the sustain pedal, and then, with the chord continuing to sound, relocate their hands to a different register of the keyboard in preparation for a subsequent section.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Piano-making flourished during the late 18th century in the Viennese
school , which included
Johann Andreas Stein (who worked in
Comparison of piano sound 19th century piano sound Frédéric Chopin 's Étude Op. 25, No. 12 , on an Erard piano made in 1851 ------------------------- Modern piano sound The same piece, on a modern piano -------------------------
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For more details on this topic, see Innovations in the piano .
In the period from about 1790 to 1860, the Mozart-era piano underwent
tremendous changes that led to the modern form 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
Early technological progress in the late 1700s owed much to the firm
of Broadwood .
John Broadwood joined with another Scot, Robert
Stodart, and a Dutchman,
Americus Backers , to design a piano in the
harpsichord case—the origin of the "grand". They achieved this in
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
By the 1820s, the center of piano innovation had shifted to Paris,
where the Pleyel firm manufactured pianos used by Frédéric Chopin
and the Érard firm manufactured those used by
Franz Liszt . In 1821,
Sébastien Érard invented the double escapement action , 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 , 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 was first
Jean-Henri Pape in 1826, was a more consistent material,
permitting wider dynamic ranges as hammer weights and string tension
increased. The sostenuto pedal (see below ), invented in 1844 by
Jean-Louis Boisselot and copied by the
One innovation that helped create the powerful sound of the modern
piano was the use of a massive, strong, cast iron frame. Also called
the "plate", the iron frame sits atop the soundboard , and serves as
the primary bulwark against the force of string tension that can
exceed 20 tons (180 kilonewtons) in a modern grand. The single piece
cast iron frame was patented in 1825 in
Other important advances included changes to the way the piano is
strung, such as the use of a "choir" of three strings rather than two
for all but the lowest notes, and the implementation of an over-strung
scale, in which the strings are placed in two separate planes, each
with its own bridge height. (This is also called cross-stringing .
Whereas earlier instruments' bass strings were a mere continuation of
a single string plane, over-stringing placed the bass bridge behind
and to the treble side of the tenor bridge area. This crossed the
strings, with the bass strings in the higher plane.) This permitted a
much narrower cabinet at the "nose" end of the piano, and optimized
the transition from unwound tenor strings to the iron or
copper-wrapped 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. Duplex scaling of
Some piano makers developed schemes to enhance the tone of each note.
Julius Blüthner developed
Aliquot stringing in 1893 as well as Pascal
Taskin (1788), and
Collard & Collard (1821). These systems were used
to strengthen the tone of the highest register of notes on the piano,
which up till 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
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 Gottfried Silbermann
or Christian Ernst Friderici on the continent, and
Johannes Zumpe or
Harman Vietor in England, and it was improved by changes first
Guillaume-Lebrecht Petzold in France and Alpheus Babcock
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
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. The term was later revived by many manufacturers for
advertising purposes. "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 Roller "> Steinway
grand piano in the
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. There are many sizes of grand piano. A rough generalization distinguishes the concert grand (between 2.2 and 3 meters ) from the parlor grand or boudoir grand (1.7 to 2.2 meters ) and the smaller baby grand (around 1.5 meters ).
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 frequencies of overtones (known as partials or harmonics ) sound 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 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, not just its octaves. 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 during piano concerto with orchestra. 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.
August Förster upright piano
Upright pianos, also called vertical pianos, are more compact because the frame and strings are vertical. 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 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 are sometimes called upright grand pianos. Some authors classify modern pianos according to their height and to modifications of the action that are necessary to accommodate the height.
* Studio pianos are around 107 to 114 cm (42–45 in) tall. This is the shortest cabinet that can accommodate a full-sized action located above the keyboard. * Console pianos have a compact action (shorter hammers), and are a few inches shorter than studio models. * The top of a spinet model barely rises above the keyboard. The action is located below, operated by vertical wires that are attached to the backs of the keys. * Anything taller than a studio piano is called an upright.
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 CEUS, 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 as 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 'Pianette' model viewed with its original matching stool; the wooden flap at the front of the instrument has been dropped revealing the tuning pins at the front.
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—meaning that long metal rods pulled 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 with 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 either mute the
strings or alter their timbre. A harpsichord -like sound can be
produced by placing or dangling small metal buttons in front of the
hammer. Adding an eraser between the bass strings produces a mellow,
thumpy sound reminiscent of the plucked double bass. Inserting metal
screws or washers can cause the piano to make a jangly sound as these
metal items vibrate against the strings. In 1954 a German company
exhibited a wire-less piano at the Spring Fair in Frankfurt, Germany
that sold for
ELECTRIC, ELECTRONIC, AND DIGITAL
Wurlitzer 210 electric piano
The first electric pianos from the late 1920s used metal strings with
a magnetic pickup , an amplifier and a loudspeaker . The electric
pianos that became most popular in pop and rock music in the 1960s and
1970s, such as the
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 need to 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 practice an electronic piano with headphones to avoid disturbing others.
Digital pianos are also non-acoustic and do not have strings or hammers. They use digital sampling technology to accurately reproduce the acoustic sound of each piano note. They also need to 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 allow a digital piano to be connected 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 pedals but the synthesis software of later models such as the Yamaha Clavinova series synthesised the 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.
MIDI -equipped, pianos can output a stream of
MIDI data, or
record and play via a
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
, 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
CONSTRUCTION AND COMPONENTS
(1) frame (2) lid, front part (3) capo bar (4) damper (5) lid, back part (6) damper mechanism (7) sostenuto rail (8) pedal mechanism, rods (9, 10,11) pedals: right (sustain/damper), middle (sostenuto), left (soft/una-corda) (12) bridge (13) hitch pin (14) frame (15) sound board (16) string
Pianos can have upwards of 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 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." Outer rim of Estonia grand piano during the manufacturing process
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
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 136 kg (300 lb), and the
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
The plate (harp), or metal frame, of a piano is usually made of cast
iron . 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,
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
branch of the
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 accents.
In the early years of piano construction, keys were commonly made
from sugar pine. In the 2010s, they are usually made of spruce or
Almost every modern piano has 52 white keys and 36 black keys for a total of 88 keys (seven octaves 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, manufacturer Stuart 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.
The toy piano manufacturer Schoenhut started manufacturing both grands and uprights with only 44 or 49 keys, and shorter distance between the keyboard and the pedals. These pianos are true pianos with action and strings. The pianos were introduced to their product line in response to numerous requests in favor of it.
There is a rare variant of piano that has double keyboards called the
Emánuel Moór Pianoforte. It was invented by Hungarian composer and
Emánuel Moór (19 February 1863 – 20 October 1931). It
consisted of two keyboards lying one above each other. The lower
keyboard has the usual 88 keys and the upper keyboard has 76 keys.
When pressing the upper keyboard the 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 work that were
originally created for double-manual harpsichord such as Goldberg
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 (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. Notations used for the sustain pedal in sheet music
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 are not sustained). 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. On the Stuart and Sons piano 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. An upright pedal piano by Challen
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. Crown and Schubert
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 pedalboard so players can user their feet to play bass register notes, as on an 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.
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. (See Piano action for a diagram and detailed description of piano parts.) The piano hammer is "thrown" against the strings. This means that once a pianist has pressed or struck a key, and the hammer is set in motion towards the strings, the pressure on the key no longer leads to player controlling the hammer. Of course, the damper keeps the note sounding until the key is released (or the sustain pedal).
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 most pure combination of two pitches is when one is double the frequency of the other.
For a repeating wave, the velocity v equals the wavelength λ times the frequency f, v = λf
On the piano string, waves reflect from both ends. The superposition of reflecting waves results in a standing wave pattern, but only for wavelengths λ = 2L, L, 2L/3, L/2, ... = 2L/n, where L is the length of the string. Therefore, the only frequencies produced on a single string are f = nv/2L. 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 (PP) to fortissimo (FF) the hammer velocity changes by almost a factor of a hundred. The hammer contact time with the string shortens from 4 milliseconds at PP to less than 2 ms at FF. 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.
Main article: Piano 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 need to be replaced. Often, by replacing a great number of their parts, and adjusting them, old instruments can perform as well as new pianos.
The relationship between two pitches, called an interval , is the
ratio of their absolute 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 , meaning they have
a simple whole-number ratio. The term temperament refers to a tuning
system that tempers the 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 , 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.
PLAYING AND TECHNIQUE
A Prague piano player.
As with any other musical instrument, the piano may be played from
written music , by ear , or through improvisation .
Many classical music composers, including Haydn , Mozart , and Beethoven , composed for the fortepiano , a rather different instrument than the modern piano. The fortepiano was a quieter instrument with a narrower dynamic range and a smaller span of octaves. Even composers of the Romantic movement , like Liszt , Chopin , Robert Schumann , Felix Mendelssohn , and Johannes Brahms , wrote for pianos substantially different from 2010-era modern pianos. Contemporary musicians may 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. Birthday party honoring French pianist Maurice Ravel in 1928. From left to right: conductor, Oscar Fried ; singer, Eva Gauthier ; Maurice Ravel (at piano); composer-conductor, Manoah Leide-Tedesco ; and composer George Gershwin .
During the 19th century, American musicians playing for working-class
audiences in small pubs and bars, particularly African-American
composers, developed new musical genres based on the modern piano.
Ragtime music, popularized by composers such as
Pianos have also been used prominently in rock and roll and rock
music by entertainers such as
Jerry Lee Lewis
The piano is a crucial instrument in Western classical music , jazz , blues , rock , folk music , and many other Western musical genres. 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 and trying out multiple, independent melody lines that are played at the same time . Pianos are used in film and television scoring, as the large range permits composers to try out melodies and basslines, even if the music will be orchestrated for other instruments. Bandleaders often learn the piano, as it is an excellent instrument upon which to learn new pieces and songs which one will be leading during a performance. The piano is an essential tool in music education in elementary and secondary schools and universities and colleges. Most music classrooms and practice rooms have a piano. Pianos are used to help teach music theory, music history and music appreciation classes. Many 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.
This "see also " section MAY CONTAIN AN EXCESSIVE NUMBER OF SUGGESTIONS. Please ensure that only the most relevant links are given, that they are not red links , and that any links are not already in this article. (February 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message )
Piano extended technique
* ^ "Definition of "pianoforte"". Retrieved January 26, 2017.
* ^ Pollens (1995, 238)
* ^ Scholes, Percy A.; John Owen Ward (1970). The Oxford Companion
to Music (10th ed.). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp.
* ^ John Kiehl. "Hammer Time".
Wolfram Demonstrations Project .
* ^ David R. Peterson (1994), "Acoustics of the hammered dulcimer,
its history, and recent developments", Journal of the Acoustical
Society of America 95 (5), p. 3002.
* ^ Pollens (1995, Ch.1)
* ^ Erlich, Cyril (1990). The Piano: A History. Oxford University
Press , USA; Revised edition. ISBN 0-19-816171-9 .
* ^ A B C Powers, Wendy (2003). "The Piano: The Pianofortes of
* Dolge, Alfred (1911). Pianos and Their Makers: A Comprehensive
History of the Development of the
* Banowetz, Joseph; Elder, Dean (1985). The pianist's guide to
pedaling. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34494-8 .
* Carhart, Thad (2002) . The
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* Definitions from