The piano is indeed a blessing for the people who love to listen and more importantly play music. The history of piano dates back to the 15th century with kingdoms flourished on the face of the earth. What we know now as a common instrument has evolved from centuries to become the piece that we use now and obviously it will continue to become more and more efficient in the future.
If you’re just starting out or a more seasoned pianist, you may have wondered about the piano’s development and background. You may be shocked to find that, while the new piano is over 300 years old, its layout and style has stayed virtually unchanged for decades.
Before you make your decision to hire a professional for private piano lessons in Washington DC it is important to understand the evolution of the piano.
Introductory Phase of a Piano
While the piano can be identified as a string instrument especially considering the fact that the notes come from the action of the strings, it may also be counted as a percussion instrument as the hammer hits the strings. It’s similar to a dulcimer in this way.
The dulcimer is an instrument which emerged in the Middle East and expanded to Europe in the 11th century. It features a small vibrating box with strings on top of it. Unlike a guitar, a powerful hammer is used to strike the keys, which is why the dulcimer is deemed a direct ancestor to the guitar.
The piano is often known to be part of the family of keyboards. Past of keyboard instruments goes back a long way and originates from the organ. An organ is an instrument which forces air out of the pipes to produce music. Craftsmen worked on the organ to create an instrument that was a bit similar to the keyboard, the clavichord.
The Clavichord first emerged in the 14th century and became popular in the Renaissance period. Pressing a key will bring a brass spike, called a tangent, to hit a string and induce vibrations that produce sound in a range of four to five octaves.
From Harpsichord to Pianoforte
This beautiful stringed instrument uses percussion to produce a perfect, resonating tone. The Italian harpsichord builder Bartolomeo de Francesco Cristofori (1655-1731) created the very first piano around 1700. Without him, you’d actually take taking harpsichord or organ classes instead of thinking of learning to play the piano.
In reality, Cristofori’s first piano was named a “pianoforte” and borrowed quite a bit of his look and style from the harpsichord — which makes sense because he was a harpsichord builder. Throughout the years, manufacturers have learned to use new fabrics, but the fundamental inner workings have stayed very much the same.
An Insight to the Harpsichord
The harpsichord is nearly identical to the piano. These are both musical instruments with wooden shells, although the harpsichord includes two or three musical sets within the case and two keyboards.
When you operate the harpsichord, you push the key back, allowing the “plectrum” to pluck the strings within the shell. No matter how firmly or gently you click the buttons; the sound you make will be the same.
The Ever-Evolving Pianoforte
In Italian, pianoforte translates to “soft-loud.” The sounds created by Cristofori’s pianoforte were an expansion of what the harpsichord might do. Though close in looks, within the pianoforte was a ton different.
Rather than a plectrum plucking the notes, the pianoforte used a hammer to strike those chords. This permitted the player to power not only the volume and intensity of the sound made but also the length of the sound generated.
The pianoforte was a choice of musicians since they could convey more feeling through the device than through the harpsichord.
Evolution of the Modern Piano
With its maximum seven octaves, the new piano contains 88 keys, made of ivory or acrylic, with wool-covered hammers and cast-iron frames capable of withstanding higher stress levels on the strings. Yet before that, the instrument had a few transitional periods:
Originally built in France in 1777 by Sébastien Érard, the square piano was not square at all. This was simply rectangular, the lines flowing horizontally over the keys. Johann Christoph Zumpe and other German piano makers developed the construction of the square piano, and by the mid-1800s it was widely used to play salon music in Europe.
In the mid-1800s, upright pianos started to overtake square pianos all over the world. The strings of the upright piano flew vertically, opposite to the keys, rendering them very large at first. John Isaac Hawkins, an English piano builder who resided in Philadelphia, developed the upright style by taking the strings down to the floor, instead of beginning from the keys. The piano was designed to look more elegant however, they took more space.
The Grand Piano just by its name recognizes the instrument from the four-and-a-half-foot small grand to the much larger 8-or 11-foot concert grand. The classic look of the grand piano has remained almost unchanged over the years. The strings are moving horizontally, perpendicular to the keys. Prop opens the lid and the grand piano offers unparalleled sound quality that is best suited to concerts and magnificent appearances. In fact, the larger the piano, the longer the strings and the better the timbre or sound level it creates.
The new modern era has put electronics together with the piano to build electric pianos and wireless keyboards. From the first inception in 1946 to the present, these instruments have come a long way. Modern digital pianos are solely electronic devices with high-quality sound captured on an internal hard disk. The keys are also weighted to mimic the sensation of playing a conventional acoustic piano.
If you are deciding to take private piano lessons in Washington DC it is important that you get yourself aware of the wonders of this phenomenal musical instrument and its evolution that has occurred over time.
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