What Is the Piano?
The piano is an extremely popular musical instrument and is the most popular instrument in the world according to some surveys. The piano keyboard is comprised of eighty-six keys, while there are about two hundred notes that can be simultaneously played by using only the fingers and the piano keys. The fingernails of the right hand are thicker than those of the left hand, and so the fingers are preferred for pressing down on the keys. The piano keyboard is usually made of wood. It is also possible to purchase pianos that have been adapted from older models of pianos that were designed in houses during the Renaissance, or during the Baroque period of Italian art and music.
The upright piano differs from the usual upright pianos
in that its key structure is different. The typical upright piano has three rows of strings, where each string has a thin “saddle” connected to the adjacent string by a tiny saddlebill. This “saddle” is referred to as the “cassette.” The strings of the upright piano are tuned in B flat, A major, G major, D major, E minor, and E flat.
The earliest model of the upright piano
dates back to the thirteenth century and was developed by the noted Italian musician and composer, Ludovico Breganelli. The Cristofori instrument was similar to the contemporary cello and had four pedals instead of the more usual two. Two years later, the French violinist, Pierre Ballard, created a similar instrument known as the “vivace piano,” which featured two pedals instead of the usual three. Both instruments were immediately popular among the elite of European society, and their names continue to be synonymous with the instrument to this day. The Cristofori was adopted into the name of the contemporary cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, who wrote beautiful music for the piano.
The next type of piano was the hammock piano
also developed in the late nineteenth century by Italian cellist, ignorant Barbati. The hammock piano was similar to the cello, featuring two hammers on the side instead of the normal three, but the tone was different. The strings of the hammock piano were tuned in G flat, D major, E minor, A flat, and E flat. This unique sound was referred to as “hammerhead” or “Columbus” tone and was adopted by pianists such as Robert Frost and Ludwig Van Beethoven.
The upright piano has evolved from the traditional model
over the past few decades. Many piano manufacturers have created models that feature alternate tuning systems so that different keys can be assigned different pitches. Pianos now come in many shapes and sizes. While larger upright models have fewer strings, they are more comfortable to play because of the larger hammers, and the dense padding of the keys. Smaller upright pianos are often called grand pianos because they are the largest and most expensive upright pianos.
Today, grand pianos are often passed down
through families as an heirloom. Children love playing the grand piano because their parents often play them while taking a stroll around the park or having dinner at a restaurant. A grand piano can play a C major or a D-major chord, and some even include a fifth string to allow for the third and fourth strings. Not all upright pianos feature the G, D, and A notes, which are what most grand pianos use. Barre chords and other chord arrangements are often performed on a grand piano.