History of the Piano and Physics

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The history of piano can be dated back to the early eighteenth century. Bartolomeo Cristofori in Padua, Italy originally created it. Cristofori wanted to create an instrument with a broader range of sound than the instruments of his day. The Italian word for piano means “loud and soft” because it allows the user to control the volume of the notes when played. The piano functions because it relies on physics to make sound. The average piano uses 230 feet of steel wire, which are connected to the 88 keys. The length, diameter, and tension of the strings determine the sound and when the keys are pressed down, the strings vibrate. When pressing a key, a hammer drops on the key and creates sound. A damper soon follows after, which stops the sound. According to Newton’s first law, objects at rest will stay at rest unless a force is acted upon it. This is true for the piano, the strings create standing waves when struck and sound is produced by the vibrations in the space around it and as a result converts energy to sound. An upright piano produces sound with waves of high (compressions) and low (rarefactions) pressure. The wavelength and the speed of the wave determine the pitch and frequency of the sound. The amplitude of the wave determines how loud the sound will be. The speed of the wave on a string depends on the tension and mass per unit length. The tighter the string the faster the wave moves along it. The faster the wave speed, the higher its frequency, and the higher the pitch of sound of the note played. In conclusion the piano is a very well thought out instrument, which has many of its elements founded in physics. The amplitude, frequency, wavelength, and the shape of sound waves determine the pitch and volume when notes are played on a piano. The piano is a well-constructed instrument, which provides the listener with an example of the

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