The History of the Piano Essay

810 WordsDec 16, 20134 Pages
In the early 1700s, a new modification to a classic favorite, the harpsichord, changed the world of music across all genres. In 1709 a new instrument, classy and sophisticated, yet loud and dynamic was brought into the world by Bartolomeo Cristofori. The piano has continued a well loved legacy of many instruments predating it, while changing its mechanics significantly. The mechanics of the piano consist of three main components. They are: a stretched string made from high-carbon steel, a keyboard, and a blow. The strings are the component that produces the sound, the keyboard is used for manipulating the strings and the blow is the process of hammers striking the strings and causing them to vibrate (C. A. Browne). This process creates the sound. Most of these mechanics are hidden beneath a lid that can be propped up at different levels. How many levels differs with the makers. It can also be closed entirely. The keyboard, however, is hidden within it’s own small lid. Many could mistake a number of the stringed instruments, those that predated the piano, for the piano. The spinet, virginal, and clavichord -not to mention the harpsichord- could all be nick named as ‘odd looking pianos’ by those with the untrained eye, although their internal parts are quite different. Instead of having hammers strike the strings, the harpsichord has jacks -long strips of wood- with a plectrum -a wedge shaped piece of quill or, the more recent material, plastic- that twanged, plucked, the strings. This design causes the harpsichordist to have little to no control over the volume of the instrument. A pianist may control whether their instrument is played piano -soft- or forte -loud- by pressing the keys either harder or softer. The harpsichord is also typically smaller as there are only five sets of octaves, a series of eight notes between two notes, whereas the piano has seven. Not

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