The Technical History Of The Piano


Piano is a common name for string instruments with hammer action. The ability to play it is a sign of good taste. The image of a diligent, talented musician of the century accompanies every pianist. It can be said that this is an instrument for the elite, although mastering the game on it is an integral part of any musical education.


The study of history helps to better understand the structure and specifics of the works of the past era.



History of the piano

The history of the piano spans more than two centuries. Actually, the first piano was invented simultaneously in America (J. Hawkins at the end of 1800) and Austria (M. Müller at the beginning of 1801). Over time, the developing instrument received pedals. The real form with a cast-iron frame, cross strings, and a multi-level arrangement of dampers developed in the middle of the 19th century.


The most common are "baby grand piano". They have a standard body size of 1400x1200 mm, a range of 7 octaves, a pedal mechanism mounted on the bottom, a vertical console connected to the leg and beam of the piano. Thus, the history of the creation of the piano is almost a hundred years shorter than the era of development of this type of instrument.



Ancestors of the modern instrument

The most ancient representatives of this class are the clavichord and harpsichord. The inventor of these keyboard-plucked instruments that preceded the piano is not known. Originating around the 14th century, they became widespread in Europe in the 16th-18th centuries.


The difference between the harpsichord is an expressive sound. It is obtained thanks to a rod with a feather attached to the end of the key. This device pulls the string, causing the sound. The peculiarity is low melodiousness, which does not allow developing dynamic diversity, necessitating the construction of two keyboards, loud and quiet. Features of the exterior decoration of the harpsichord: elegance and original coloring of the keys. The top keyboard is white, the bottom one is black.


Another forerunner of the piano was the clavichord. Refers to chamber-type instruments. The reeds are replaced by metal plates that do not pull but touch the strings. This determines the melodious sound, makes it possible to perform a dynamically rich work.



The history of the creation of a new instrument and its evolution.

Over time, the art of music has become demanding on the quality of dynamics. Old keyboard instruments were gradually modernized. This is how the piano was born. Its inventor is the Florentine Bartalameo Cristofori. Around 1709, the Italian piano builder placed hammers under the strings. This design was called gravicembalo col piano e forte. In France, a similar innovation was developed by J. Marius in 1716, in Germany by K. G. Schroeter in 1717. Thanks to Erar's invention of the double rehearsal, it was possible to rapidly re-stripe the keys, evoking a more refined and powerful sound. From the end of the 18th century, it confidently replaced the harpsichords and clavichords that were common before. At the same time, peculiar hybrids arose, combining organ, harpsichord and piano mechanisms.


The difference between the new instrument is the presence of metal plates instead of reeds. This affected the sound, allowing you to change the volume. The combination of loud (forte) and quiet (piano) sounds on the same keyboard gave the instrument its name. Piano factories gradually sprang up. 


Thanks to specialized production, the improvement of the instrument began, which firmly took its place in the musical culture of the nineteenth century. Its design has changed several times. Throughout the century, Italian, German, English craftsmen made improvements to the device. A significant contribution was the work of Silbermann, Zumpe, Schroeter, and Stein. Currently, separate traditions of piano production are well established, differing in mechanics. Also, on the basis of the classical instrument, new ones appeared: synthesizers, electronic pianos.



Historic Value

The development of the piano was a turning point in musical history. Thanks to his appearance, the concerts in which he took a leading position have changed. This determined the rapid growth in popularity during the period of classicism and romanticism. A galaxy of composers arose who devoted their work exclusively to this instrument. One of the first to master it was W. A. ​​Mozart, J. Haydn, L. Beethoven, R. Schumann, C. Gounod. Numerous masterpieces of piano music are known. Even pieces not intended for the piano sound much more interesting on it than on other instruments.

Read also: Legendary Rock and Pop Music Piano Players


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