It’s always a delight to play or listen to a piano. Its soft and soothing sound can attract anyone’s attention towards itself. You can find different types of pianos available in the market. However, do you really know much about a piano? Do you know how it originated and evolved to be the piano you see?
In this article, I’m going to discuss a brief history of the piano so that you know all about piano as you progress with your piano playing skills.
What is a Piano?
The piano as you see it is a very large instrument that normally has about 88 keys which denotes one single tone. It has a wooden case that closes a soundboard containing metal strings; they are struck by small hammers when the keys are pressed against.
The strings stop vibrating when the dampers are released. By two or three pedals they are controlled for volume and length. So, before learning much about a piano let’s study a brief history of piano how it evolved and from where it originated.
Origin of Piano
The piano was not the same as we see today. It went through a lot of evolutions and so eventually different types of pianos emerged. At that time, people classified musical instruments in a different manner. There were three types of instruments based on the sounds they produce. They are categorized as are string instruments, percussion instruments, and wind instruments.
The piano’s heritage can be followed back through different instruments like the clavichord, harpsichord, and dulcimer. However, if it were followed back significantly further, one would track down that the piano is related to monochord. As such, considering its family line the piano can be named a string instrument.
An Italian named Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) invented the piano. Cristofori was not satisfied by the dearth of control that artists did have over the volume level of the harpsichord. He changed the culling component with a sled and made the piano in the early 18th century.
Evolution of the Piano
Since ancient times, the then Greek and Roman people used the harps and lyres to produce music at that time. Within the 14th century, a certain individual got the idea to tap tight strings with a small hammer and produced sound in that manner. That was when the ancestor of the piano, the Dulcimer was invented.
If you follow the next century closely, you’ll get that the nearest archetype. Its name was the harpsichord. It was an unrefined device. Even though it was restricted to a single sound volume, but this very instrument encouraged the inventors to invent the modern piano. Because, if you look at it thoroughly, you’ll see that it could create a very loud sound. And it encouraged others to compose the harpsichord pieces or on the keyboard.
After that, in the early 1700s, a harpsichord manufacturer had the idea to build the piano we see now. At that time, Bartolomeo Cristofori named the piano to be ‘Gravicembalo Col Piano E Specialty’ which literally means “The Calm and Solid Console Instrument’. This name continued further and then shortened only to be called Piano.
Evolution of Different Piano Types
How many types of piano did you see till now? At least 4 or 5? All of these piano types were not like the ones you see today. Each piano type evolved in a definite way. Let’s see how they came to be the ones you know today and how they are on the inside!
The Grand Piano is the largest and the classiest piano you’ll see in the market. You’ll see up to 4 feet of pitch on the horizontal soundboard. An open platform which is raised on the right side surrounds the soundboard in a supportive manner.
On top of the strings, you can see the damper which is just beside the hammer. The internal structure of the piano is made from wood. A small metallic piece of equipment supports the wooden framework inside the piano.
If I say about the case, it’s basically “bottomless”. You can see the support base of the soundboard, which is also made of reinforced wood, technically it is the base.
The keys are composed of either ivory-clad wood or wood that is sometimes pure ivory, depending on the manufacturer and category of the piano. The grand piano has 88 standard keys.
Most of these pianos have a music stand. The retractable cover slides over the key or folds away.
Baby Grand Piano
As the name suggests, the baby grand piano is actually a smaller version of the ordinary grand piano. It has an 88-key setup, just like a large conventional grand, but usually has a smaller soundboard, so it is not as loud as a large conventional grand.
The upright piano is the most common acoustic piano and is a popular accessory in the living room, family room, or hall room. You might prefer the upright piano because of its low price, compact structure, and warm sound.
The soundboard is vertical, the string line runs downward, and the hammers and dampers are horizontal. The hammers will strike horizontally and return to the resting position by the spring, which takes longer than the hammers on a grand piano (vertical and returned by gravity). At the back, you can see the support base for the soundboard and the wooden reinforcement.
Depending on the model, the cost of the column is generally reduced; however, the total value of some products may exceed the total value. Although the upright is often described as inferior to a grand piano, the five-foot upright is comparable to a typical grand piano in terms of sound quality and volume. Like the grand piano, the material of the upright piano is also different.
Also, don’t forget to check my piano buying guide and piano apps article What is The Best Piano Brands in the World – A Complete Buyer’s Guide on 2021 and The 10 Best Piano Learning Apps for Android and iOS and piano Guide: 10 Common Mistakes People Make When Buying a Piano
Electronic pianos are basically the most affordable, they suitable for beginners or players on the go. But they don’t have acoustic properties, the sound of mid-range and high-end instruments improves gradually.
Their quality varies massively, some have hollow keys, and the others try to replicate the feel and heaviness of an acoustic keyboard. Furthermore, the characteristics of acoustic pianos, electronic pianos also have several sounds and settings, such as mouth organ, guitar, strings, chorus, and percussion.
The multiple sounds of some keyboards make it a portable band. Other pianos have limited functions, but this is best for people who are trying to just copy an acoustic original sound and save some money. A real electronic piano (compared to a simple keyboard) has a professional appearance and high-quality materials (mostly composed of plastic), as well as touch-sensitive functions, and sometimes a frame.
Most have pedal connectors and computer interactive functions. They never need fine-tuning and quickly become more and more popular among modern bands. The electronic piano also has the following advantage: it allows users to practice quietly with headphones when they would otherwise disturb others. Some disadvantages include the initial stage of technology and the need for power.
The piano is a very old instrument. From this article, I’m sure you can realize that this piano has been around you since the end of the 17th century. By the 18th century, the westerns got to know about the piano, and it’s been one of the most famous instruments among them till now.
Not everyone could afford a piano back then. Only rich and fancy people like royalty could afford the piano. But a century later – during the 19th century – the piano became affordable to most people. Even though I have explained a brief history of the piano, its history is old but refined. It is still a classic piece of musical instrument and there are thousands of eligible masters teaching it. And not that the pianos have stopped evolving, they are still on their way to evolve more and more.