Do you want to know the history of piano? Do you know how does it work? What are the main parts of a piano? If you wants to know all these answer, you are in right place. In this article author has tried to bring some interesting facts about this beautiful instrument called “Piano”.
The cultures of playing Piano in western countries are not new, after all this beautiful instrument was invented there only. In India it is still a luxurious musical instrument to buy however the interest and attraction towards this instrument is increasing day by day. Interestingly, whenever we think of Piano, the image of a ‘big curved shape musical instrument with its lid open’ comes in our mind which is called a Grand Piano. We imagine this shape because in most of the movie or concert we have seen grand piano playing by an artist but it comes in different shapes and sizes, different colors and from very expensive to economical range. If you research, you will find that there many more brands of Piano are available in the market. This amazing instrument is called the king of musical instrument simply because of its rich tonal quality and capacity to produce as both melody and accompaniment purpose. The dynamics you get while playing or listening to it is a world known fact.
History of Piano:
The history of piano is more than 300 years old and the researches say that first acoustic piano was made in 1700 by an Italian called Mr. Batolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731). It was the first piano which can be played with dynamics in other meaning; it can be played both softer and louder. Initially this instrument was called “Piano et forte”, Piano means soft and forte means louder but as time passed it become popular in the name of Piano.
Let’s go 300 years back and find some more interesting fact about other musical instruments. Before piano there were two strings instrument Harpsichord and Clavichord which were very popular among musicians. The origin of a piano actually came from Harpsichord. Both Piano and Harpsichord is a string instrument but in Harpsichord the string gets plucked by quill to get sound wherein a piano strings get hit by felt hammers. To get the better dynamics and feelings, piano was invented from the Harpsichord. Since then the making of piano developed and improved bettered with the years of experience and the working skills. The first piano made was a Grand piano but to cover minimum space to keep this instrument between 1730 and 1750, first attempt was made to construct an Upright or Vertical piano. Later in around 1840 the first acoustic upright piano came in this world. Now the acoustic upright piano which we see today is the resemble design of the first upright.
Today the pianos are made with the help of science and technology and are much-much better in tonal quality. The work is still going on improving the action parts to make the best tonal quality piano.
Construction of Piano:
It’s really interesting to know about the construction of a piano. The body of the piano is made with selective quality wood which can adjust the climatic conditions, for strength and longevity. For better understanding I have categorized the main parts which are mentioned below.
Action is the most important part in a piano. There are almost 12000 parts you can find in a piano in which 10000 parts are movable. In action parts itself there are 7500 movable parts are involved. The main parts in a piano action are keys, felt hammers, dampers and small wooden parts. When a piano key is pressed, the hammer strikes on the strings and that’s how we get the natural piano tone. Let’s know how it happens.
Actually, between the key and hammer there are several small wooden parts connected to each other and which work as a series of leavers. When someone play the key, these small parts gets movement and allow the hammer to hit the strings. As long as one keep pressing and hold the key, the sound keep sustain and once you release the key, the hammer come back in its actual position and damper comes forward to touch the string so that sustaining sound gets stop. It all happened so fast and you can only imagine how fast the action parts moves when a player play in faster mode.
An average acoustic piano contains more than 200 strings which are different sizes from left to right side of the key. Strings are two types in a piano one which are made of steel and the other which are steel but with copper winding on it. The copper winding strings are thicker and longer to get bass sound. The question comes here as why copper winding steel strings are use to get bass sound why can’t it get from without copper winding string. The simple answer is that if steel strings get used to get bass sound then the length of the steel string had to be 20 feet just to get same bass sound. Now, you can only imagine if we could have kept such huge piano at home leave alone the cost of it.
The frequencies are different in each string because of its different size. The lower note (the extreme left key) has frequency about 30 and the higher note (extreme right key) has its frequency about 4000 because of its longer and shorter length of the string. Let me describe it more simple way, when I say 30 frequency it means the strings get vibrate 30 time per second in one hit and 4000 frequency means that particular string gets vibrate 4000 time per second.
The soundboard is another most important part in a piano which amplify the sound. It called the ‘heart’ of a piano simply because the more better quality wood get used for soundboard, the better tonal quality will come out from it. Different manufacturers’ uses different wood for the soundboard but it is the spruce wood which is vastly used for piano. The sound always depends on the quality of wood of its soundboard.
In older piano there used to be only two main pedals but all modern pianos comes with three pedals. All three pedals have different uses; the left pedal is called ‘soft pedal’. When you press the left pedal and play, the soft sound get produced from the piano.
The middle pedal is called ‘sostenuto pedal’ or ‘practice pedal’. In grand piano it work two different way (i) If you press and play the piano, only those note will sustain which is played while pressing this pedal other notes will not sustain. (ii) Only the bass notes will sustain if you play while pressing this pedal. In an upright piano it works to mute the sound so that one can practice even late in the evening without disturbing their neighbors.
The right side of the pedal is called ‘damper pedal’ or ‘sustain pedal’. When you press this pedal and play, the sound sustain for the longer period of the time.
Initially piano used to be pure acoustic but later after seeing its growing market, the digital pianos get introduced. The different sizes and more economical pianos are made so that even common people can afford to buy it. Now there are so many technologies available and with this help everyday there are new revolutions coming up in the making of piano. This article is written by thinking of a Grand Piano. There is not much difference in a grand or upright (Vertical) piano other than its design which I will talk with details in my next article.