For centuries piano enthusiasts have tickled the ivories. The piano, once known as the pianoforte, is an often integral component of an orchestra and the basis for composing music. There are several different sizes of piano and styles that can fit various spaces.
The pianoforte has its origins in the Tuscany region of Italy. Harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori unveiled his pianoforte in 1709. It had the wooden frame of the harpsichord, but implemented a unique keyboarding mechanism that was similar to that of the clavichord.
Through the years several different innovators fine-tuned the design and functionality of the piano to what it has become today.
The modern piano keyboard is made up of 12 notes that repeat in a black-and-white pattern across 88 wooden keys. Originally there were only seven notes on the piano that repeated, as musicians were still discovering just how many musical notes could be played.
Pianos also have three foot pedals. The pedal on the right is the damper, which causes all the keys to vibrate and sustain. The middle pedal causes only the keys currently pressed to vibrate. The pedal on the left creates a muted sound.
There are two clefs played when operating the piano. On a sheet of music, the treble clef is the top portion of the sheet, also known as the G clef, and is played with the right hand. The bass clef, also known as the F clef, is played by the left hand.
Types of Pianos
There are different types of pianos whether they are vertical or horizontal styles.
Horizontal Pianos: These are the images many people call to mind when envisioning a piano. Horizontal pianos are also called grand pianos because of the placement of their strings. They are also thought to produce finer tones. There are six basic types of horizonal pianos.
1. Petit grand: The smallest of the horizontal at around 4 feet, 5 inches.
2. Baby grand: One of the most popular of the grand pianos because of its modest size and affordability.
3. Medium grand: Slightly larger than the baby grand, coming in at around 5 feet, 7 inches.
4. Parlor grand: This piano is also known as the living room grand piano and is about 6 feet.
5. Ballroom: Between 6 and 7 feet long.
6. Concert grand: The largest of all the grand pianos is the concert grand, coming in around 9 feet.
Vertical Pianos: These vertical pianos are taller than grand pianos. There are four different types.
1. Spinet: Spinets are the smallest of the pianos. They are ideal for individuals with limited living spaces. However, spinets may be less accurate in the notes and have less power due to their diminutive size.
2. Console: At 40 to 43 inches high, this piano is very popular because it comes in different styles and finishes for complementary decorating.
3. Studio: A larger soundboard and longer strings help this piano to produce good tone quality. It is the piano most commonly found in music studios.
4. Upright: The tallest of the vertical pianos, this model ranges from 50 to 60 inches in height. This is one of the classical vertical pianos.
Pianos have withstood the test of time as an important component of historical and modern music. From classical composers to today's musicians, the piano has been one of the most important resources in musical creation.
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