Trivial Trivia – Piano

The piano is a very popular musical instrument as it is flexible enough to be used for various styles of music, from classical to jazz.

The first piano was invented in 1700 by Bartolomeo Cristofori, an Italian harpsichord maker. The word ‘piano’ derives from the Italian word ‘pianoforte’ which means ‘loud and soft’, named appropriately because the piano of today gives musicians the ability to control the volume and the length of notes for greater expression when playing.

There are two types of piano: the upright piano, and the grand piano. Photo credits to Steinway, considered the maker of the finest pianos.

Steinway - GP 215 Performance Edition II

Seen mostly in the classiest of spaces, the grand piano’s design is such to accommodate the long strings and to aid the mechanics of the piano. The action of the grand piano allows notes to be played faster as compared to the upright piano.

Steinway - UP-132E Performance Edition

A likelier choice for the space-conscious, the upright piano has its strings and main frame sit vertically instead of horizontally like for the grand piano.

How does a piano work?

The piano has the properties of both a percussion instrument and a string instrument; pressing the keys causes a hammer to strike (like a percussion instrument) a string inside the piano, which in turn will vibrate and produce a sound (like a string instrument).

All 88 keys on the piano play a different note. Multiple keys can be played simultaneously to create chords and harmonies.

This video shows the mechanics of the various parts that go into playing just a single note on the piano! It is a very complex instrument, with well over 50 parts for each key!

Basically, when you press a key, you cause a small hammer inside the piano to hit string(s) (3 strings for high notes, 2 for lower notes and 1 for very low notes). The string(s) then vibrates and makes a sound that is tuned to a specific note. The vibration of the string(s) is passed onto the soundboard, causing it to resonate and amplify the sound. When you release a key, the damper, usually covered with a felt pad, returns to its place on the string(s) to prevent the keys from vibrating when they are not being played.

This King of Instruments, so-named for its versatility, is often used by composers when writing music. If you’re feeling inspired to pen your original songs, come on down to Bloom School of Music & Arts to start your musical journey on the piano!

Or if you already have a piano and need help with moving or tuning it, you can still give us a call and we will provide the relevant services. Remember to tune your piano at least twice a year!