Piano in the Theater
One of the most popular musical instruments that delivers the perfect sound associated with classical and jazz music is the piano. This instrument comes with a keyboard, pedals, padded hammers and strings that produce pleasing musical notes when tapping the keys on the keyboard. The piano is actually a keyboard instrument and the musical sounds come from the strings and hammers vibrating when the two come in contact with one another. Our modern day pianos are much different than those of the past. During the 17th century, musicians played on the clavichord and the harpsichord. Mozart's instrument of choice was the harpsichord, which he used in composing and playing concertos.
The first piano was invented and introduced into Europe by Bartolomeo Christofori, in Florence, Italy. This took place in the early 1700s but an exact date is not known. He named his invention the gravecembalo col piano et forte. The musical instrument gained popularity among the societies of the elite throughout Europe, because they were the only ones who could afford the steep price tag or cost of owning a piano personally.
John Behrent, a piano maker, introduced the piano into American societies in the 1770s, seventy years after it had gained popularity in Europe. When it came to playing the piano during the 19th century and earlier, the masters of the piano were always men, because the females were not permitted to play the instrument outside of their homes; regardless of their wealth and status. If you were female and belonged to the middle class you were expected to know how to play the piano. For the American woman, piano lessons were mixed in with daily chores. This is the reason why in the 19th century, middle class women became piano teachers as well as along with being housewives.
- The Piano: A Keynote of Music History – On this page, you will find information on the history of the piano. Information also includes the names of popular pianists.
- Pianos, Ivory and Empire – The American Review takes a look at the piano and the people associated with them. The article also talks about the defining characteristics of the piano, the ebony and ivory keys.
- The Pianofortes of Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731) – The information found on this website talks about the importance of the Piano. Topic includes a background of the inventor, Bartolomeo Cristofori.
- The Rise of the Pianofortes – This article goes into depth on the topic of the piano in 18th century England; showing how it became popular among the upper and middle class.
The piano that we have in the 21st century got its roots from two keyboards that were used as far back as the 1400's, These instruments are the clavichord and the harpsichord. The clavichords were the instrument of choice for home use and have been popular for over 300 years. However, while the clavichord was popular for personal use, the harpsichord was just as popular because it was used in Sunday services, being played with the organ when making music in church. Both instruments have brass strings, but the clavichord uses tangents and the harpsichord uses gills to make their unique sounds and expressions.
Another type of piano from this time period is the Dulcimer, the piano without a keyboard. This instrument also helps give the piano its roots. It's a handheld instrument that you strike with padded hammers. Since it is handheld, you can imagine its unique size in comparison to the clavichord, the harpsichord and today's modern pianos, which are not easily moved because of weight and size.
When it comes to modern pianos; the instruments that stand out are grand and upright pianos, each having their own unique design and configurations. For instance, the grand piano has horizontal framing and strings that extend away from the keyboard. Grand pianos come in different classifications; the baby grand, the concert grand and the grand. The baby grand is a piano used inside the homes, while the concert grand belongs in public arenas. Most pianos today have 88 keys that give a range of tone and sound. However, the harpsichord is a piano with 60 keys and the Clavichord has even less keys to play than the harpsichord.
- Types of Pianos – Information on the different types of pianos and their characteristics such as the keyboard and pedals
- The Grand Piano – This article gives information on how many keys a Grand Piano has and their frequency range. The article explains the soundboards, pedals and tells of how many parts a Grand Piano has.
- Pianos for the People – Pianos for the People is an article that shows 19th century British consumers, showing the life styles of the middle class living in suburban areas and with homes equipped with pianos.
- Playing with Pianos – This thesis paper is written on the topic of playing the piano in Victorian America.
- Types and Sizes of Pianos – The information found on this page covers the Grand Piano. It discusses the sizes and shapes. This article comes with excellent photo images for clarity.
- The Upright Piano – This article comes with an excellent photo of an old upright piano. You will discover piano history, keyboard and pedal information as it shows the difference between a grand and upright piano. All you have to do is click on the pages of the website to discover the information.
The birth of the piano came about because Bartolomeo Cristofori wanted to improve on the sound intensity and quality of the harpsichord. For the piano, the improvement came about through the idea of hammering the strings instead of plucking them, which changed the volume of the sound coming from the harpsichord. This unique sound turned the instrument into a piano.
- How the Piano Works – The information found in this article describes in detail how a piano functions from the pedals to the keyboard. Also included with this article are videos on the harpsichord and the piano.
- The Evolution of the Piano – This article gives a little background history of the piano before discussing the development of other pianos that came about after the harpsichord.
- The Physics of the Piano – With this article, which has diagrams; you will find information pertaining to the clavichord and the harpsichord. Article discusses their defining parts and mechanisms that make them stand out.
While the organ was mainly used as the instrument of the church, the harpsichord was used in places such as opera houses, and court orchestras. The clavichord could be heard in households of the modest and well to do as young girls prepared to meet and greet young male suitors. For young girls in this time period, they had to fulfill the role of pianist as well as keep a modest demeanor. The piano helped her accomplish this. Females were expected to know how to play the piano.
- The Development of the Keyboard – This article is actually a thesis written on the topic of early versions of the keyboard instrument, the piano.
- Technology and the Piano – This informative article gives information on piano history, technology and software used today. It also speaks on the traditional piano.
It goes without saying, that when it comes to playing the piano, all kinds of sounds can be produced. For instance, on the grand piano you can produce Mozart pieces or classical arrangements. The piano itself is used in solo performances, ensembles and when playing chamber music, the boogie woogie style or the sounds of low music or that of ragtime; playing the music like that of Eubie Blake and Max Morath. Piano music can put you in a somber mood, and it can also lift your spirit, making you get up and dance. You will find pianos being used in theater performances, recitals, schools, churches and night clubs.
- Colonial Music – Music and the piano sounds of the Colonial period fill this article. Also included with the article are photo images that elaborate on the information found in the article.
- Ragtime Piano Music – This is a very informative article that discuss the piano and Ragtime Music. The article gives information on Eubie Blake. You can also listen to an audio of two Ragtime piano players.
- A Celebration of the Piano (PDF) – This PDF file article gives a brief history of the piano from Bach to the Boogie Woogie. Information covers the 18th, 19th and 20th century productions of the piano.
All musical instruments need to be tuned in order to play well, including the piano; for the piano, tuning means adjusting the tension of the strings as they are stretched. Tuning creates a vibration that incorporates harmony among the strings. To tune a piano, you will need a tuning hammer. A piano should be tuned at least twice a year, depending on how often it is used. It is also recommended that a piano be tuned after it has been moved and the tuning should take place by a professional.
- Tuning the Pianoforte – This informative article talks about the importance of tuning a piano. The article also mentions the cost of tuning and how often a piano should be tuned.
- The Piano's Ivory Cage – This in depth article gives information on tuning the keyboard of a piano. It speaks of tuning for classical music and tuning really involves.
by: Vaughn Johnson