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The piano, ever since its creation, has had an undeniable impact on the world of music. Through it, many great pianists were born and many masterpieces were written that are still being listened to and played today. This raises the question: why is this contraption of wood, metal and strings so beautiful?
Here are the 5 reasons why the piano is a gorgeous instrument:
- The piano is a majestic instrument
- One of the most popular instruments
- Has a rich history
- Insane level of versatility
- Expression of emotions
The piano is a majestic instrument
With over 12,000 parts, 10,000 of which are moving, the piano is an incredibly intricate instrument. Among those are over 200 strings, each with its hammer to strike on it, with the purpose to create a unique sound.
Furthermore, the sheer size of a piano is a sight to behold: an average concert grand piano weighs over 1400 pounds (635 kg) – that’s more than the weight of an average adult horse! – and are 8 feet and 11 inches in height (2.7 m). Such a grand instrument makes any pianist sitting in front of it seem tiny in comparison.
The piano is also memorable. People may confuse the trumpet with the trombone, or not understand the differences between an acoustic and electric guitar, but few incorrectly identify the piano. Not to mention the iconic shiny, black silhouette of a piano will instantly elevate the status of the space it occupies. This is why the piano is a perfect addition to any home’s living room.
One of the most popular instruments
With 18 million non-professional piano players in the USA alone, no one can deny the popularity of piano. It is the easiest instrument to get into. While other instruments require difficult fingerings (i.e violin) or specific breathing techniques (i.e trumpet), anyone can just press a key on a piano to make a sound. This is why the piano has a lower barrier of entry compared to other instruments
It is also easier to learn music theory by playing the piano since concepts such as semitone, scales, chords can be visualized and understood directly by looking at the piano keyboard. A tuned acoustic or electric piano will always give the correct pitch when a key is hit. which helps develop a good sense of pitch in players compared to other instruments that require correct fingerings or breathing to give the correct pitch.
These factors explain why the piano is so popular, and is a great start for any new players learning the foundation of music, and makes it easier to transition into other instruments.
Has a rich history
Compared to other instruments, the piano has a shorter history since it has only been around for around 300 years. Yet, in such a short period of time, it has built for itself such a rich and diverse history.
The modern piano is similar in how it works to a clavichord, invented in the 14th century and popularized during the Renaissance Era, which sends a brass rod, called a tangent, to strike the strings and cause vibrations that emit sounds when a key is pressed.
Design wised, the modern piano looks similar to a harpsichord, created in 1500, which has two keyboards and uses a system of a “plectrum” to pluck the strings when a key is pressed.
Inventor of the piano
The piano as we know it was first created by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) in Italy at some point in the 1700s. He named his invention pianoforte – meaning “soft-loud” in Italian.
His piano used the same “hammers striking strings to create sounds” system seen in today’s pianos. The volume, however, was much quieter due to thinner strings being used.
Compared to its predecessors, Cristofori’s piano lets players decide the velocity to hit the keys, which in turn allows them to freely control the volume, intensity and length of the sounds.
Piano through the years
Since the first iteration of the piano, it has evolved with different types of pianos. Nowadays, the 3 most common types of piano are
- Upright piano: created in London, England in 1826 by Robert Wornum, and later improved by John Isacc Hawkins, upright pianos are characterized by their height. Inside the case, the strings run vertically and the hammers strike them by moving horizontally.
- Electric piano: unlike upright or grand pianos, electric pianos don’t use hammers and strings. Instead, it uses digital sampling technology to reproduce acoustic sounds. The keys are often weighted to replicate the feelings of an acoustic piano.
- Grand piano: the strings run horizontally. The lid is propped open to allow superior sound quality that can’t be found in other types of piano, suitable for large concerts or performances. In general, the larger the grand piano, the greater the timbre of sound quality.
Of course, we can’t forget the people that actually bring the piano to life through their compositions and playing. From Beethoven’s Sonatas to Mozart’s Nocturnes, without these pianists, the piano would just be a lifeless machine. Their names are engraved in the history books and their pieces are timeless, to be listened to and played by generations long since their passing.
Insane level of versatility
The piano is often dubbed “the king of all instruments” and it’s reasonable to see why. A piano is capable of producing a complete orchestra sound, allowing pianists to play from the lowest to the highest tones within its vast range of tones.
This means most genres of music can be played on the piano, from classical, jazz to rock or modern pop music. The piano can be an entire musical world, melody and harmony all in one instrument
Furthermore, the piano is one of those rare instruments that can play melody and accompaniment at the same time.
Expression of emotions
A range of 88 weighted keys along with pedals allows pianists to express their emotions by varying their speed or how hard they hit the keys. If you play piano, there are times when you just can’t help but move with the music and get lost in it. It makes sense why pianists in piano competitions move weirdly when playing the piano.
A piano is like a blank sheet of paper, where your playing is the words etched onto it, embedded in it are your emotions. A story could be told by simply playing the notes on the sheet. Here is a quote from Chopin that perfectly encapsulates why a lot of people play piano: