A Brief Lesson on Pianos

Cristofori early inventions on instrument were made with thin strings and more quite than the modern piano, they are much louder and had more sustain than clavichord.

There are three Cristofori pianos:

  • 1720 which is in Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
  • 1722 from the Museo degli Strumente Musicali in Rome
  • 1726 which is in Leipzig Germany
  • Years gone by before Cristofori’s invention had made public. Scipioe Maffie, an Italian journalist in 1709 had visited Cristofori, publishing drawings on the new designs two years later. Gottlieb Silbermann, an instrument builder built his own design after he saw the drawing of Cristofori. J.S Bach appraised and criticized Silbermann’s work that tends him to do some improvement in it, which he endorsed in 1740’s. In 1750’s and 60’s, political and economic problems occurred throughout Europe that limit the development of piano production and a lot of piano builders relocated to England where keyboard instrument building boomed. A separate and unique English style of action developed in 1766. There were two schools of piano making in the year 1780’s: the Viennese and the English school of piano making. The Viennese instruments are lighter, with light weight and simpler mechanism. Some composers were amazed by the Viennese “harpsichord with soft and loud” finding it increasingly responsive to player’s desires compared to accuracy required to play traditional harpsichord. The English method added weight to the sound through different methods. There were iron bars being added to the wooden framework so that strings could be made heavier.  Its actions designed for limited repetition while satisfying the needs for greater volume.

piano2Instrument builders in both schools continued to improve the mechanics and structures of their instruments from the year 1700’s to 1800’s. From there, came Sebastian Erard, a Parisian who invented the “double escapement” or repetition mechanism. His extraordinary idea came up to a point that the hummer hit the string again before the key returned to its original position. This was conceptualized and patented in the year 1821. Some composers are longing to attain more power and expressiveness through piano, so instrument builders were doing their best to improve the mechanics and structure of piano by producing more volume. The whole structure became stronger and heavier. Strings became heavier and with that, it added tension to the frame. Also iron bars were added to the wooden timbers of the cases.

In 1885, an early American piano maker named Alpheus Babcock invented a full cast iron plate for square piano. Jonas Chickering developed Babcock’s work with full iron frame for the grand piano. He opened his piano company in Boston in the year 1823. From that time on, the creation of piano had become fast. More shapes and sizes had been created and produced over the previous century like light, small, square, upright, trapezoidal, and rectangular boxes to winged type. Improvements of piano over the period of time eventually led clearly to the grand piano we are using today with their 88 keys. We are now enjoying the full rich sound and its best structural integrity and strength.

Steinway & Sons produced the first strung piano in the year 1859, and by around 1870 the piano was very similar to the piano of today. At last the instruments, composers and musicians had been waiting for is here. Since 1880, the piano had not change significantly in designs. In 1880, the middle class had arrived and the piano had been part of the household object. Pianos eventually became digital as was a much more cost efficient instrument. Not all electronic pianos are equal though so we highly recommend you to research digital piano reviews before making your purchase.

The player mechanism was one of the best developments of piano. In 1890’s, the piano was then popularized because of it was a pneumatic device with the notes stored in a rolled paper. Eventually another improvement came out in the year 1904. The piano was capable of recoding not only which note to play, but also all aspect of dynamic expression of performance.