viernes, 27 de noviembre de 2009

History of Piano



Now lets see the history of piano from wikipedia:

History and musical performance

Much of the most widely admired piano repertoire, for example, that of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, was composed for a type of instrument that is rather different from the modern instruments on which this music is normally performed today. Even the music of the Romantics, including Liszt, Chopin, Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn and Johannes Brahms, was written for pianos substantially different from ours.

Types

Modern pianos come in two basic configurations (with subcategories): the grand piano and the upright piano.

Grand

Steinway grand piano in the White House

 
In grand pianos, the frame and strings are horizontal, with the strings extending away from the keyboard. There are several sizes of grand piano. A rough generalization distinguishes the "concert grand" (between about 2.2 m and 3 m long) from the "parlor grand" or "boudoir grand" (about 1.7 m to 2.2 m) and the smaller "baby grand".

All else being equal, longer pianos with longer strings have larger, richer sound and lower inharmonicity of the strings. Inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequencies of overtones (known as partials, partial tones, or harmonics) depart from whole multiples of the fundamental frequency. Pianos with shorter, thicker, and stiffer strings (e.g., baby grands) have more inharmonicity. 

The longer strings on a concert grand can vibrate more freely than the shorter, thicker strings on a baby grand, which means that a concert grand's strings will have truer overtones. This allows the strings to be tuned closer to equal temperament in relation to the standard pitch with less "stretching" in the piano tuning. Full-size grands are usually used for public concerts, whereas smaller grands, introduced by Sohmer & Co. in 1884, are often chosen for domestic use where space and cost are considerations.

A grand piano action has a repetition lever for each key. If the key is pressed repeatedly and fairly quickly this repetition lever catches the hammer close to the strings, which assists the speed and control of repeated notes and trills.

Upright


 

Upright piano by August Förster

 
Vertical Piano Action
 
Upright pianos, also called vertical pianos, are more compact because the frame and strings are vertical. The hammers move horizontally, and are returned to their resting position by springs which are prone to wear and tear.
Upright pianos with unusually tall frames and long strings are sometimes called "upright grand" pianos.
Some authors classify modern pianos according to their height and to modifications of the action that are necessary to accommodate the height.
  • Studio pianos are around 42 to 45 inches tall. This is the shortest cabinet that can accommodate a 'full-sized' action located above the keyboard.
  • Console pianos have a compact action (shorter hammers), and are a few inches shorter than studio models.
  • The top of a Spinet model barely rises above the keyboard. The action is located below, operated by vertical wires that are attached to the backs of the keys.
  • Anything taller than a studio piano is called an upright.

Other types

Player piano

 
Toy pianos began to be manufactured in the 19th century.
In 1863, Henri Fourneaux invented the player piano, which "plays itself" from a piano roll without the need for a pianist. A performance is "recorded" onto rolls of paper with perforations, and the player piano replays the performance using pneumatic devices. Modern equivalents of the player piano include the Bösendorfer CEUS and the Yamaha Disklavier, using solenoids and MIDI rather than pneumatics and rolls.
A silent piano is an acoustic piano having an option to silence the strings by means of an interposing hammer bar. They are designed for private silent practice.

The transposing piano was invented in 1801 by Edward Ryley. It has a lever under the keyboard used to move the keyboard relative to the strings so that a pianist can play in a familiar key while the music sounds in a different key.

The prepared piano, encountered in some contemporary art music, is a grand piano which has objects placed inside it to alter its sound, or which has had its mechanism changed in some other way. The scores for music for prepared piano specify the modifications, for example instructing the pianist to insert pieces of rubber, or paper, or metal screws or washers, in between the strings. These either mute the strings or alter their timbre.

Available since the 1980s, digital pianos use digital sampling technology to reproduce the sound of each piano note. Digital pianos can be sophisticated, with features including working pedals, weighted keys, multiple voices, and MIDI interfaces. However, when the damper pedal (see below) is depressed on such an instrument, there are no strings to vibrate sympathetically. Physical models of sympathetic vibration are incorporated into the synthesis software of some higher end digital pianos, such as the Yamaha Clavinova series, or the KAWAI MP8 series.

With the advent of powerful desktop computers, highly realistic pianos have become available as affordable software modules. Some of these modules, such as Synthogy's Ivory released in 2004, use multi-gigabyte piano sample sets with as many as 90 recordings, each lasting many seconds, for each of the 88 (some have 81) keys under different conditions, augmented by additional samples to emulate sympathetic resonance, key release, the drop of the dampers, and simulations of piano techniques like re-pedaling. Some other software modules, such as Modartt's Pianoteq released in 2006, use no samples whatsoever and are a pure synthesis of all aspects of the physicalities which go into the creation of a real piano's sound.

In recent times, piano manufactures have superseded the old fashioned pianola or player piano with new innovative pianos which play themselves via a CD or MP3 Player. Similar in concept to a player piano, the PianoDisc or iQ systems installed in select pianos will 'play themselves' when prompted by a certain file format designed to be interpreted by software installed and connected to the piano. Such additions are quite expensive, often doubling the cost of a piano and are available in both upright and grand pianos.

Keyboard


 
Almost every modern piano has 36 black keys and 52 white keys for a total of 88 keys (seven octaves plus a minor third, from A0 to C8). Many older pianos only have 85 keys (seven octaves from A0 to A7), while some manufacturers extend the range further in one or both directions.
Some Bösendorfer pianos extend the normal range downwards to F0, with one other model going as far as a bottom C0, making a full eight octave range. 

These extra keys are sometimes hidden under a small hinged lid that can be flipped down to cover the keys in order to avoid visual disorientation in a pianist unfamiliar with the extended keyboard. On others, the colors of the extra white keys are reversed (black instead of white).

The extra keys are added primarily for increased resonance from the associated strings; that is, they vibrate sympathetically with other strings whenever the damper pedal is depressed and thus give a fuller tone. Only a very small number of works composed for piano actually use these notes. More recently, the Stuart and Sons company has also manufactured extended-range pianos, with the first 102 key piano. On their instruments, the frequency range extends from C08 which is the widest practical range for the acoustic piano. The extra keys are the same as the other keys in appearance. to F

Small studio upright acoustical pianos with only 65 keys have been manufactured for use by roving pianists. Known as "gig" pianos and still containing a cast iron harp, these are comparatively lightweight and can be easily transported to and from engagements by only two people. As their harp is longer than that of a spinet or console piano, they have a stronger bass sound that to some pianists is well worth the trade-off in range that a reduced key-set offers.

The Toy piano manufacturer Schoenhut started manufacturing both grands and uprights with only 44 or 49 keys, and shorter distance between the keyboard and the pedals. These pianos are true pianos with action and strings. The pianos were introduced to their product line in response to numerous requests in favor of it.

Pedals

Standard pedals

Piano pedals from left to right: una corda, sostenuto, and sustain pedal

Pianos have had pedals, or some close equivalent, since the earliest days. (In the 18th century, some pianos used levers pressed upward by the player's knee instead of pedals.) Most grand pianos have three pedals: the soft pedal (una corda), sostenuto, and sustain pedal (from left to right, respectively). Most modern upright pianos also have three pedals: soft pedal, practice pedal and sustain pedal, though older or cheaper models may lack the practice pedal.

The sustain pedal (or, damper pedal) is often simply called "the pedal", since it is the most frequently used. It is placed as the rightmost pedal in the group. It lifts the dampers from all keys, sustaining all played notes. In addition, it alters the overall tone by allowing all strings, even the ones not directly played, to reverberate.
The soft pedal or una corda pedal is placed leftmost in the row of pedals. 

In grand pianos, it shifts the entire action, including the keyboard, to the right, so that the hammers hit only one of the three strings for each note (hence the name una corda, or 'one string'). The effect is to soften the note as well as to change the tone. In uprights, this action is not possible, and so the pedal moves the hammers closer to the strings, allowing the hammers to hit the strings with less kinetic energy to produce a softer sound, but with no change in timbre.
On grand pianos, the middle pedal is a sostenuto pedal. 

This pedal keeps raised any damper that was already raised at the moment the pedal is depressed. This makes it possible to sustain some notes (by depressing the sostenuto pedal before notes to be sustained are released) while the player's hands are free to play other notes. This can be useful for musical passages with pedal points and other otherwise tricky or impossible situations.

On many upright pianos, there is a middle pedal called the 'practice' or celeste pedal. This drops a piece of felt between the hammers and strings, greatly muting the sounds.
There are also non-standard variants. On some pianos (grands and verticals), the middle pedal can be a bass sustain pedal: that is, when it is depressed, the dampers lift off the strings only in the bass section. 

This pedal would be used only when a pianist needs to sustain a single bass note or chord over many measures, while playing the melody in the treble section. On the Stuart and Sons piano as well as the largest Fazioli piano, there is a fourth pedal to the left of the principal three. This fourth pedal works in the same way as the soft pedal of an upright piano, moving the hammers closer to the strings.

Unusual pedals


 

An upright pedal piano
 
The rare transposing piano, of which Irving Berlin possessed an example, had a middle pedal that functioned as a clutch which disengages the keyboard from the mechanism, enabling the keyboard to be moved to the left or right with a lever. The entire action of the piano is thus shifted to allow the pianist to play music written in one key so that it sounds in a different key. 

The pedalier piano, or pedal piano, is a rare type of piano that includes a pedalboard, enabling bass register notes to be played with the feet, as is standard on the organ. There are two types of pedal piano: the pedal board may be an integral part of the instrument, using the same strings and mechanism as the manual keyboard, or, less frequently, it may consist of two independent pianos (each with its separate mechanics and strings) which are placed one above the other, a regular piano played by the hands and a bass-register piano played by the feet.

Construction

Many parts of a piano are made of materials selected for sturdiness. In quality pianos, the outer rim of the piano is made of a hardwood, normally maple or beech. According to Harold A. Conklin, the purpose of a sturdy rim is so that "the vibrational energy will stay as much as possible in the soundboard instead of dissipating uselessly in the case parts, which are inefficient radiators of sound."



View from below of a 182-cm grand piano. In order of distance from viewer: softwood braces, tapered soundboard ribs, soundboard. The metal rod at lower right is a humidity control device.


The rim is normally made by laminating flexible strips of hardwood to the desired shape, a system that was developed by Theodore Steinway in 1880. The thick wooden braces at the bottom (grands) or back (uprights) of the piano are not as acoustically important as the rim, and are often made of a softwood, even in top-quality pianos, in order to save weight. The requirement of structural strength, fulfilled with stout hardwood and thick metal, makes a piano heavy; even a small upright can weigh 136 kg (300 lb), and the Steinway concert grand (Model D) weighs 480 kg (990 lb). The largest piano built, the Fazioli F308, weighs 691 kg (1520 lb).

The pinblock, which holds the tuning pins in place, is another area of the piano where toughness is important. It is made of hardwood, (often maple) and generally is laminated (built of multiple layers) for additional strength and gripping power. Piano strings (also called piano wire), which must endure years of extreme tension and hard blows, are made of high quality steel. They are manufactured to vary as little as possible in diameter, since all deviations from uniformity introduce tonal distortion. The bass strings of a piano are made of a steel core wrapped with copper wire, to increase their mass whilst retaining flexibility.



 Cast iron plates of Steinway concert grand pianos, model D-274

The plate, or metal frame, of a piano is usually made of cast iron. It is advantageous for the plate to be quite massive. Since the strings are attached to the plate at one end, any vibrations transmitted to the plate will result in loss of energy to the desired (efficient) channel of sound transmission, namely the bridge and the soundboard. Some manufacturers now use cast steel in their plates, for greater strength. The casting of the plate is a delicate art, since the dimensions are crucial and the iron shrinks by about one percent during cooling.

The inclusion in a piano of an extremely large piece of metal is potentially an aesthetic handicap, which piano makers overcome by polishing, painting and decorating the plate. Plates often include the manufacturer's ornamental medallion and can be strikingly attractive. In an effort to make pianos lighter, Alcoa worked with Winter and Company piano manufacturers to make pianos using an aluminum plate during the 1940s. The use of aluminum for piano plates, however, did not become widely accepted and was discontinued.

The numerous grand parts and upright parts of a piano action are generally hardwood (e.g. maple, beech. hornbeam). However, since World War II, plastics have become available. Early plastics were incorporated into some pianos in the late 1940s and 1950s, but proved disastrous because they crystallized and lost their strength after only a few decades of use. 

The Steinway firm once incorporated Teflon, a synthetic material developed by DuPont, for some grand action parts in place of cloth, but ultimately abandoned the experiment due to an inherent "clicking" which invariably developed over time. (Also Teflon is "humidity stable" whereas the wood adjacent to the Teflon will swell and shrink with humidity changes, causing problems.) More recently, the Kawai firm has built pianos with action parts made of more modern and effective plastics such as carbon fiber; these parts have held up better and have generally received the respect of piano technicians



 Ivorite and ebony keys on a modern Steinway grand piano

The part of the piano where materials probably matter more than anywhere else is the soundboard. In quality pianos, this is made of solid spruce (that is, spruce boards glued together at their edges). Spruce is chosen for its high ratio of strength to weight. The best piano makers use close-grained, quarter-sawn, defect-free spruce, and make sure that it has been carefully dried over a long period of time before making it into soundboards. In cheap pianos, the soundboard is often made of plywood.

Piano keys are generally made of spruce or basswood, for lightness. Spruce is normally used in high-quality pianos. Traditionally, the black keys were made from ebony and the white keys were covered with strips of ivory, but since ivory-yielding species are now endangered and protected by treaty, plastics are now almost exclusively used. Also, ivory tends to chip more easily than plastic. Legal ivory can still be obtained in limited quantities. The Yamaha firm invented a plastic called "Ivorine" or "Ivorite" that mimics the look and feel of ivory; it has since been imitated by other makers.

Care and maintenance


A piano tuner
 
Pianos need regular tuning to keep them up to pitch, which is usually the internationally recognized standard concert pitch of A4 = 440 Hz. The hammers of pianos are voiced to compensate for gradual hardening, and other parts also need periodic regulation. Aged and worn pianos can be rebuilt or reconditioned. Often, by replacing a great number of their parts, they can be made to perform as well as new pianos. Older pianos are often more settled and produce a warmer tone.


Piano moving should be done by trained piano movers using adequate manpower and the correct equipment for any particular piano's size and weight.Pianos are heavy yet delicate instruments. Over the years, professional piano movers have developed special techniques for transporting both grands and uprights which prevent damage to the case and to the piano's mechanics.

Role

The piano is a crucial instrument in Western classical music, jazz, film, television, and most other complex western musical genres. Since a large number of composers are proficient pianists – and because the piano keyboard offers an easy means of complex melodic and harmonic interplay – the piano is often used as a tool for composition.

Pianos were, and still are, popular instruments for private household ownership. Hence, pianos have gained a place in the popular consciousness, and are sometimes referred to by nicknames including: "the ivories", "the joanna", "the eighty-eight", "the black(s) and white(s)", and "the little joe(s)". Playing the piano is sometimes referred to as "tickling the ivories".

 next will be piano reading

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