|engl .: piano , it .: pianoforte|
|Grand piano and upright piano|
List of pianists
Piano (from Latin clavis "key", the medieval Latin clavis "key") today called the modern, advanced fortepiano , so a musical instrument, in which on a button via a special mechanism hammers against strings are struck. The common name also Pianoforte or shortened Piano arose because the first time the pianoforte to change the volume at any time variable between soft (piano) and loud (forte), unlike for example, provided an opportunity harpsichord . The current major forms of the piano are the wing (English grand piano ), and the upright piano (English upright piano ). The latter is almost always referred to as piano today and is often equated with this term.
In medieval music theory, the word clavis ( Latin for "key") stood for a tone marked with a letter. Because tone letters were sometimes written directly on the keys of the organ , the term clavis could be transferred to the key itself. In notated music, tone letters were written in front of the system of lines, so that the designation was also transferred to the clef . In the English word key , the multiple meanings key / tone level / key / clef has been preserved to this day.
For the entirety of all claves (“keys”), the French clavier [ klaˈvje ] “keyboard; Klaviatur “the German word clavier in use. Until the end of the 18th century, all keyboard instruments were grouped together under this name, regardless of the type of sound they were produced, including the organs ( wind pianos ) ( Sebastian Virdung , 1511; Jakob Adlung , 1758).
In 1619 Michael Praetorius called every string instrument made to sound via a keyboard clavicordium - both the tangent pianos ( especially the clavichords in the narrower sense) and the plucked pianos ( harpsichords , virginals and spinets ). In his textbook Attempt on the True Art of Playing the Clavier (1753), Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach referred to players of all stringed keyboard instruments, including the still relatively young fortepiano, as clavierists. The harpsichord was called the wing, the clavichord the clavicord and the pianoforte forte piano. In the 19th century the word piano became generally accepted as a term for keyboard instruments with hammer action.
In 1960, the music historian Friedrich Wilhelm Riedel recommended that the term “clavier” be transferred back to all keyboard instruments in this way, because in early music the choice of keyboard instrument was often left open.
The also common name piano is the short form of pianoforte (from Italian piano [ ˈpi̯aːno ] "leise" and forte [ ˈfɔrte ] "loud"). It refers to the fact that on hammer pianos - unlike on older keyboard instruments - large differences in volume can be achieved by striking the keys with different strengths (see dynamics (music) ).
Often the term piano is used only to describe the pianino (Italian: "small piano", vertical stringing), in contrast to the grand piano (horizontal stringing). Since the invention of keyboard instruments with electrical, electronic or digital sound generation ( digital pianos ), it has mostly been reserved for instruments of acoustic-mechanical construction, while the word piano also includes digital pianos that try to simulate the sound and touch of the acoustic-mechanical instrument realistically .
Stringed keyboard instruments are historically traced back to the monochord . Several monochords developed into the two-handed raft or tube zither . In antiquity, this resulted in organs played with keys on the one hand, and various plucked, struck or bowed string instruments on the other, including the psaltery .
The organistrum from the 12th century - a hurdy-gurdy with string lengths that can be changed using tangent keys - is regarded as an intermediate link in the creation of stringed keyboard instruments. In 1397 a lawyer in Padua first mentioned a keyboard operated psaltery . 1404, the mentioned Minne rules of Eberhard von Cersne first time clavicordium and clavicymbolum . In 1425 such an instrument appeared on an altarpiece in Minden , in 1440 Arnaut Henri de Zwolle described this new type of instrument in a treatise, including a dulce melos that is operated with a hammer mechanism and is related to the dulcimer .
Adding a keyboard developed in the late Middle Ages, consisting of the monochord and the psaltery clavichord (fixed by pressing the associated tangents strike the strings) and in the Renaissance , the harpsichord and their variants Clavicytherium , spinet and virginal , the sound of which by scribing the Strings with a keel is produced.
The wing shape of the harpsichord eventually became the model for the first pianos.
Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731)
At the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century a lot of experimentation was carried out in order to construct a keyboard instrument that enabled dynamic playing (soft, loud and fine gradations) by pressing the keys of different strengths. The first to succeed was Bartolomeo Cristofori , an Italian instrument maker from Padua , who had been employed at the court of Ferdinando de 'Medici in Florence as a court harpsichord maker and curator of the musical instrument collection since 1690 at the latest . The inventory of musical instruments from 1700 lists an " arpicembalo che fà il piano e il forte " (harpsichord that can play loud and quiet), which is usually dated to 1698 and can be considered the first fortepiano . Presumably, Cristofori built a prototype in the workshops on the ground floor of the Uffizi as early as 1694. After a meeting with Cristofori, the Roman writer and journalist Scipione Maffei published an article in the Giornale dei letterati d'Italia in 1711 about an instrument built by Cristofori around 1709, the " gravicembalo col piano e forte " (harpsichord with (ability to) quiet and loud). This article contained a sketch of the special game mechanics and a detailed description of the mechanics, by means of whose translation into German the organ builder Gottfried Silbermann constructed his first fortepiano in 1726.
Cristofori's instruments were astonishingly mature. The mechanism has a mechanism in which the hammer is thrown against the string by means of a jack and transmission lever (impact mechanism with driver, i.e. intermediate lever that is translated); a so-called release (decoupling of the hammer from the key movement shortly before the stop) prevents the hammer from being pressed firmly and unwanted damping on the strings. Mutes separated by sound prevent the strings, which are stronger than the harpsichord, from continuing to sound after the key is released. Cristofori already used double strings (two strings per tone) to increase the volume of the sound, as well as the una corda mechanism since 1722 ; the instruments included four octaves (today mostly 7 1 / 3 , p. o. under keyboard ). He had thoroughly reinforced the instrument housing for the significantly higher pulling forces of the hammer piano.
Despite their excellent quality, the first pianos in Italy did not meet with a great response, probably because of the high manufacturing costs compared to the harpsichord and also initially weak tone, which is why Cristofori stopped building pianos in 1726. Until the end of his life he devoted himself to making harpsichords. He made a total of 20 fortepianos, three of which are still preserved today. The oldest known specimen from 1720 is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York , one from 1722 in the Musical Instrument Museum in Rome and one from 1726 in the Musical Instrument Museum of the University of Leipzig .
Two students and journeymen of Cristoforis, Domenico del Mela (1683 to approx. 1760) and Giovanni Ferrini (approx. 1699 to 1758), also built some instruments with hammer mechanics. a. gained popularity on the Iberian Peninsula and established their own tradition at the royal courts of Spain and Portugal. In 1732 Lodovico Giustini composed the first music specially written for the fortepiano in Florence, which contained instructions on how to increase ( crescendo ) and decrease (decrescendo) and was played on the occasion of a diplomatic visit by the Portuguese crown prince to the Medici court in Florence . The prince made the Christofori apprentices offers to continue working in Portugal under his sponsorship, which they accepted; they accompanied him on the way back to Portugal. This gave rise to the Portuguese and Spanish piano making tradition.
In Italy, however, the piano making tradition ended for many decades after Ferrini's death.
Gottfried Silbermann (1683–1753)
Some independent inventions in France, Cuisinés Clavier (1708) and Jean Marius' Clavecin à maillets (1716), both presumably inspired by Hebenreit's Pantaleon , did not seem to go beyond the status of curios due to technical difficulties. The spark, however, jumped over to Germany, which, together with England, would make a significant contribution to the development of the modern piano in the following decades. The German clavichord teacher Christoph Gottlieb Schröter invented two hammer mechanisms for harpsichords around 1717, which he was unable to develop further for financial reasons. Nevertheless, he was considered the inventor of the piano for a long time. One of the most important organ builders of the Baroque era, Gottfried Silbermann , got to know a fortepiano from Cristofori's workshop in 1717. The instrument came to Dresden in a train of musicians. They followed an invitation to premier three new operas by Antonio Lotti at the electoral court . Together with Johann Ulrich von König he was able to examine the instrument and König translated Maffei's description of the mechanics into German. Silbermann had the necessary know-how and the financial means to develop his own model based on Cristofori's mechanics, which he was able to present in 1726. He then built another fortepiano. “ Blessed Kapelm had one of them. Mr. Joh. Sebastian Bach seen and recorded. He had praised the sound of it, even admired it: but rebuked it because it was too weak in the high altitude and even too difficult to play. This had Mr. Silbermann, who could not be criticized for his work, received a very bad reception. He was therefore angry with Mr. Bach for a long time. “Nevertheless, Silbermann worked on improving his instruments for almost ten years and eventually earned Bach's recognition. After King Frederick II of Prussia came to power , the Freiberg instrument maker was able to deliver 15 instruments to the court in Potsdam. In 1747 Johann Sebastian Bach improvised his three-part ricercare in front of the king on one of these fortepiano. This instrument, which is now kept in the New Palace in Potsdam, is being recreated by the Neupert company.
At this time the fortepiano apparently already had a good reputation. It was the most universal keyboard instrument and an excellent sound tool for a professional musician. Hammer pianos, known as Silbermann's Piano Fort , had a bounce mechanism. A new addition was a damping suspension with hand levers, which has since been part of the basic equipment of every piano (today via the Forte pedal).
Many of Silbermann's students continued his work and developed it further. Christian Ernst Friederici proved to be particularly innovative . He was the first to build a square piano and experimented a lot with upright instruments; famous and impressive are its pyramid wings. Twelve of Silbermann's students (therefore also called "the twelve apostles") fled to England during the turmoil of the Seven Years' War , where they established the English tradition of piano making.
Johann Andreas Stein and the Viennese mechanics
The organ builder Johann Andreas Stein learned his trade with the Alsatian branch of the Silbermann family in Strasbourg . He founded his own workshop in Augsburg in 1750 and began to develop his own pianos. He made decisive changes that had a lasting impact on piano manufacturing in the following decades. He improved Silbermann's bouncing mechanism by adding a trigger, which made it easier to play. This pinch tongue mechanism was created around 1781 and became known as the German mechanism . The casings of his instruments were built much more robust and often braced. The soundboard was more powerfully dimensioned and ribbed throughout under tension. All of these innovations gave Stein's hammer pianos a new tonal character. They were brighter, more penetrating, and more present. The new power of expression met with enthusiasm among composers and musicians and thus created the basis for the piano as a solo instrument.
Stein's descendants continued the business, his children Andreas and Nanette moved to Vienna in 1794 . After further improvements, Stein's mechanics became known as the Wiener Mechanik and were adapted by numerous piano makers. In particular, the catcher , a leather-covered clamping block on the key, greatly improved the game mechanics. It prevents the hammer falling from the strings from bouncing back and producing an unintentional double tone.
At that time, Vienna was, alongside London, a world metropolis of music and an ideal breeding ground for artists and inventors. Over 100 instrument makers were temporarily active in Vienna, the Stein siblings as well as Joseph Brodmann , Conrad Graf and Anton Walter being highly respected .
Development in England: square piano, English mechanics, struts
In contrast to Johann Andreas Stein, who further developed Silbermann's bouncing mechanics, the English piano makers, including many Silbermann students who had emigrated to England during the turmoil of the Seven Years' War, made direct use of Cristofori's bouncing mechanics. For practical and financial reasons, Johann Christoph Zumpe made his first square piano between 1760 and 1762 . It was a cost-effective instrument with a simple mechanism and few decorations. But the square piano became a real hit in London. It became fashionable to own one that Zumpe “ couldn't produce them fast enough to satisfy the public's demands ”. Now numerous other London piano makers began to build table pianos as well. The relatively low price compared to the fortepiano and the harpsichord made it possible for the bourgeoisie to purchase an instrument. The commercial success of the table piano in England laid the foundation for the piano to eventually become one of the most popular and widely used instruments of the European bourgeoisie.
Also Americus Backers developed by about 1772 a new jack mechanics. After improvements by Robert Stodart and John Broadwood , this became known as English mechanics . John Broadwood, the Scottish foreman, then son-in-law of Burkhard Tschudi, a Swiss who emigrated to London, was probably one of the first to use scientific methods to improve mechanics and sound. He determined the optimal position at which the hammer should strike the string so that it sounds fuller. Since then, piano strings have been struck at around a seventh to ninth of their sounding length, an odd number in order to achieve harmonics and a sound enrichment. For the first time, Broadwood bridged the hammer shaft, which weakened the structure of the wing, with a steel bracket, the beginning of the development of internal bracing of the wings. The hammer shaft bridge clamp enabled him to expand the range of the keyboard by an octave. The increase and quality improvement of the inner supports then resulted in the widening of the pitch range to the 88 keys in use today within a few decades. Broadwood's inventions were extremely successful. Towards the end of the 18th century he produced around 400 pianos a year, significantly more than any other manufacturer. In the first decades of the 19th century, Broadwood became the largest piano maker in the world.
Development in the first half of the 19th century
At the beginning of the 19th century, two grand piano mechanisms were predominant: the Viennese mechanism, which goes back to Johann Andreas Stein, and the English mechanism (jack mechanism) developed by Backers, Stodart and Broadwood. The instruments equipped with Viennese mechanics were more delicate in design. The sound was thinner and sweeter. But the musicians and composers of the emerging Romanticism demanded more power, volume, larger pitch range and more possibilities of expression, so that English mechanics became more and more popular. A number of adjustments were necessary to further amplify the sound volume. More sound requires bigger and heavier hammers. Due to the design, this could be better achieved with the English jack mechanics. Between 1750 and 1850 the keyboard grew from around five to seven and a half octaves. The trend towards higher volume and larger pitch range required more and thicker strings, whose enormous tensile force had to be absorbed. The path finally led to the iron cast frame via additional struts and iron struts (from 1799). The first patents for this come from Broadwood (1827), Chickering (1843) and the now common form from Steinway & Sons (1859). From 1824 piano strings were made of more resilient cast steel. The cross-string cover invented in 1830allowed the strings to be arranged in two diagonally stacked groups. This brought advantages for the statics of the instrument and made longer strings possible in shorter or lower instruments.
An innovation by Johann Heinrich Pape (1789–1875) in 1826 was to have profound effects on the sound of the piano and fundamentally change it. He did not wrap the hammer heads with leather, as was usual before, but with a felt covering . If treated correctly, felt can be more resistant than leather and can also be processed better. In the maximum form of hammer construction according to the developments by Henri Herz in Paris, the wings by Herz, Erard and Pleyel in Paris had up to nine layers at the time of Chopin , starting with two layers of deerskin on the inside of the wooden core, and several layers of felt and wool of different densities for rabbit fur on the outside as the softest material. Hammers of this extremely elaborate type allowed experts to create a richness and colourfulness of the piano sound, which was partly lost again with the development of even larger concert halls and higher volume, achieved with dense one or two-layer felt. Applying the felt to the hammer is a delicate process. For many hammer manufacturers, the exact procedure is a well-kept secret. The intonation of a piano, the detailed change of the sound of a single tone achieved by loosening and partly hardening the felt to match it within the entire range, has been the highest art of piano makers ever since.
A groundbreaking invention in piano construction comes from the French Sébastien Érard . He developed a repeater mechanism based on the English mechanism , which he patented in 1821. By means of a spring-loaded repeating leg at the level of the decoupling plunger, it allows a tone to be repeated without having to completely release the key. Since then, Érard's repeating shank has enabled a quick sequence of strokes in the grand piano for virtuoso, fast playing. After refinements by Henri Herz, between 1840 and 1850, the so-called double release wing mechanism was created , which has remained practically unchanged to this day.
With simple instruments, the damping was canceled by a manual pull, the Pantaleon pull or the Forte pull, in the "Mozart grand piano" via well-functioning knee levers, but then increasingly via pedals; In addition to the damper suspension, a moderator (felt cloth strips) and increasingly shifting were common, but also bassoon slide (parchment roll pressed against the strings), harp slide (brush or cloth fringed strip), lute slide (strip covered with leather), janissaries slide (percussion with timpani, bells or bells) etc. These modifications of the string sound, which originated from harpsichord construction, declined drastically after 1830. There were initially two pedals left on the piano, the damping cancellation ("forte") and the lateral displacement of the hammer stop (" una chorda ").
The fortepiano experienced a heyday in the first half of the 19th century and it was impossible to imagine society without it. The piano had outgrown the princely salons, it became an integral part of the concert system of large cities in the form of the large concert grand and in the form of table pianos, beginning high pianos and sometimes grand pianos , it also became an integral part of the middle-class apartment.
Origin of the pianino
Right from the start, upright wings were also built, for example by the Cristofori student Domenico del Mela and the Silbermann student Christian Ernst Friederici (1745). These instruments often have impressive shapes with names like giraffe piano , harp piano , Lyraflügel were occupied, pyramid piano or piano cabinet; they were mostly very high, very exclusive and had little in common with today's pianinos.
The first small pianinos were made around 1800 independently of Matthias Müller in Vienna and John Isaac Hawkins in Philadelphia . Robert Wornum was technically and commercially successful , who built a cottage piano around 1811 , which developed into the piccolo piano by 1826 and was to become a model for all later pianinos. Its mechanism is a slide mechanism with release; it is based on the principles of the English mechanics of grand pianos and transforms them using the hammer pivot joint, the so-called hammer nut. He developed it further in the 1830s. This mechanic was further developed in Paris by Pleyel and Pape and made commercially successful, which is why it also became known as the French mechanic . It essentially corresponds to today's piano mechanics. The construction of the pianinos replaced the panel pianos, which were more expensive in terms of material and space, and which were sonically disadvantaged, in Europe as early as around 1850, and in the USA by around 1900.
Development in the second half of the 19th century
By the mid-19th century, most of the elements of the modern piano, both grand piano and pianino, had developed. What followed were a few innovations, v. a. the cross stringing of the grand piano, but especially continuous refinements and improvements in mechanics, construction and manufacturing processes. Characteristic of the second half of the 19th century is an unprecedented intensification of production. Around 33,000 pianos were manufactured in Europe in 1850; by 1910 there were already 215,000 pianos. On the one hand, the strong increase is likely to be due to the steadily increasing popularity of the piano among the bourgeois middle class, for whom owning a pianino became a status symbol , and, on the other hand, to the general increase in population in the 19th century. The once popular square piano has been ousted by the pianino, in which case it has become a victim of its own success. It developed from a simple, small instrument to a large and heavy colossus in an exclusive design. The gap was filled by the new, smaller and cheaper pianino, which became by far the most popular house instrument of the bourgeoisie internationally. By the end of the 19th century, most of the instrument makers had stopped producing square pianos.
At the London Industrial Exhibition (Great Exhibition) of 1851, one of the first major international world exhibitions , piano manufacturers from all over Europe and the New World met for the first time . The exhibition was a huge success and should be held regularly from now on. Such occasions allowed technological comparisons, spurred on the competition and contributed significantly to innovation. Heinrich Steinweg and his son Henry Steinway played a central role in the further development of the piano . In 1859 they patented the complete connection of sprue and cross strings on grand pianos and in 1866 the installation of sprues and cross strings on pianinos. In 1878 Steinway patented the curved shape of the wing housing made of laminated layers of maple. These innovations created the shape and basic construction of the modern piano, which has hardly changed since then, for over 140 years. The innovations were soon adopted by other manufacturers.
With the developments of the Steinway & Sons Centennial D model from December 1875, the concert grand can be regarded as largely developed. It has the cross strings from 1859, the one-piece cast plate, the mechanism frame from 1871, the sostenuto pedal and the pilot screws from 1875, and first of all the bass tensioning screws on the soundboard, which were omitted in 1878. The subsequent smaller modifications served less to improve the sound than to simplify and make production cheaper and to improve handling - while maintaining the sound result achieved. Its successor, the D-wing launched in 1884 and still produced today, is almost 200 kilograms lighter. The Centennial D still showed some experimental developments over its production time, but with the installation of the "Rims", the outer casing made of thick glue, on the D model from 1880, the final shape was found. What was initially hardly noticeable in those years of advancing technology was the impoverishment of the sound of the grand pianos with hammers made from bent strips of felt according to the Dolge patents and strings made from Bessemer steel invented in 1856 - developments that meet the requirements for the sound of very large concert halls with 2500 until 7,000 listeners were owed, an achievement that the grand pianos could not have achieved 30 years earlier. This type of wing, which is still technically up-to-date, was awarded a prize at the World Exhibition in 1876 - and has hardly been significantly improved since then.
The French grand pianos of the 1830s and 1840s by Hertz, Boisselot, Erard and especially Pleyel were richer in sound, more fiery, albeit quieter and not suitable for audiences of more than 1000 people, and their tonal richness did not have to be too high by today's standards The maintenance effort on the quickly wearing, elaborately handcrafted hammers must be paid for.
While many piano makers from Germany and France fled to England and America during the wars and political upheavals of the 18th and early 19th centuries, many returned to Europe in the second half of the 19th century. Germany became the leading piano manufacturer in the world, ahead of England, France and the USA. German piano makers delivered all over the world.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Berlin (over 200 piano makers) and Leipzig were the centers of piano manufacturing. Such a great demand could only be satisfied by changing and standardized production methods and the emerging, factory-made mass production .
The 20th and 21st centuries
At the beginning of the 20th century, the piano also boomed in the United States, which soon overtook European production. In 1910, 370,000 pianos were produced in the United States, compared to 215,000 in Europe. The heyday of piano making in Germany was brought to an abrupt end by the two world wars and the global economic crisis . Numerous manufacturers had to close their factories, lost them due to destruction in the war or had to switch to the production of war material. The industry recovered only cautiously after the Second World War, and it was not until the 1960s that an upswing began again. The German reunification had a positive effect on the piano from, could yet rich in tradition to 1990 companies in Eastern Germany (such as Blüthner not fully develop). The slump in European piano production was compensated for by the American and the emerging Asian. The last few decades in particular have been shaped by the booming piano manufacturing industry in Japan , South Korea and China . The Japanese Yamaha Corporation now manufactures grand pianos at the highest level, which are increasingly found in concert halls (e.g. the Philharmonie in Berlin). The Korean Young Chang and the Chinese Pearl River Group are among the largest piano manufacturers in the world today.
Since the 1980s, the advantages of electronics have also increasingly been used in piano construction. The result is a combination of an acoustic-mechanical piano and a digital piano . For this purpose, a stop bar is installed in the piano mechanism, which catches the hammers shortly before the string is struck (muting). At the same time, a sensor system is installed under the buttons , which transmits the game signals to a box to which headphones can be connected. This means that the piano can also be played "silently". This technique is used by different piano manufacturers and given different, similar-sounding names. Yamaha calls them Silent Piano (TM) and, since the launch of the next generation, also TransAcoustic (TM) , Kawai Anytime and PianoDisc QuietTime . Such mute systems are also available for retrofitting.
The leading piano manufacturers today are Steinway & Sons , Yamaha (especially with the CF series), Fazioli , Kawai and Bösendorfer (Vienna) (part of the Yamaha Group since 2007 ) as well as the German companies C. Bechstein , Julius Blüthner , Wilhelm Schimmel and Steingraeber & Sons .
Electronic pianos, digital pianos and hybrid pianos
Electronic keyboard instruments are a characteristic development of the 20th century . Already at the end of the 19th century, hardly after the discovery of electricity , experiments were carried out with its new possibilities. Independent and new instrument groups developed from them, such as the Rhodes piano , which are mostly used for other musical styles than the classical piano. For example, a keyboard no longer has much in common with a piano.
A completely different line of development, which began in the 1980s, is behind the digital pianos. In contrast to previous new developments in the history of the piano, the aim is not to improve the existing or to create something new, but on the contrary, the intention to imitate the "original" as closely as possible. The decisive elements are the sound and the feel (keyboard and mechanics). Today, the sound of a tone is not synthesized , but under different conditions (velocity, Pedalgebung, resonances as a function of previously depressed keys) with high-quality microphones recorded , digitized and stored (English: " sampling ") and then through the digital instrument according to the Operation of the buttons.
In order to imitate the playing feel as closely as possible, special mechanisms for digital pianos were developed. Sometimes even piano mechanics of mechanical-acoustic instruments are installed, the movement of which is recorded by sensors. In this case one speaks of hybrid pianos .
Digital instruments are also increasingly used by professional pianists for practice purposes and for teaching. Compared to acoustic pianos, they not only offer disadvantages, but also certain advantages, whereby the bandwidth and quality can also vary greatly with such instruments: the reference tone can be transposed and the pitch can be adjusted to the precise frequency. In addition, the tone color , sound effects and the mood system can be selected on some models . Many digital pianos have digital interfaces and can be used both for recording the music played on them and for playback. They are relatively light and hardly need any maintenance. The volume can be regulated and the instrument can be played with headphones. On the other hand, the sound and feel of a digital piano does not usually come close to that of a real piano.
Grand pianos and pianos have all the essential components in common:
- the housing (body) with beam construction, struts and rests made of wood
- the wooden soundboard glued to it
- the sound post made of wood
- the cast iron plate screwed onto the sound post with screwed-in metal pegs on which the ends of the strings are wound
- Strings made of cast steel wire (one thicker string wound with copper wire for each of the lowest notes, two thinner strings wound with copper wire for a transition area, three blank strings each for the other notes)
- the piano mechanics, consisting of a complex mechanism of keys, springs, tongues, tappets, dampers and hammers that strike the strings when the key is pressed and thus produce the sound
- the associated keyboard of 88 keys
- two to three pedals
These components were developed to perfection around 1880 and have been assembled to this day (2018) without any major changes. The only advances came in the mechanization and automation of the production of small parts.
The mechanism, also known as piano mechanics , hammer mechanics or stop mechanics , is a lever construction in which hammers are thrown against the piano strings at the push of a button in order to make them sound. The machine heads have been improved again and again over the centuries, a distinction must be made between machine heads for vertically strung pianinos and machine heads for horizontally strung grand pianos or table pianos .
The keyboard of most grand pianos, pianinos and digital pianos consists of 88 keys (on older instruments there are often only 85 because the keyboard ends at a 4 in height ), 52 of which are "white keys" (also "front keys" or " Lower keys ") and 36" black keys "(also" back keys "or" upper keys "), which protrude beyond the white keys, are relatively narrow and also have beveled sides. The standardized key width of modern instruments results in a total width of the keyboard of 123 cm; the surface of the white keys is approximately 74 cm above the floor.
In piano construction, an octave consists of seven white and five black keys. The white keys form a diatonic scale (a C major scale based on the key C), the black keys a pentatonic scale (a F sharp major pentatonic scale based on the key F sharp) - together this results in a chromatic scale . The lowest notes are on the left, the highest on the right.
The seven white keys are called c, d, e, f, g, a and h, the five black keys, depending on the musical context, c sharp, d sharp, f sharp, g sharp and a sharp (heightened key notes ) or des, es, g flat, a flat and b (lowering of the base notes). The keyboard embodies the European diatonic tone system , which uses C major and A minor as the starting keys and derives the other keys from them. The step from a white to a black key makes it easier to put the fingers over, and the step from a black to a white key makes it easier to put the thumb under .
The piano sound can be influenced by several pedals . Today two to three pedals are usually standard.
The right pedal is called the fortepedal (from Italian forte : strong, loud), also a damper pedal or holding pedal (not to be confused with the tone holding pedal described below); with the request “senza sordino” (Italian for “without damper”, often in the Italian plural form “senza sordini”, for example in the 1st movement of Beethoven's “ moonlight sonata ”) the right pedal is also meant. It ensures that all dampers are lifted off the strings so that the notes you struck continue to sound after you let go of the keys. In addition, the now undamped strings of other notes resonate, which gives the piano a fuller sound. In artistic piano playing, the right pedal is used in a highly differentiated manner; one differentiates z. B. the harmony pedal (collective pedal), the syncopated pedal (legato or binding pedal), the half-pedal, the pedal that was stepped ahead and the pedal that was stepped at the same time.
The left pedal is called "Pianopedal" (from it. Piano : quiet), also soft pedal , shift or una corda (it. For "one string"). In the case of a grand piano , the entire mechanism is shifted a few millimeters to the left or right so that the hammers no longer hit all three strings of a string choir, but only two or one string. This also changes the timbre , because there are now strings that are not excited by direct attack, but by resonance . In addition, other parts of the hammer felt hit the strings due to the shift. These sites are otherwise voiced (i. E. From the piano tuner softened with the Intoniernadel or cured with a file) as the Filzstellen that strike the strings in the normal position. With the pianino , the left pedal moves the hammers of the piano action closer to the strings, so that the force that each hammer can build up when pressed is less. This makes playing particularly quiet places easier. The manufacturer Fazioli offers a grand piano model with two piano pedals, which enables the pianist to choose between the "shift" and the piano pedal of the pianino technique.
The (not always present) middle pedal is either a tone sustaining pedal, a moderator pedal or a mute pedal (on hybrid pianos). If a grand piano has a middle pedal, it is usually the so-called tone-holding, tone-holding, sostenuto or Steinway pedal. This device was developed by French piano makers ( Jean Louis Boisselot 1844, Claude Montal 1862) and made a success in the USA ( Albert Steinway's patent from 1874). It prevents the dampers that have just been raised from falling back again. The player can thus hold individual tones or sounds while all other dampers continue to react to playing and releasing the keys (or the right pedal). The tone sustaining pedal - meanwhile it is also found in larger and more expensive piano models - is mainly used in the piano music of the 20th century. If a pianino has a middle pedal, it is usually the so-called moderator. When pressed, a strip of felt slides between the hammers and strings, making the instrument significantly quieter. This pedal can often be locked in the lower position by moving it sideways. With some pianinos, the moderator is not activated by a pedal, but by a sliding button or a rotatable lever that sits to the left of the keyboard or under it. In the 1960s in particular, some manufacturers provided the felt strips with rivets , which gave the piano a jingling, harpsichord-like sound. Since these metal plates damaged strings and hammer heads easily, they did not catch on.
Special features of the wing
A grand piano stands freely in the room, like a harpsichord. The notch, soundboard and strings are arranged horizontally, parallel to the floor. The sound therefore radiates mainly upwards and downwards from the soundboard. At the bottom it is reflected and distributed by the floor, at the top it is either dampened by the closed lid or bundled and radiated to the side from the open lid.
Pressing a button causes the rear part of the rocker switch to move upwards. In the case of the grand piano, the hammer is thrown up against the string. The weight of the hammer can be felt directly on the key and enables a differentiated sound design. Because they are positioned horizontally, the hammers' snap back from the string is supported by natural gravity. The repetition ability of a grand piano, i.e. the speed with which the same note can be struck several times in a row, is therefore more pronounced than with a pianino.
Some concert grand pianos, such as the “Imperial” from Bösendorfer , have a keyboard that is extended to eight octaves (C 2 to C 5 ).
Special features of the pianino
With the pianino, the notch, soundboard, cast frame, stringing and hammer mechanism (stand mechanism) are perpendicular to the floor, so that it can be placed on the wall to save space and the sound is initially radiated forwards and backwards. With the usual setup, the rear part is reflected directly from the wall of the room and directed back onto the soundboard. A position slightly away from the wall or a small angle to the wall often changes the sound of pianinos enormously to the advantage. The front part of the sound is reflected in the housing.
Due to the impact on the front of the harp, the soundboard area of a high piano is often comparatively large. This often makes higher pianinos (from approx. 120 cm in height) astonishingly powerful - especially when compared to smaller grand pianos (less than 170 cm in length).
With the pianino, the upward movement of the rocker switch must be converted into a forward movement of the hammer. This means that finger contact with the hammer is more indirect.
The damping of a pianino or high piano is usually located below the hammers on the same side of the string system, in the area of the stronger amplitudes of the antinodes.
However, some older pianinos (up to around 1910) have a so-called upper damper mechanism; the damper dolls sit over the hammers. In English one also finds the term “birdcage action”, “bird cage” mechanism, because of the damper actuating wires built in front of the hammer mechanism. On the one hand, this type of damping is less effective than on a piano under-mute, as it only dampens the vibrations in the edge area of the antinodes, and on the other hand, the damper dummy can thwart an optimal hammer contact point with short treble strings - with corresponding disadvantages for the sound quality. Tuning and, above all, the regulation of the mechanics can be made more difficult by the damper wires in front. However, it cannot be said that upper mute pianos are generally completely unsuitable for these reasons, as is often claimed. A well-regulated upper mute piano is the ideal instrument for early jazz and especially for ragtime because of its clear reverberation .
The specific characteristics of the piano sound include the fixed pitches, a coloration of the sound linked to the velocity and thus the volume, and the irrevocable fading of the note, which is only lengthened by using the right pedal and by gradually or abruptly applying the damping can be ended gradually or abruptly.
A special feature of the piano is that the notes (apart from the lowest) are not produced by just one, but by two to three equally tuned strings, a so-called string choir . Originally this “multi-choir” was supposed to increase the volume of the instrument; Above all, however, it led to a more complex course of the sound composed of immediate and aftertaste.
The strings of a string choir are struck together. Since they are in tune , they vibrate in phase , but with slightly different amplitudes because the shape of the hammer is never perfectly regular. The most weakly struck string gradually resonates with the other strings after its own stimulation has subsided. Now the strings of the string choir function as coupled pendulums and exchange a large part of their energy with one another.
The loud but rapidly decaying part of the piano sound is called instant sound . It is mainly caused by a transverse vibration of the strings in the direction of the hammer blow, i.e. perpendicular to the soundboard. This vibration is primarily excited by the hammer, but it is relatively quickly transmitted vertically to the soundboard, which means that it releases its energy into the air as sound.
As an echo of the quieter, but more slowly decaying part of the piano sound is called. This is mainly caused by a slight transverse vibration of the strings across the strike of the hammer, i.e. parallel to the soundboard. This vibration gives its energy only with difficulty to the soundboard and therefore fades away slowly.
The use of the left pedal weakens the immediate sound on the one hand, since only two of the three strings of a string choir are struck, and on the other hand supports the reverberation because the string choir as a system of coupled pendulums releases its energy comparatively slowly. The left pedal therefore not only leads to an initially quieter, but also to a relatively longer-lasting tone.
The sound and the volume of a note on the piano is solely dependent on the speed and thus the kinetic energy not, however, the hammer, which strikes the strings of the way as the piano player to hammer on this speed accelerates , so do not of a certain lifting technique. If you ignore the pedals and disregard some phenomena that play an additional role, such as the "upper" and "lower noises" that arise depending on the style of play when the finger and key or between the wood and the key base collide, tone colors run - and volume changes on the piano are always parallel to each other.
However, the point in time at which the strings are struck after the piano key has been pressed depends on the temporal course of force and thus the acceleration of the hammer while it is being pressed, which means that a trained pianist can make a certain note sound a little earlier or later despite the same volume within certain limits (“Micro- agogic ”) and can set accents regardless of the volume . In this respect, the touch technique of the pianist has a decisive influence on the piano performance due to the actually achieved point in time at which the piano note begins.
Tuning, voicing and regulating
Since pianos get out of tune due to the tension of the strings, the stress of playing and climatic fluctuations and subsequently sound ugly, they should be tuned at least once a year . Due to inharmonicities of the overtones, the tuning is also subjectively determined by the piano tuner . (In concert halls, grand pianos are tuned up to three times a day.) Equal tuning is standard ; For original or replicated historical instruments, unequal tunings are often preferred ( historical performance practice ). In order to develop the sound of the grand piano or pianino, the piano maker will not only tune, but also intone it . One of the possible preparatory work is the slight peeling of the felt hammer heads with sandpaper files - this makes the sound more even and, if necessary, a bit “harder”. This is followed by the actual voicing through targeted pricking in certain hammer head areas with voicing needles - a job that usually makes the sound "softer". In addition to tuning and intonation, regulating the mechanics (the mechanism, the keyboard and the pedals) has a direct effect on the sound of the instrument.
The room climate has a direct impact on the sound of the instrument, as well as on regulation, tuning and overall on the stable value.
Above all, the humidity should be as constant as possible. A relative humidity between 40 and 70% is recommended, ideally between 50 and 60%. Values below 40% lead to excessive drying out of the wood and should be avoided at all costs, values above 70% encourage rust formation on metal parts, for example the strings. Installation on poorly insulated external walls, near radiators or on a heated floor is not recommended; drafts and direct sunlight should also be avoided.
Pianos often travel halfway around the globe before reaching their destination. This can lead to serious problems, for example if an instrument designed for the humid climate of East Asia has to endure the first cold and therefore dry winter in Central or Northern Europe. Today, large and well-known piano companies such as Yamaha produce their instruments for export to Europe or North America in specially air-conditioned rooms.
If the humidity drops more over a longer period of time, the wooden components lose moisture and contract. There is a risk that tuning pegs and screws will loosen, the keyboard frame bars and mechanics bars will warp (which impairs the regulation of the keyboard and mechanics), that the soundboard will lose its curvature (which causes the tuning to drop and the sound to suffer) and maybe even tearing. On the other hand, if the humidity rises more strongly over a longer period of time, the curvature of the soundboard increases, the mood rises, axes and keys can jam and the sound becomes dull (because the hammer felt absorbs moisture). These problems can be counteracted to a certain extent by using high-quality materials. Keyboard frames and mechanical bars made of metal are also possible, but have other disadvantages. Laminated soundboards hardly work, but they sound significantly worse.
Dissemination and use
In 1925, 137,000 pianos were built in Germany alone, which was then the leading production country. In the USA , the success of ragtime at the beginning of the 20th century was accompanied by an enormous upswing in piano construction, also (until around 1930) in the construction of pneumatically and electrically powered reproduction pianos . In 2007 around 450,000 pianinos and grand pianos were produced worldwide, around two thirds of them in the Far East ; fewer than 10,000 instruments came from Germany. Price differences between similarly dimensioned pianos (also between different product lines from one and the same manufacturer) result from shorter or longer, more or less automated production processes, from production in low or high-wage countries and from different qualities of tonewood or felt, for example.
In 1980 there were around 9,300,000 flutes, 8,400,000 harmonicas / melodica, 3,800,000 guitars, 2,200,000 accordions and 1,600,000 pianinos / grand pianos in West German private households.
Leisure behavior in Germany has changed: just two percent of people make music every day, 78 percent never. Accordingly, sales of pianos have decreased to around a tenth (12,000 per year) since 1925. There are 1.5 million instruments; 130,000 students take classes. Used pianos are often given away because of the high costs involved in moving and tuning; around 3,500 instruments are scrapped every year.
The first composer to write specifically for the fortepiano invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori was Lodovico Giustini from Pistoia . He composed twelve sonatas entitled “Sonata Da Cimbalo di piano e forte detto volgarmente di martelletti” , which were published in Florence in 1732 . In order for the interpreters to fully exploit the possibilities of the new instrument, he provided his music with notes such as “più forte” (louder) or “più piano” (quieter).
In the first half of the 19th century it was Frédéric Chopin in particular who wrote music primarily for the piano. In the second half it was composers such as Franz Liszt , Sergei Rachmaninow , Anton Rubinstein , Ignacy Jan Paderewski and other composers of the romantic repertoire who distinguished themselves in piano music, often with the main aim of primarily performing their own musical compositions on the stage as pianists To bring performance.
At the beginning of the twentieth century the composer-interpreter took a back seat; the activities of composition on the one hand and performing, interpreting on the other were separated. There were both modern composers such as Béla Bartók and Ferruccio Busoni in the segment of so-called "serious music" and in the field of "popular music", entertaining, popular music, especially the developments in the US , like the blues , the ragtime , the boogie woogie and the jazz with composers like Scott Joplin , Jelly Roll Morton , Albert Ammons and George Gershwin , who gave the piano music great impulses.
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