Piano, Pianoforte or Harpsichord

Piano, Pianoforte or Harpsichord

Have you ever looked at the history of a piano? You’ll find a variety of keyboard instruments listed throughout time. But are they all related to the piano?

The harpsichord was a very popular instrument in the 18th century. While a piano uses hammers and dampers to strike the strings and create a sound, a harpsichord performs the function differently. When the keys on a harpsichord are depressed, the strings are plucked rather than struck. Therefore the sound produced will be different than what you hear from a piano.Piano, Pianoforte or Harpsichord

Today, if you purchase a spinet piano, you are purchasing a small harpsichord. Spinets have only one string per note. Because they are smaller, they will have less volume, less harmonics, less sound than a more traditional harpsichord or its piano counterpart.

With the popularity of the harpsichord in the 1700s, changes quickly followed in an attempt to make them even better. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the pianoforte was invented in the early 1700s by artist Bartolomeo Cristofori. He was charged with caring for the harpsichords belonging to the Florentine court of Grand Prince Ferdinando de Medici. While maintaining them and attempting to make them better, he designed a harpsichord with loud and soft capabilities, which eventually came to be known as a pianoforte.

This invention mirrored today’s pianos, a harpsichord with hammers and dampers, two keyboards and a four range octave. They were highly complex instruments that were also very expensive to produce. Over time, pianofortes were reinvented, reincorporated, and redesigned, eventually becoming what we today call the piano.

You will sometimes find pianofortes also described as an antique. In reality, not many pianofortes survive.

Today’s pianos provide a rich sound quality that we’ve come to know and love. Are we still reinventing and redesigning? Yes, all the time. We’re moving into the digital world. Many are relying equally on acoustic and digital pianos to create the desired sounds.

Stop by today to see our entire line of acoustic and digital pianos.

The History Of The Piano

The History Of The Piano

Pianos today are one of the most popular instruments and are widely played throughout the world. But how did this instrument get its start to grow to such popularity today?

Stringed instruments date back to the ancient world. The earliest types were created by attaching strings to gourds, boxes, and other similar items. People would then pluck the strings to make music. These simple instruments steadily grew more complex, and in 14th and 15th century Europe, people added keys to their instruments to play them. During this time period, the harpsichord and clavichord were invented. These were instruments that were similar to pianos but with some significant differences that limited how effective they were. The harpsichord’s playing volume couldn’t be varied, which made it less expressive. The clavichord on the other hand was more expressive, but it was too quiet.The History of the Piano

The earliest version of the modern piano was invented in the early 1700s in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori. Originally called the pianoforte, this new instrument solved the problems of the harpsichord and the clavichord. Its volume was controllable, and it was loud enough for large performances. These early pianos were fairly similar to today’s pianos. However, they were smaller and lighter- one of Cristofori’s models weighed about six times less than an instrument made today.

The first half of the 19th century brought about the Industrial Revolution, which changed many aspects of life in the western world. The piano too underwent changes during this time, transforming it into the instrument that it is today. For one, changes in the metal industry allowed people to produce higher-quality piano wire, which gave the instrument the more powerful sound that’s heard today. As well, it allowed for the piano to be made with a stronger iron frame. Other innovations that changed the piano into what it is today include using felt hammers instead of leather or cotton ones, reversing the colors of the piano keys from black to white, and increasing the tonal range of the pianos from five octaves to seven, which allowed for more complex music.

Music around the world would not be the same without the piano and all of its changes throughout the years. Whether you’ve been playing since you were a child, or  “learning the piano” has been on your bucket for years, there is a perfect piano solution for you – just give us a call and we would be glad to help you put piano music into your life.