All About the Piano

Female pianist playing grand piano at concert hall stage,aerial view
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The Piano (also known as the pianoforte or klavier in German) is a member of the keyboard family; based on the Sachs-Hornbostel System, the piano is a chordophone.

How to Play the Piano

A piano is played by pressing the keys with the fingers of both hands. The standard piano of today has 88 keys, the three foot pedals also have specific functions. The pedal on the right is called a damper, stepping on this causes all the keys to vibrate or sustain. Stepping on the pedal in the middle causes only the keys currently pressed to vibrate. Stepping on the pedal on the left creates a muted sound; a single note is produced from 2 or three piano strings that are tuned in unison.​

Types of Pianos

There are two types of pianos and each varies in form and size:

  • Vertical/Upright Pianos - Includes Full Size, Professional Upright, Console and Spinet.
  • Horizontal/Grand Pianos - Includes Concert, Living Room, Parlor and Baby Grand to name a few.​

The First Known Pianos

Bartolomeo Cristofori created the gravecembalo col piano e forte around 1709 in Florence. By 1726, changes in Cristofori's early invention became the basis of the modern piano. The piano became very popular in the mid-18th century and was used in chamber music, concerti, salon music and in song accompaniments. The upright piano was favored by 1860.

Famous Pianists

Well-known pianists in history include:

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Franz Liszt
  • Frederick Chopin
  • Clara Wieck Schumann
  • Sergey Rachmaninoff
  • Witold Lutoslawski
  • Béla Bartók
  • Scott Joplin
  • Igor Stravinsky
  • Robert Schumann
  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

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