Allegro Piano Pages


Piano Trivia:
Fun Facts to Know and Tell

Keith T. Comparetto,
Piano Tuner-Technician
 
  • The piano is both a stringed instrument (having strings) and a percussion instrument (producing its sound by striking a hammer against a string.)
  • The term “piano” is the Italian word for “soft,” so named because the piano, unlike its predecessor the harpsichord, could produce a louder or softer tone depending on how hard the performer struck the key. In fact, the piano‘s full name is actually “piano-forte,” or “soft-loud.
  • The piano has the broadest dynamic (volume) range of any instrument, as well as the widest tonal range. It also allows more notes to be played at one time than any other standard instrument.
  • The standard piano has 88 notes. (Some models have 85, and a few makers have even produced 64-note models.) Generally, the first 10 or 12 notes have one string each; the next 20 or so have two strings each (tuned to the same pitch); and the remainder have three strings each — making a grand total of over 200 strings.
  • The bass strings of a piano (lower notes) actually cross over top of the treble strings. This is called over-stringing or cross-stringing, and serves the purpose, among other things, of allowing longer bass strings (thus better sound) in a shorter piano.
  • Piano strings are pulled to an average tension of around 200 pounds. Each piano has over 200 strings; thus, the total string tension of the average piano is around 40,000 pounds, or 20 tons.
  • The typical grand piano may have 10,000 or more parts (depending on how you count).
  • The piano’s design, for the most part, has not changed for nearly 100 years, making it one of the most stable technologies in modern times.
  • Most of the earliest piano makers came to the United States during the 19th century from Europe (especially from Germany and England)
  • It was in America, not Europe, that piano building first advanced from being a slow handcraft to being an industry that was the standard and envy of the world.

    
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