- 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
- 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.