The Evolution of the Piano

How the design of the piano has changed over time
The Evolution of the Piano


Pianos are known for being the most played instrument in the world, although, many do not know the long history of the piano and how it has become what it is today. The piano has evolved from a variety of keyboard instruments including the clavichord, harpsichord, and the fortepiano, which have led to the modern piano.

The clavichord was invented in the 14th century and was widely used in the Baroque era. The clavichord produced sound by virating srings using a brass rod called the tangent. However, the clavichord only has a limited range of keys and dynamics. Clavichords were not loud enough for concerts, but they were still enjoyable to listen to at home.

The harpsichord, invented in the 15th century works by pressing a key which causes a wedge shaped piece called the plectrum attatched to a piece of wood called the jack to pluck a string creating sound. Unlike the clavichord, the harpsichord has two keyboards. The harpsichord was also louder and had a bigger range of notes compared to the clavichord. The harpsichord became a widely known instrument during the Renaissance and Classical period.

music note on brown pianoCristiford invented the fortepiano in the 18th century. The fortepiano, meaning loud and soft, had a wider dynamic range compared to the harpsichord by using blocks of wood called hammers to virate the stings rather than plucking. Numerous versions of the fortepiano were made which eventually lead to the invention of the modern piano we know today. The modern piano has an even wider dynamic and key range.

The piano we know of today has changed over time and has a intricate and complex history. From the clavichord, harpsichord, to the pianoforte, different versions of keyboards lead to the creation of the well-know instrument that is played all around the globe.

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