Download (direct link):
J' Upright piano (see Figure 1-2): These relatively small instruments sit upright against your living room wall.
s Baby grand piano: The offspring of the first two types of piano — kidding! This is simply a smaller version of the grand.
You can hear the marvelous sounds of a piano on Track 1 of the CD First, you hear an excerpt from Erik Satie’s classical work “Three Gymnopedies,” followed by a sampling of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag.”
Part I: Warming Up to the Keyboard
Upright, not uptight.
Thousands of pieces have been written for piano. For a small sampling of various piano styles, check out the following recordings:
J' Alan Feinberg, Fascinatin ’ Rhythm (Argo)
J1 Dave Grusin, The Firm - Soundtrack (MCA/GRP)
J1 Franz Schubert, Piano Sonata in A minor, Alfred Brendel (Philips)
J1 George Winston, December (Windham Hill)
The grand piano has an enormous lid that you can prop open with a stick that comes with the piano. By propping open the lid, you can see lots of metal strings and other components, maybe even those car keys that you misplaced last month.
Because the sound of a piano comes from the strings inside the instrument, you get a louder and more resonant sound when you leave the lid of a grand piano open.
Chapter 1: Meeting the Keyboard Family
The keyboard: Master of all instruments
Many people regard keyboards as music's most versatile instruments. I can back up this big, broad (and slightly biased (statementwith some facts:
S They are capable of a great range of volume — from very soft to very loud.
S They can sound more than one note at a time.
S They are toned, or pitched, instruments (capable of producing different musical notes, compared to unpitched drums and cymbals).
S They have the widest pitch range of any instrument from very low to very high.
S They can be played as solo or accompaniment instruments.
S They're capable of playing by themselves.
Sure, your neighbor can (unfortunately) play his clarinet very loud to very soft, but he can only play one note at a time. Your friend with the violin can play two or three notes at once, but she can only play half the notes a keyboard can play. And, yes, the Pearl Jam concert on Friday night did feature a drum solo, but was it very hummable?
The upright piano also has a lid — and some even have a stick to prop it open — but only piano tuners actually use the stick to help them keep the lid open while they tune the strings. Because an upright’s sound is not dramatically changed by opening the lid, you can instead try pulling the piano away from the wall a bit to make the sound less muffled.
In the grand piano, the strings are horizontal; in the upright, the strings are vertical. The strings must be set diagonally — with the treble strings crossing the bass strings — to fit in the smaller upright case.
The difference in the string layout affects the resulting sound of the two pianos in the following ways:
S The strings in an upright are perpendicular to the ground, thus the sound travels close to the ground.
S The strings in a grand piano are parallel to the ground, thus the sound travels upward from the ground and fills the room.
S The strings in an upright are mostly behind wood casing that can’t be opened, causing a more muffled sound.
S The strings in a grand are directly under a lid that can be opened to allow a more resonant sound.
Part I: Warming Up to the Keyboard
Keys and hammers
Most acoustic pianos today have a row of 88 black and white keys. If you have 87, 89, or 32, you may have been cheated! Each of the 88 keys is connected to a small, felt-covered hammer, the mechanism that plays the string, shown in Figure 1-3. Press a key and the correct hammer strikes a string, or set of strings, tuned to the appropriate musical note.
Hammering out your ideas.
Or Bart needed more volume
Contrary to popular belief, the inventor of the piano was not named Steinway, nor was it Alec, Billy, Steve, or any other famous Baldwin brother. No, the piano was invented by an 18th-century Italian harpsichord-maker named Bartolommeo Cristofori (1655-1731).
It seems that one day in 1709, after a long day polishing his umpteenth harpsichord, Mr. Cristofori thought to himself, "Hmm, instead of each key causing a string to be plucked, what if each key caused a string to be struck?" Rather poetic, don't you think? (I'm paraphrasing, of course, because I wasn't there, and I don't know Italian.)
Not one to sit still for long, ol' Bart quickly set out to expand his business with the new hammered harpsichord. The marketing pitch? Unlike a harpsichord, which played the same volume no matter how darn hard you hit the keys, the new instrument would play all volume
levels. Thus, the new invention was christened pianoforte, which is Italian for "soft loud."
Why the name dropped forte over the years is probably about as exciting and informative as why you shorten Robert to Bob. Suffice it to say that 18th-century Italians were pretty trendy. Heck, why say a five syllable word when three syllables will do?