Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Grove Music Online. Grove is a registered trademark. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 17 October 2019

Pianoforte [piano]locked

  • Edwin M. Ripin,
  • Stewart Pollens,
  • Philip R. Belt,
  • Maribel Meisel,
  • Alfons Huber,
  • Michael Cole,
  • Gert Hecher,
  • Beryl Kenyon de Pascual,
  • Cynthia Adams Hoover,
  • Cyril Ehrlich,
  • Edwin M. Good,
  • Robert Winter
  •  and J. Bradford Robinson

Extract

[piano]

A keyboard instrument distinguished by the fact that its strings are struck by rebounding hammers rather than plucked (as in the harpsichord) or struck by tangents that remain in contact with the strings (as in the clavichord).

The present article treats the history and technique of the instrument; for discussion of the repertory see Keyboard music, §III. Additional information on the contributions of particular makers is given in their individual articles.

In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification of instruments the piano is reckoned as a box zither.

Edwin M. Ripin and Stewart Pollens

The piano has occupied a central place in professional and domestic music-making since the third quarter of the 18th century. In addition to the great capacities inherent in the keyboard itself – the ability to sound simultaneously at least as many notes as one has fingers and therefore to be able to produce an approximation of any work in the entire literature of Western music – the piano’s capability of playing notes at widely varying degrees of loudness in response to changes in the force with which the keys are struck, permitting crescendos and decrescendos and a natural dynamic shaping of a musical phrase, gave the instrument an enormous advantage over its predecessors, the clavichord and the harpsichord. (Although the clavichord was also capable of dynamic expression in response to changes in touch, its tone was too small to permit it to be used in ensemble music; the harpsichord, on the other hand, had a louder sound but was incapable of producing significant changes in loudness in response to changes in touch.) The capabilities later acquired of sustaining notes at will after the fingers had left the keys (by means of pedals) and of playing far more loudly than was possible on the harpsichord made this advantage even greater....

You do not currently have access to this article

Login

Please login to access the full content.

Subscribe

Please subscribe to access the full content.

Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association
Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Musical Quarterly
Early Music
Journal of Musicology
M.N. Clinkscale: Makers of the Piano
Music & Letters
Galpin Society Journal
Revista de musicología
C. Burney: A General History of Music from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period (London, 1776-89); ed. F. Mercer (London, 1935/R) [p. nos. refer to this edn]
D.H. Boalch: Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord 1440 to 1840
Mozart-Jahrbuch [Salzburg, 1950-]
Studien zur Musikwissenschaft
C. Burney: The Present State of Music in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Provinces (London, 1773, 2/1775)
Hinrichsen's Musical Year Book
C. Burney: The Present State of Music in France and Italy (London, 1771, 2/1773)
Allgemeine (deutsche) Musik-Zeitung/Musikzeitung (1874-1943)
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
Sammelbände der Internationalen Musik-Gesellschaft
19th Century Music
A. Lavignac and L. de La Laurencie, eds.: Encyclopédie de la musique et dictionnaire du Conservatoire