10 Could 2021, 16:57
A typical piano has 88 keys: 52 white and 36 black. However who determined this quantity could be the norm, and why?
Earlier than the piano was invented, composers wrote loads of music for the harpsichord, which has simply 60 keys. This meant that every thing they wrote was restricted to the harpsichord’s five-octave vary.
Then, the primary piano was invented.
Across the 12 months 1700, Bartolomeo Cristofori, a musical instrument technician from Padua, Italy, determined it was time to replace the harpsichord – and he got here up with a brand new keyboard instrument with a hammer mechanism.
Cristofori was employed by the Florentine court docket of Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici in 1688 to take care of their harpsichords and, ultimately, different devices.
A 1700 stock of Medici devices mentions an ‘arpicimbalo’ (lit. an instrument resembling a harpsichord) invented by Cristofori. The instrument had a brand-new hammer and damper mechanism, two keyboards and a spread of 4 octaves (49 keys).
Poet and journalist Scipione Maffei described it in 1711 as a ‘gravicembalo col piano, e forte’ (harpsichord with quiet and loud). It was right here that the ‘pianoforte’ discovered its title.
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Composers needed to broaden the vary of their music
After phrase acquired out of Cristofori’s miraculous musical invention, composers began writing increasingly music for the piano.
However the instrument’s four-octave vary was limiting. So, piano producers designed new pianos with extra keys, in order that composers like Haydn and Mozart might write more difficult materials for a fuller keyboard.
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By the point Romantic composers like Chopin and Liszt have been writing music within the mid-1800s, pianos had as much as seven octaves, permitting them to compose items with an much more formidable vary just like the bafflingly virtuosic ‘La Campanella’.
Steinway created the 88-key piano
Within the late Eighties, piano producer Steinway created the 88-key piano. Different producers adopted swimsuit, and Steinway’s mannequin has been the usual ever since.
An 88-key piano has seven octaves plus three decrease notes (B, B flat and A) under the underside C.
It has 52 white keys and 36 black keys (sharps and flats), with every octave made up of seven white keys and 5 black keys.
Why did piano producers cease at 88 keys?
Right now’s composers normally write piano music that matches inside the vary of an 88-key mannequin. Most piano makers additionally settle for this because the restrict, as a result of something outdoors is taken into account too excessive or low for the human ear.
However there are a couple of exceptions. Stuart and Sons set a world document in 2018 after they created a nine-octave piano, with 108 keys.
Bösendorfer sells 97-key pianos, whose 9 further keys are colored black so the pianist can distinguish them from the usual 88. The keys are hardly ever used, however the further bass strings add harmonic resonance that contributes to the wealthy, total sound of the instrument.
Right here’s an thought of how they appear on the relatively grand Bösendorfer semi-concert grand piano, which has an additional 4 keys: