All during September, we take time to honor everything piano. It’s National Piano Month! The entire month pays tribute to pianists everywhere, piano makers, and those who enjoy piano music.
Bartolomeo Cristofori is given credit for inventing the first piano in Padua, Italy, around 1700. At the time, Cristofori’s employment with the Florentine Court of the Grand Prince Ferdinando de Medici put him in charge of a large collection of the Prince’s musical instruments, including his harpsichords. During this time, Cristofori’s interest in stringed instruments led him to the early development of the piano. Cristofori’s early piano designs were a testament to technological innovations in keyboard instruments of the times. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, composers and pianists like Mozart found a passion and eagerness for a more powerful and sustainable piano sound. As expected, the piano underwent tremendous changes during the 1790s to the 1860s, leading to the modern form of the piano.
Piano experts and enthusiasts identify four basic types of pianos–the Spinet, Console, Studio, and Grande. The Spinet piano is the smallest of all piano types, while the Grande is the largest. Though all pianos are upright pianos, piano experts agree each piano style has its own distinct and identifiable sound.
The Spinet piano is the smallest of all pianos. Spinet pianos have a large number of working parts and are characterized as being dropped action pianos. Dropped action refers to the hammer-like striking action to strike the keys. Similar to its relative, the Console piano is closest to the Spinet piano in size. Furthermore, pianists use the same to play the Spinet piano as they do for the Console piano.
Studio pianos are taller than both the Spinet and Console pianos, respectively. The Studio piano also offers a richer tone than the two. However, the Studio piano has a different feel in comparison to a Spinet or Console piano. Finally, Grande pianos are the tallest and largest of all pianos. Like Studio pianos, Grande pianos are full of rich sounds carried carefully within the keys to emit a beautiful sound. In addition, Grande pianos are known to be the most beautiful and durable of all four pianos. Notably, when properly cared for, Grande pianos will last generations, making them a timeless heirloom.
Other types of pianos found today are more specialized and fall into their own category. Furthermore, pianists commonly use these types of pianos in contemporary music. Electric pianos are electro-mechanical designs, and the synthesized piano-like tones use oscillators and digital samples of acoustic piano sounds.
My husband is a professional musician. While we cannot fit a piano in our living room, his Yamaha is not the kind of keyboard you find in a big box or even lots of music stores. He still performs in local venues. While it looks like a piano and indeed sounds like it, he tickles, jazz, soul, big band, and easy listening out of it with years of knowledge and practice.
NATIONAL PIANO MONTH HISTORY
We give credit to Bartolomeo Cristofori as the inventor of the first piano in Padua, Italy, around 1700. If it wasn’t for his interest in stringed instruments, Cristofori might not have developed the piano we know today. Because of him, the piano has undergone tremendous changes leading to the modern form of the piano.
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HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalPianoMonth
National Piano Month offers ample opportunity to play, listen and learn about the piano. Attend a concert. Listen to a variety of genres with piano as the primary instrument. Develop your piano-playing skills or teach someone else to play. Sign up for lessons. Share your favorite piano music with others.
Use #NationalPianoMonth to share the month on social media.