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Bach to Rock
What knowledge do you have about your instrument?
1. History/Origin/Usage/Development of your instrument.
2. Major Artists and Recordings.
3. Instrument care and maintenance.
4. Quality, types, mouthpiece choice, reeds, strings and additional features.
1. The first keyboard instrument was the dulcimer which originated from traditional Persian music. Later, the clavichord and the harpsichord were invented. The clavichord struck its strings with tangents, while the harpsichord plucked its strings with what were called quills. The construction of the case, soundboard, keyboard, and bridge were all quite well developed, but the piano with its mcuh larger range of dynamics had not been invented. There were a few distinct problems that had to be solved - how to keep the hammer from resting on the string and dampening it and how to get it so that the hammer would return to place fast enough to play rapidly but not so violently as to bounce. The master harpsichord maker Bartolomeo Cristofori is accredited with the invention of the piano somewhere around 1700, with his hammer action solving the problems above. The piano was essentially unknown until Scipione Maffei wrote an enthustiastic article about the instrument. Soon, more and more people were creating pianos, thus spreading its popularity. This popularity kept spreading, and more composers started writing for the piano, and it became what it is today.
2. The piano is such a prolific instrument that it is difficult to pick out major "artists" and recordings of songs, since millions of which exist. As far as composers go, there are innumerable prolific ones, but some of the most common are Mozart, Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin, Liszt, Bach, Hyden, and Handel, among others. In the last century, some of the most famous classical performers have been Glen Gould, Arthur Rubinstein, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Myra Hess, Alfred Cortot, Vladimir Horowitz, and Evgenny Kissin, among many others.
Popular music rarely has piano as a front-featured instrument, and when it does, it is only in a few songs, with the guitar playing the most critical role in instrumentation in most bands. Some artists like Ben Folds have deviated from this norm though and had piano as their featured instrument. Another keyboardist who has been rather prolific in modern pop music is Ray Manzarek who was the keyboardist for The Doors. Most of the time, though, keyboard is not the featured instrument and thus few pianists in pop music have distinguished themselves relative to the amount of music that is available.
3. Without proper care and maintenance, a piano can quickly become damaged. Tuning is one of the most important parts of piano maintenance, as even a slightly out of tune piano loses its "brilliance" of sound. Generally, a piano needs to be tuned about once every six months. Things that can contribute to the piano going out of tune and eventual damage to the soundboard and other wooden parts are humidity and temperature. Controlling the humidity and temperture a piano is exposed to helps protect the parts of a piano and keep it in tune.
Another aspect of piano maintenance is voicing. From the hammers striking the strings, grooves are worn into the felt on the hammer. This hardens the hammer and produces a much brighter sound, often becoming harsh. By using revoicing needles a piano technicians can make these soft again. Once the grooves are deep enough, the felt must be filed away to create a new pristine point of contact. After multiple filings, the hammer will eventually become too small and will have to be replaced.
Things that the owner can do to protect and maintain the piano are to regulate humidity, keep liquids and other contaminants away from the piano, and keeping the piano lid closed and the surfaces of the piano clean.
Semiconcert or Ballroom Grand
Mason & Hamlin
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