Sunset in the sky never always comes with disappointment of shadow and darkness; instead, it also brings a new color of shadow in which moon brightens and stars shine. Same is the thing that happens with our life, where the later phase is not always monotonous but also sometimes flourishes the real ‘our self’ hidden within us. Don’t get confused dear readers! Here I wish to talk about the second inning or later phase of our best buddy, i.e. ‘Piano’.
We already have learned about who invented the piano in our article amazing undiscovered facts about the history of piano, its chronological order in the article you do not know this chronology of piano and of course the whole era of journey of piano history. Enough about Piano’s young age! Now let us move towards the second phase or say adult age of Piano, where it grew in so many new colors along with a huge transformation not only in its appearance (including size, shape and material) but also in its inner mechanism.
Piano’s Life at the Age of its 40’s
The age of 40 is often considered as the age of preparation for retirement. But our grand master piano does not believe in it! At the end of 18th century, a large transformation came across the whole journey of . Romanticism increased the love for music, arts and emotions in the air of that time making piano a must-have instrument for every household.
The Mozart era piano got tremendous change within it, which resulted into a more sharper and modern instrument. The reason behind that was musicians were demanding more powerful and sustaining piano sound. However, until the end of 1800s, no mechanical or structural change could be established in Cristofori’s invention. After a long wait and hard work, in the year 1821, a Parisian, named Sebastian Erard came with a revolution in the structure of piano by inventing the ‘double escapement’, which we may call repetition mechanism too. It was only in this time became possible for a hammer to strike the string once again before the key can return to its original place by making rapid repetition possible.
Franz Liszt was one such composer of that time, who was constantly in favor of more expressive and louder sound piano as he was a part of Romantic Movement in composition. Emergence of large concert halls resulted in demand of huge orchestras including heavier pianos and instruments. To fulfill the demand of pianists, makers of piano added iron bars to the wooden timbers of the cases making the whole structure heavier and stronger.
Journey From Wood to Iron
The journey of piano history never stopped with its wooden structure but improved its mechanism with growing moments of history and turned into iron cage from wooden. First change came in 1802 when strings were stretched diagonally in a sound box creating richer dynamics. This resulted in a huge sound. Broadwood, a Scottish joiner and piano maker invented its first square-shaped piano in 1771. Broadwood worked for refining the instrument in a better way and invented the metal frame in the Journey of piano history in 1815. Sebastian Erard, a French instrument maker, came with double hopper and thicker strings in the year 1822. He was the first maker in Paris to set pedals on Piano, whose instrument had a number of pedals in it.
Jonas Chickering, a piano maker from Boston, Massachusetts, opened his Piano company in 1823 and developed Babcock’s piano by preparing full iron frame for the grand piano.
In the year of 1825, an American Piano maker Alpheus Babcock confirmed a patent on his name for his one of historical invention of piano, i.e. full cast iron plate for square shape piano by removing string tensions from the case of wood. Appleton, Hayt & Babock was another American piano company, who increased the speed of innovations in Piano mechanism. Sizes of piano moved from small, light rectangular boxes to wing-shaped, upright and square area with heavy body.
Henry Pape invented leather frame on hammers in 1826. In 1842, he increased the range of piano from six octaves to eight octaves. It should be noted here that Beethoven’s Streicher Piano had only six and half octaves. This shows the new refinement in the piano era.
Innovations and Science
Constant hunger of innovations and science led the journey of piano history to more responsive and balanced improvement to the touch of keyboards. Double hopper is considered as one of the greatest innovations in the Journey of piano history. This innovation led to rapid repetition of notes and better dynamics control. Actual and original features of modern times originally established in 1859, when first time Steinway concert grand piano appeared. It was equipped with 88 keys and strength of producing rich sound that we enjoy today. Steinway company was the first producer of overstrung piano, who created the modern touch in piano making that we see today.
At last, piano became household for almost all middle-class families, as the prices reduced and factories of piano making flourished between 1850 to 1909. In 1886, the annual piano production in France was around 20,000, in America it was 25,000 and in England the number was 35,000 along with the Germans claimed the highest figure as 73,000!
1892 was the year, when Zender’s Piano Company get started. Sydney Zender was so enthusiastic for making of piano that he kept making pianos during World War I also. He used iron for the strings because there was a shortage of steel in war. During World War II, he survived by selling his reconditioned pianos.
Migration from Soft Keys to Digital Keyboard
The heyday of piano was on the pick and the sun of success was shining brightly during the end of 19th century. Further development came in the journey of piano history, when The Player piano was invented in the Journey of piano history. It became popular in 1890 but its sale reached to its peak in 1924. The player piano is an automatic playing piano, which had a pneumatic or electro-mechanical mechanism. It contained notes on paper rolls or in some rare cases, metallic roles. This device was capable of recording the notes to play along with the all aspects of expressions of the performance.
Often called as “reproducing piano”, this device became very popular in that generation. As it was a marvelous idea for the piano artists to record their performances and for householders to get the company of music while dining together. One thing that must be kept in mind. And that is that this player piano were different from digital pianos that became famous later on. The player piano used to take clues from floppy disks or say specially made and formatted Compact Discs or internal memory. These pianos were used from household parties music to grand concert performances. Just to play and record and repeat the same music with same accuracy and thrilling effects.
The Digital Piano
Now I would like to take a quantum jump in the Journey of piano history. And will take you to the new era of digital device. Digital piano, born in the late 1980s, is a miniature form of original acoustic piano. Made with the intention of providing the people a very accurate sound system of the original piano. It is also known as piano synthesizer or weighted keyboard. This device should not be confused with the electric piano or electronic piano. They became popular among the middle class for one reason, i.e. its comparative low price.
You can easily go to any electrical shop and purchase it in no time. It also had very limited and small area of size along with all modern features in it. Such pianos were electronic and therefore its volume and sound could be controlled. Using a volume control switch as per the necessity of louder or slower volume. It did not need to be tuned and its tuning also could be modified as per our choice.
It also had facilities to attach with not only computer but also with other instruments to create orchestras. By attaching it with computer and internet. The pianist can find any tune or notes from internet and save it to his personal piano.
Flourishing New Era
Finally, we have entered into the glorious last phase of Journey of piano history. Where Software technology is Hero of our movie and keyboard is the heroine. Both of them together play most outstanding romance in the life of whole history of piano.
This is such a great invention that not only converts music files into sheet music. But also downloads and unzips music files along with Karaoke files from live internet connections. It also allows pianist to print whole musical scores analyze its chord names and harmony. You also can put a disc in this piano and record a CD of songs or lyrics. That you have either written or played earlier. You can immediately play the CD in your PC. Here you can also record or burn vocals to produce a 16 track studio quality demo song. Nice for to listen your friends and for yourself.
Last But Not Least
Music has neither typical form nor any color. Whether it is gorgeous hard acoustic concert piano founded by Cristofori or it is the child of Software technology. It plays the same melody of love and emotions filled with the cheese of variations in its features. However, ultimately it satisfies our hunger of music. That is the power of Music!