The amazing evolution of THE PIANO

The piano, back then

Older pianosIn 1700, Bartolomeo Christfori invented the first piano. There was great excitement at its launch because people were now seeing a ‘no hold’, ‘no blow’ instrument like the flute or horn. It had a great sound, and could be used with ten fingers playing separately or in chords.

The design and operation were upgrades from the harpsichord and clavichord which were similar in operation, but because of some technical improvements, a pianist could be more expressive in their delivery on this touch sensitive instrument.

 The design

piano stylePianos came in all shapes and forms and older photos will show upright, square, and later, grand pianos. The furniture that housed the parts in perfect order, was made of durable wood and many designers used different shades and stains to make their brand attractive.

How long did it last?

It is interesting to note that the same piano with hammers on the inside, ivory notes, 88 keys has remained the same for over 300 years. Fingering and practice methods have also remained unchanged and children, and adults alike, have studied piano, mostly with a coach one-on-one. Then, as now, the instrument was maintained by regular tuning or , if it became really old, some carpentry by a well- trained piano tuner.

Then came the electric piano !!

In about 1920, the world came to know the electric piano. There were metallic parts producing signals which were amplified to provide sound at different volume levels, but these parts had to have some careful mechanical moving around in sync, to give new sounds that became popular around that time.

About 50 years later, the electronic piano became popular. It resembled the regular piano and came with a variety of features, it had built-in tuning, and the lack of the mechanical operations made it lighter and easier to transport from place to place . Even more convenient, keyboards could be designed with less octaves.

The excitement of these instruments was mostly in their ability to mimic the sound of almost all other instruments, and to provide one-touch percussion or instrumental accompaniment. All these features tend to enhance the piano learningexperience even on toy pianos. The modern piano student can use video lessons and drum tracks to make tutorials more interesting. synthesizer

There are so many brands available now for purchase. Some of the popular ones are: Yamaha, Alesis, Korg, Casio, Kawaii. Every now and then a new model is introduced to the piano-loving public, and some people who cannot play, buy them and have them standing in a corner in the house, to be admired only.

Is your piano a computer ?

Good question. The answer is “Yes “. The developments in technolgy have been used by designers of piano keyboards. There is software that facilitates the work of composers and provides a huge variety of options for the stage performer. “Cut”, “Paste”, “Splice”, “Loop” are terms used in operating these modern day dream gadgets. We are now in a world where studio work can be right in your own house.

My greatest thrill was my first recording of a song written by someone in France, with drum tracks added by someone in the US, and my piano playing and adding of strings and flute from Jamaica. It was mixed and mastered in Germany and released, without any physical meeting of the musicians on the song.

So, what is next ?

The form and operation of the piano stayed the same for so long but has changed so much about music in the last 50 years. I cannot even imagine what a piano will be like 50 years from now. Can you ?

Let have your thoughts on this, in the comments section.

 

For further discussion, visit https://www.mypianohobby.com/

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16 Comments

  1. Strahinja

    Hello there.

    I really enjoyed your article. I would like to say that onw of my favourite classical music pieces are Chopins –
    Grande Valse Brilliante and Clair de Lune by Debussy.

    Never played the piano myself but i got a sister that is music teacher and holds a piano lessons. I really think that possibilites are unlimited now that we have a computer and electronic music.

    Anyone can play piano now from the comfort of their home 🙂

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Strahinja,

      You are so right. Possibilities are unlimited and everyone, if they have the patience, can learn to play. Those classical pieces you mentioned are also favourites of mine. I grew up on classical music. Thank you for your comments. Best wishes !!!

      Reply
  2. Kegan

    Fantastic. I’m personally a singer and do also play guitar – I wasn’t aware of the evolution of the piano in quite the way you’ve shown here. It’s amazing that the electric piano was around in the 20’s, I would have thought that electric pianos came about in the 80’s.

    Do you think it is better to learn on an electric piano, or an acoustic piano?

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Kegan, The electric piano came in the early years as an instrument with moving parts. It evolved into the piano we now know as electronic…no moving parts, lighter. As a personal choice, I prefer learning on an acoustic piano because of the touch sensitive nature, and the ease of adjustment to any other piano type instrument. Thank you for your comments. Best wishes !

      Reply
  3. Sebastian

    Very interesting article, thank you!

    I like the use of photos, which kept me engaged in your article. It’s interesting to hear about ‘the piano’ 

    I play music myself, including the piano, so it was very interesting!

    Great job, I will definitely look around your website for more 🙂

    What piano do you use?

    All the best

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      You are welcome Sebastian. My favourite brands are Yamaha, Korg and Roland. Maybe you need to invest in one.

      Reply
  4. Tolu

    Good read. It is nice knowing how the piano evolved from the first piano to the electric piano and to the computer piano. Sincerely, I’m fascinated by the working of the computer piano; how you were able to do your first recording with input from different people from different parts of the world.  I would love to learn how to play the piano. Which brand/make would you recommend? I have seen the Yamaha, and we have the Korg in my assembly. 

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Tolu. Using any good software, Pro Tools, Logic, Reason, connection to my keyboard allows me to record my instrument and, working with the different parameters, edit for tempo, pitch, velocity, volume etc. I then save the file as a wave file or mp3 and send it as an attachment to someone far away. There they can mix, add, master to get a recording. My favourite brands are Korg, Yamaha and Roland full length with 88 keys. Thank you for your comments.

      Reply
  5. Destiny

    I love the rhythmical sound, I use to be a trumpeter but I switched to the piano, I enjoy it much more especially when I’m alone with my thoughts. I wasn’t aware of the evolution of piano in quite the way you’ve shown here and even a  software that facilitates the work of composers and provides a huge variety of options for the stage performer. Thanks to technology, now studio work can be right in your own house, and I wonder what the piano will be like 20 years from now.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Ah Destiny. It leaves us all wondering. Technology really puts us in a good place for music production. We wonder what next. I think that while the electronic keyboard makes some things easy for us, there is something very special about the sound and the soul that comes from an acoustic piano. Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  6. Kenechi

    Piano is really a great computer and it has been one of my utmost passion to perfect on how to play piano very well. The evolution of piano is quite an interesting one and I enjoyed it as a lover of music and musical instruments. I am self convinced that in the next 50years to come, piano is going to evolve crazily and music can be recorded directly in a piano while playing the piano and even the editing could be done inside the same piano. It’s evolution in the next 50years might even exceed my present imaginations.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Kenechi, we won’t have to wait 50 years. I record and edit from my electronic keyboards, and this has been happening for many years. I agree as time passes we cannot even imagine what next! We’ll just wait and see. Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  7. Seun Afotanju

    Thanks for this informative and interesting article, I am a lover of instruments guitar, piano, violin and the rest but my best is the keyboard for a long time now and it feels good to finally know the origination of this wonderful instruments played by many. Thanks for putting this out there. 

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Hi Seun, you are welcome. Many people see and know a few things about the piano but don’t know the evolution. Glad you liked it.

      Reply
  8. Chris

    You have a very interesting article Joy. I like how you go into the history of the piano and leave your audience thinking about what  a piano will look like in 50 years. The pictures you choose are a very good quality and elegant. Your article is written very professionally as well as the look of your site. I would say just keep on doing what you are doing because you have a great looking site.

    Reply
    1. Joy (Post author)

      Thank you Chris. Hope you gained some further understanding as I intended.

      Reply

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