More rarely, some pianos have additional keys (which require additional strings). There are two main types of piano: the grand piano and the upright piano. With technological advances, amplified electric pianos (1929), electronic pianos (1970s), and digital pianos (1980s) have also been developed. The piano was founded on earlier technological innovations in keyboard instruments. Cristofori named the instrument un cimbalo di cipresso di piano Cristofori's piano action was a model for the many approaches to piano actions that followed in the next century. Instrument: piano et forte genandt"–a reference to the instrument's ability to play soft and loud–Some of these Viennese pianos had the opposite coloring of modern-day pianos; the natural keys were black and the accidental keys white. Comparison of piano sound
19th century piano sound
Frédéric Chopin's Étude Op. Modern piano sound
The same piece, on a modern piano
Some piano makers developed schemes to enhance the tone of each note. Giraffe pianos", "pyramid pianos" and "lyre pianos" were arranged in a somewhat similar fashion, using evocatively shaped cases. Modern acoustic pianos have two basic configurations, the grand piano and the upright piano, with various styles of each. There are also specialized and novelty pianos, electric pianos based on electromechanical designs, electronic pianos that synthesize piano-like tones using oscillators, and digital pianos using digital samples of acoustic piano sounds.
In grand pianos the frame and strings are horizontal, with the strings extending away from the keyboard. There are many sizes of grand piano. Pianos with shorter and thicker string (i.e., small pianos with short string scales) have more inharmonicity. Upright pianos, also called vertical pianos, are more compact because the frame and strings are vertical. Upright pianos are generally less expensive than grand pianos. Upright pianos with unusually tall frames and long strings are sometimes called upright grand pianos. Anything taller than a studio piano is called an upright.
The toy piano, introduced in the 19th century, is a small piano-like instrument, that generally uses round metal rods to produce sound, rather than strings. In 1863, Henri Fourneaux invented the player piano, which plays itself from a piano roll. A silent piano is an acoustic piano having an option to silence the strings by means of an interposing hammer bar. Edward Ryley invented the transposing piano in 1801. Electronic pianos are non-acoustic; they do not have strings, tines or hammers, but are a type of synthesizer that simulates or imitates piano sounds using oscillators and filters that synthesize the sound of an acoustic piano. Digital pianos are also non-acoustic and do not have strings or hammers. They use digital sampling technology to reproduce the acoustic sound of each piano note accurately. In the 2000s, some pianos include an acoustic grand piano or upright piano combined with MIDI electronic features. Some electronic feature-equipped pianos such as the Yamaha Disklavier electronic player piano, introduced in 1987, are outfitted with electronic sensors for recording and electromechanical solenoids for player piano-style playback. Piano strings (also called piano wire), which must endure years of extreme tension and hard blows, are made of high carbon steel. Cheap pianos often have plywood soundboards.
Spruce is typically used in high-quality pianos. These pianos are true pianos with action and strings. Most grand pianos in the US have three pedals: Most modern upright pianos also have three pedals: soft pedal, practice pedal and sustain pedal, though older or cheaper models may lack the practice pedal. In Europe the standard for upright pianos is two pedals: the soft and the sustain pedals.
On grand pianos, the middle pedal is a sostenuto pedal. On many upright pianos, the middle pedal is called the "practice" or celeste pedal. The pedalier piano, or pedal piano, is a rare type of piano that includes a pedalboard so players can user their feet to play bass register notes, as on an organ. There are two types of pedal piano. The piano hammer is "thrown" against the strings. On the piano string, waves reflect from both ends. Aged and worn pianos can be rebuilt or reconditioned by piano rebuilders. Piano tuning involves adjusting the tensions of the piano's strings with a specialized wrench, thereby aligning the intervals among their tones so that the instrument is in tune. While guitar and violin players tune their own instruments, pianists usually hire a piano tuner, a specialized technician, to tune their pianos. The piano tuner uses special tools. Pianos are usually tuned to a modified version of the system called equal temperament (see Piano key frequencies for the theoretical piano tuning). Piano tuners have to use their ear to "stretch" the tuning of a piano to make it sound in tune. Piano technique evolved during the transition from harpsichord and clavichord to fortepiano playing, and continued through the development of the modern piano. Modern pianos were in wide use by the late 19th century. The popularity of ragtime music was quickly succeeded by Jazz piano. Most music classrooms and practice rooms have a piano. Pianos are used to help teach music theory, music history and music appreciation classes.
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