Portal:Piano

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A 19th-century grand piano

The piano is a musical instrument played using a keyboard. It is widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment and for composing and rehearsal. Although the piano is not portable and often expensive, its versatility and ubiquity have made it one of the world's most familiar musical instruments.

Pressing a key on the piano's keyboard causes a padded (often with felt) hammer to strike steel strings. The hammers rebound, and the strings continue to vibrate at their resonant frequency. These vibrations are transmitted through a bridge to a sounding board that more efficiently couples the acoustic energy to the air. The sound would otherwise be no louder than that directly produced by the strings. When the key is released, a damper stops the string's vibration and the sound. In the Hornbostel-Sachs system of instrument classification, pianos are considered chordophones.

The word piano is a shortened form of pianoforte (PF), the Italian word for the instrument (which in turn derives from the previous terms gravicembalo col piano e forte and fortepiano). The Italian musical terms piano and forte indicate "soft" and "strong" respectively, in this context referring to the variations in sound volume the instrument produces in response to a pianist's touch on the keys: the greater the velocity of a key press, the greater the force of the hammer hitting the strings, and the louder the sound of the note produced.


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Vladimir Horowitz

Vladimir Horowitz (October 1, 1903 – November 5, 1989) was a Russian-American classical virtuoso pianist and minor composer. His technique and use of tone color and the excitement of his playing were and remain legendary. He is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Despite rapturous receptions at recitals, Horowitz became increasingly unsure of his abilities as a pianist. On several occasions, the pianist had to be pushed onto the stage. Several times, he withdrew from public performances. After his comeback in 1965 he gave solo recitals only rarely.

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Chickering cast iron square piano frame (1849)

Chickering and Sons was an American piano manufacturer located in Boston, known for producing award-winning instruments of superb quality and design. The company was founded in 1823 by Jonas Chickering and James Stewart and manufactured pianos until 1983. Jonas Chickering made several major contributions to the development of piano technology, most notably by introducing a one-piece, cast-iron plate to support the greater string tension of larger grand pianos.

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Schematic of a piano
Credit: Olek Remesz/Bechstein (latter not the company)
Schematic diagram of a grand piano


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Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.

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