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The history of the piano

The piano has seen many sights and has been a part of countless important events in the past and present, and is said to have dominated music for the past 200 years (Welton). Throughouthistory, inventions come along that “take art away from princesand give it the people” (Swan 41). Not unlike the printingpress, the piano made what was once intangible possible: thepoorest of peasants could enjoy the same music that their belovedrulers did. The piano can be played by “the rankest of amateurs,and the greatest of virtuosos” (Swan 41); so even if a person isnot very intelligent, a simple tune can easily be learned. Inaddition to being a key factor in almost all western musicstyles, the piano has had a rich and eventful history. The piano can be directly linked to two instruments ofcenturies past. The first is the clavichord, a box-likestructure in which strings are stretched, and struck by metalblades to produce notes and pitches. The clavichord could bemanipulated to produce different chords, but even at it’s best,could barely be heard by anyone other than the player (Swan 42). Intent upon creating a superior to the clavichord, musicalengineers created the harpsichord. The harpsichord used a framesimilar to modern grand-pianos, but utilized a wooden bar and aquill to pluck strings (the jack), which amplified the sound of aclavichord greatly. Harpsichords were more expensiveclavichords and became a fad in sixteenth and seventeenth centuryEngland (Rice 185). The harpsichord was a particularly important developmentleading to the invention of the piano. “Its ability to projectsound more loudly than its predecessors, and refinements in theaction of striking the keys inspired many more musicians tocompose for the keyboard and thus, to perform keyboard works”(Grover 128). However, the harpsichord was limited to one,unvarying volume. Its softness and loudness remained the samewhile playing. Ther...

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