Music Maestro #1 ~ Piano Edition: History

The piano is a very popular instrument, even disputed as the most known and played.  Many children grow up taking piano lessons, whether by interest, or forced.  A century or two ago, only the wealthy elite had pianos or knew how to play them.  Now playing the piano is practically universal.  Pianos are now almost a commodity, but where did they come from?

The piano was created by Bartolomeo Cristofori, an Italian harpsichord builder in 1709.  Before the piano, there was two types of keyboards that were played: clavichord and harpsichord.


This picture is of a clavichord and was taken from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


This is a picture of a harpsichord and was taken from The University of Edinburgh.

The harpsichord is very similar to the piano, however it had only one range of volume.  The development of the piano added both soft and loud volumes.  It was originally named “soft and loud keyboard instrument”, then pianoforte, and finally as we know it today, piano.

The traditional piano has 88 keys.  With the combination of black and white keys, a player has the range of 7 octaves.  There are a few types of pianos: classic piano, the digital (or keyboard), a grand piano (and baby grand), and the player piano.


This is a picture of a classic piano and was taken from Walter Piano Company.

A classic piano may also be known as an upright piano.  These are the most common to be found in homes.  A new upright piano can cost around $3,000, but can be found used for a couple hundred bucks to $1,000.


This is a picture of a piano keyboard and was taken from Amazon.

Although there is a slight difference in sound quality between an electronic keyboard and an upright piano, a keyboard is still a great tool that can be used to learn to play the piano.  This is a good choice for those with a limited budget and space.  A new keyboard starts around $100 and can easily reach $1,000.


This is a picture of a grand piano and was taken from Fort Bend Music Center.

A grand piano is as much of a statement piece as much as it is an instrument.  I believe it is every piano player’s dream to play on one, if not own one.  The price tag on a grand piano is pretty hefty, ranging from $3,000 to $100,000.


This is a picture of a player piano and was taken from Antique Piano Shop.

A player piano can be played by anyone, regardless of any musical ability.  These pianos were made famous on old western shows.  It works by pumping air through the petals on the bottom to create a vacuum and inserting the music on the top.  The strings are told what to do by the slits on the paper.  The cost of a player piano can be as little as $200 to $2,000.

Another variation of the piano is the organ. The traditional organ works through pipes.


This is a picture of a pipe organ and was taken from University of Florida.


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