Instrument spotlight · Instrumental Facts

Interesting facts about the piano you should know

You will have heard loads and loads of music played on the piano. You may play it yourself or have children in your house learning to play, but how much do you actually know about this splendid instrument? Well, here are 18 facts about the piano that you might find interesting.

  • The piano was invented in Italy in 1709 by Francesco Cristofori.
  • One of the pianos made by Cristofori is housed in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • The full name of the piano is pianoforte from the Italian words piano meaning soft, and forte meaning loud.
  • The piano got its name because it can play music both quietly and loud, previously keyboard instruments could not do this.
  • The piano can be considered as both a string and a percussion instrument.
  • When you press a note on the piano, a hammer will hit the strings inside the piano’s casing to make a note.
  • Piano strings are usually made from steel and each string holds about 170 pounds of tension.
  • There are approximately 230 strings in a standard piano.
  • Piano keys used to be made from ivory, but have been made out of plastic since the 1940’s.
  • Musicians talk about “middle C”, but the exact middle of a piano keyboard is between the E and F keys above middle C.
  • The left pedal of the 2 foot pedals on a piano is a damper pedal. It works by moving the hammer closer to the string so it can’t hit the string as hard, and will make a quieter sound.
  • The right pedal of the 2 foot pedals on a piano is a sustain pedal. It works by removing the dampers from the strings so that the string continues to sound after the key has been pressed and let go.
  • The piano has a huge range of notes that it can play, a range to rival any orchestra.
  • The piano’s lowest note is the same as the lowest note on a double-bassoon.
  • The piano’s highest note is the same as the highest note on a piccolo.
  • The world’s most expensive piano is one made out of crystal by Canadian piano makers Heintsman & Co. It is worth $3,220,000
  • The world’s smallest piano was made by video game makers Sega. It is just 25cm wide. It is a playable piano, but the keys are absolutely tiny!
  • The world’s largest piano is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as measuring 8ft 2in wide, 19ft 10in long and 6ft 3in high. It was made by Daniel Czapiewski and was actually played in a concert at Szymbark in Poland on 30 December 2010.

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