THE ERAS

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Percussion Family

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String Family

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Brass Family

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Woodwind Family

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Piano History

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Keyboards have been around since the middle ages. It began with the organ.The organ is considered a wind instrument which is very different than the modern piano.

During the late middle ages, the clavichord was invented. It was the first strings keyboard. It was very small and produced soft sounds. It was found in homes and not concert performances. When a player pressed the key, the key lifted a small copper square which struck the string as well as lifitng a damper. This allowed the strings vibration to be sustained as long as the key was held. It had one string per key and sometimes one for two keys. To compare with a modern piano, the modern piano has up to one, two, and three strings depending on the keys. The clavichord was known to be a quiet instrument it did allow for a wider dynamic range. The strings in a clavichord ran perpendicular like an upright piano.

The harpsichord was another strings keyboard invented during the 15th century in Italy. When a player pressed the key it lifts a jack which pushes a bird quill or plectrum to pluck its string. It ran parallel to the keys similar to a grand piano. It also contained a damper to cut off the vibration as soon as the key is released.

Throughout the 15th-17th century the next keyboard that was used was called the spinet or virginal, which consisted of 4 octaves.


Bartolommeo Cristofori invented the first piano in 1709. He called it "gravicembalo col piano e forte-a", which translates to "keyboard instrument that can be played soft and loud" to "pianoforte" to "piano". It contained the key, a felt hammer, and escapement with no dampers or pedals. The mechanics was changed during the 1800s. It had double escapement, which allowed the hammer not to fall all the way down. That allowed for quicker repetition of notes and faster trills. The piano is known for its resonance and dynamic range.

Davida Verotta. "Short History of the Pianoforte." Retrieved from: http://www.davideverotta.com/A_folders/Teaching/historypiano.html

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