Pianoforte: the Development Technological Changes and Practices

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“Pianoforte: the development, technological changes and performance practice” [pic]

London Metropolitan University

Module: Musical Instruments

Student: Silvija Armonaite 07062934

Lec: Lewis Jones, Christina Paine.

Introduction

The early history of piano is familiar or at least easily accessible. It has been summarised in many reference books and explored in recently growing literature. The piano music has occupied a central place in professional and domestic music making since the third quarter of the 18th century. In addition the great capacities inherent in the keyboard itself – the ability to sound simultaneously at least as many notes as one has fingers and therefore to be able to produce any work in the entire literature of western music. Not so long ago, there was a time, when you could find a piano in almost every home. Many people’s memories hold vivid pictures of an old piano standing in the corner of their parent’s house. In its flexibility as a solo instrument or accompaniment leading an orchestra, or as a tool in the hands of a composer, the piano was unrivalled, and that everybody could play something on the piano. Millions around the world still experience the joy of picking out their favourite tunes on the instrument. There is no such a musical instrument that would be easy to handle and so quick to produce a note for the beginner. Given its special status, it is perhaps not surprising that every pianist should want to know not only how to choose and care for their instrument, but also would be able to understand its development, working, and individual maker’s characteristics. The instruments modern name was shortened form of its first description by S. Maffei, who first called it “gravicembalo col piano e forte” (harpsichord with soft and loud). English sources at the later stage called it ‘pianoforte’ and interchangeably ‘fortepiano’. There were many shapes and forms of a pianoforte, of which some stayed till nowadays and is used as classical form of fortepiano making.

Cristofori – Inventor of the piano

In the 1700 the great Italian violin-maker Antonio Stradivari, working in Cremona was producing some of the finest violins of his Golden Period. Violin had already recognized its priority over the viol family as the brighter instrument capable of a much wider range of expression. The harpsichord for all its limitations as a significant instrument was very suitable for accompanying both voice and violin. But it had and incapability to create dynamic variations and the clavichords, low expressive vocal music that was developing at the time. The musical rewards initially possessed by the piano were not generally recognized at the time of its invention even thought the instrument made its first appearance in a highly developed form. The single work of Bartolomeo Cristofori , the great maker of just this type of harpsichords, had designed and made his ‘gravicembalo col pian e forte’ the keyboard instrument that could produce a varied dynamic response directly by control of the fingers, as in the clavichord, but more powerful, so that the player could offer a larger range of expression in his performance. The age of the Piano had arrived. It is hard to identify exactly when the piano gained the popularity. In the 1770, much opposition still existed to pianoforte. At the same time composers as J.C Bach, Haydn, Clementi had started to create music for both harpsichord and pianoforte written on the title pages, both as accompanying and solo instruments. That was the beginning to achieve a pervasive recognition.

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Example of Cristofori piano
One of the greatest developments of the piano era has begun in the end of the 17th century. However the instrument was not gladly accepted in the country of its birth - Italy. Therefore an enthusiastic description of Cristofori’s instrument was...
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