The Physics of Piano

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One of the most common musical instruments in many homes is the piano; and most people have the opportunity for even a few lessons in their youth. However, despite the simplicity of its lines and keys (88 keys), 2-3 pedals on the modern piano, and either upright (vertical) or grand style (horizontal), the physics of the piano are both interesting and complex. The modern piano is a descendent of the harpsichord, which used a plucking technique much like that of plucking the strings of a harp or lute. Bartolomeo Crisotofori, an Italian craftsman, substituted felt hammers in place of the plucking mechanism, making the instrument capable of graduations of tone and timber. He called his new instrument the Gravicembalo col piano e forte (a harpsichord with louds and softs). This was later shortened to the piano and with critiques from Baroque composers like Bach, a number of improvements were made to sound quality and tonality eventually emerging as the preferred keyboard instrument for Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. Over the course of centuries to different piano types have emerged. The grand piano, from 5' 6" to 8 or 9' in length horizontal to the upright piano, more suitable for the home, which also exists in differing sizes, 3-5; in height (Parakilas). The mechanism of a piano consists of pressing on a key (either black or white) on the keyboard causing a felt-covered hammer to strike steel strings that are various lengths and tensions. The hammers rebound; allowing the
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