Tracing the roots of the piano to the very beginning of consciousness, when man first became aware of sound.
Early 1300s, Clavichord
From the monochord comes the small, delicate-sounding keyboard called the clavichord, or clavicordium, at first comprised of no more than 10 fretted strings serving multiple keys (with non-fretted models arriving later). Highly portable but unable to project sound effectively, it was used as an intimate private or practice instrument.
To produce a tone, each key, when depressed, caused a tangent to strike a pair of strings, which determined the pitch based on their distance from the bridge. Since more than one tangent might utilize a pair of strings, only one note could be played at a time. Known for its soft tone, the instrument’s dynamic range offered the performer exquisite control and expressiveness of sound.