History Of The Piano

Tracing the roots of the piano to the very beginning of consciousness, when man first became aware of sound.

C. 5th Century BCE, Monochord
800, Music Notation

3rd Century BCE, Hydraulus

Illustration of a working reproduction of the hydraulus.
Working Reproduction of the Hydraulus. 2

The concept of a keyboard most likely originated in the 3rd century B.C.E. with the earliest incarnation of the organ, the hydraulus. To manipulate the sound, players manipulated hinged or pivoted levers, pressing downward to open up the passage of air to various pipes.

By the Middle Ages, the mechanical action was typically reversed, in the form of a slider or turn-key pulled outward to sound notes. Not until the portable organ, and then the organistrum, would the concept evolve into a formal keyboard.

YouTube Placeholder Image for VesLeVMK5aE
Reproduction of a Roman Hydraulus, performed by Alexander Henshaw. 2

Page Sources

Unknown Artist.  Working Reproduction of the Hydraulus.  1911.  Smith, Hermann.  The Making of Sound in the Organ and in the Orchestra: An Analysis of the Work of the Air in the Speaking Organ Pipe of the Various Constant Types, and an Exposition of the Theory of the Air-Stream-Reed, Based Upon the Discovery of the Tone of the Air, by Means of Displacement Rods.  New York: C. Scribner’s Sons, 1911: pg. 337, Fig. 26.  Google Books.  Web.  5 Oct. 2015.  Public Domain.
Freia Turland Photography.  "Roman Replica Hydraulus at the Roman Baths."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 5 Aug. 2014.  Web.  14 Oct. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.
End of Article