History Of The Piano

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

C. 2500 BCE, Lyre
3rd Century BCE, Hydraulus

C. 5th Century BCE, Monochord

Illustration of a monochord drawn by Robert Fludd, 1624.
Sonification of World Order with a Monochord by Robert Fludd, 1624. 1

The monochord, a primitive, single-stringed scientific instrument, attributed to Pythagoras, used as a way of teaching harmonics, measuring musical intervals, tuning scales and encouraging experimentation. It is thought that Pythagoras used the monochord to delineate the three Western Scales (diatonic, chromatic, and enharmonic), illustrating how numerical ratios could be visualized with sound. The single string was typically plucked, though later developments would offer other variations, including the use of a bow. The introduction of a sound box to enhance the lower-frequency response of the single string led to the invention of the soundboard.

YouTube Placeholder Image for DZ-dPV7PPK8
Dan Bao Monochord Improvisation, performed by Phong Nguyen. 2

Page Sources

Rötel, Kaspar (Drucker).  Divine Monochord.  1617 – 1621.  Fludd, Robert.  Utriusque Cosmi Maioris Scilicet et Minoris Metaphysica, Physica atque Technica Historia Oppeinheim: Theodore de Bry.  (Collection Centre Candien d’Architecture, Montreal)  Gutenberg-E.Org.  Web.  13 Oct. 2015.  Public Domain.
Brink, Wayne.  “Dan Bao Improvisation, Three Rivers One Source.”  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 29 Nov. 2013.  Web.  14 Oct. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.
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