MUSIC THROUGH THE AGES

Development Of The Piano: A Timeline
Tracing the roots of the piano to the very beginning of consciousness,
when man first became aware of sound.
EVOLUTION OF THE INSTRUMENT
Page 3 of 6 pages

Church Harpsichord. [ 1 ]

A stringed keyboard of the box zither family, the harpsichord was first attributed to Hermann Poll, c.1397, and called the clavicembalum. Unlike the clavichord, its strings are plucked with quills instead of struck with tangents made of small metal blades. It is from this point on in the development of the modern grand piano, the wing-like shape takes center stage, on account of the string length progression from treble to bass.

A Brief History of the Harpsichord. [ 2 ]

Harpsichord Performance: Comparone Plays Scarlatti. [ 3 ]


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Tomwsulcer.  "Harpsichord."  Photograph.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 19 Nov. 2012.  Web.  21 Aug. 2015.  CC0 1.0
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AnnaKaye689.  "A Brief History of the Harpsichord."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 21 Oct. 2010.  Web.  16 Oct. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.
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Comparone, Elaine.  "Harpsichord Performance: Comparone Plays Scarlatti."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 17 Aug. 2007.  Web.  16 Oct. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.
Additional References:
  • Wikipedia.  "History of the Harpsichord."  Wikipedia.  Wikipedia, 5 April 2015.  Web.  14 Sept. 2015.
  • Sankey, John.  "A Brief History of the Harpsichord."  JohnSankey.CA.  John Sankey, n.d.  Web.  14 Sept. 2015.

First record of the "clavichord" name, from Eberhard Cersne's Der Minne Regel.

Harpsichord on the Altarpiece
of the Cathedral in Minden, Germany, 1425. [ 1 ]

The first known representation of the harpsichord (figured left) is on an altarpiece in the cathedral of Minden, Germany, 1425.


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Opus33.  "The Earliest Representation of a Harpsichord, 1425."  Photograph.  Original Photograph by Arnold den Teuling.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 7 Sept. 2009.  Web.  21 Aug. 2015.  CC BY-SA 3.0

At first believed to be of Persian origin but likely derived from Byzantium, the hammered dulcimer arrived in western Europe during the 15th century (Mid-1400s). A trapeziform box zither closely related to the psaltery, its strings were struck with light beaters, or hammers, instead of plucking or fingering. Two partitioning bridges on the soundboard divided courses of unfretted strings, providing extra chromatic notes. As the instrument evolved, the arrangement strings and additional bridges added to its complexity and versatility, and was likely a great inspiration in pushing the piano to become more expressive.

In many parts of the world, the dulcimer is known by different names, with corresponding attributes.

'Oh, What a Difference a Hammer Makes!'
with Russell Cook of Master Works. [ 1 ]

Hammer Dulcimer Solo - 'Carol of the Bells.' [ 2 ]


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MasterWorksDulcimers.  "'Oh What A difference a Hammer Makes!’ with Russell Cook of Master Works."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 2 June 2011.  Web.  6 Nov. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.
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Brock, William.  "'Carol of the Bells' Hammer Dulcimer Solo."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 28 Nov. 2009.  Web. 14 Oct. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.

Virginal Built by Joannes Grauwels, c. 1580. [ 1 ]

So-called because the instrument was played predominately by ‘maids and young ladies,’ and was the fitting expression for accompanying “sweet voices singing hymns,” the virginal became an improvement on the clavicytherium, replacing its strings with steel and iron instead of catgut. It did not displace the clavichord, though its improvements were evident. Queen Elizabeth possessed several Venetian specimens.

William Byrd's 'Rowland' from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book
on a Virginal. [ 2 ]

Instrumental Rarities - Virginal y Clavicordio. [ 3 ]


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Daderot.  "Virginal Instrument, c. 1580 Made by Joannes Grauwels Located in the Musical Instrument Museum, Brussels."  Photograph.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 17 Nov. 2010.  Web.  6 Nov. 2015.  Public Domain.
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Stolz, Ernst.  "'Rowland' by William Byrd on Virginal."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 29 Feb. 2012.  Web.  16 Oct. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.
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Fundacion Juan March.  "Rarezas Instrumentales, Virginal y Clavicordio."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 17 Feb. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.
Additional References:
  • Victoria and Albert Museum.  "'Queen Elizabeth’s Virginal,' Giovanni Baffo, 1594."  Victoria and Albert Museum.  Victoria and Albert Museum, 2015.  Web.  14 Sept. 2015.
  • Rimbault, Edward Francis.  The Pianoforte, Its Origin, Process, and Construction:  With Some Account of the Same Class which Preceded It; Viz. the Clavichord, the Virginal, the Spinet, the Harpsichord, etc.; to which is Added a Selection of Interesting Specimens of Music Composed for Keyed-Stringed Instruments.  London: R. Crocks and Company, 1860.  Google Books.  Web.  14 Sept. 2015.

Almost identical in construction to the oblong virginal and the harpsichord, the spinet, or bentside spinet, was thought to have gained popularity in the early 16th century and lasted for roughly a hundred years before being supplanted for the most part by the piano-forte.

A triangular shaped, jack-action keyboard instrument, wherein strings run transversely, at a 30 degree angle to the keyboard, moving toward the right and crossing a bent bridge to alter their resonance.

Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) would later create a larger version, called the spinettone, expanding the range of sound with multiple choirs of paired strings

 

The Keene and Brackley Spinet. [ 2 ]

 

Spinet Built by Benjamin Slade,
Photographed by Olav Nyhus. [ 1 ]


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Mnnnnalin.  "Spinett, Photographed by Olav Nyhus"   Photograph.  Original in the Musik-Och Teatermuseet, Stockholm.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 27 Feb. 2013.  Web.  21 Aug. 2015.  CC BY-SA 3.0
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Mole, Peter.  "The Keene and Brackley Spinet."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 4 July 2008.  Web.  16 Oct. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.

Made in Rome by Jerome of Bologna, remains one of the oldest Harpsichords that established the typical light construction, elegant ornamentation, and elongated, incurved frame.

The Harpsichord remained relevant through the 18th century for solo, chamber, orchestral, and opera, falling out of use by c.1810. The name now serves as a general designation for the entire family of plucked keyboard instruments.

The instrument has witnessed many reincarnations, as it authentically expresses the original repertoire of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, with revivals reaching into the modern day. Of particular interest is the work of Wanda Landowska, who in 1933 became the first person to record Bach's Goldberg Variations.


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Additional References:
  • Clutton, Cecil.  "Keyboard Instrument."  Encyclopædia Britannica.  Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 5 Dec. 2014.  Web.  14 Sept. 2015.
  • Rimbault, Edward Francis.  The Pianoforte, Its Origin, Process, and Construction:  With Some Account of the Same Class which Preceded It; Viz. the Clavichord, the Virginal, the Spinet, the Harpsichord, etc.; to which is Added a Selection of Interesting Specimens of Music Composed for Keyed-stringed Instruments.  London: R. Crocks and Company, 1860.  Google Books.  Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
  • Apel, Willi.  Harvard Dictionary of Music.  2nd Edition.  Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1969.  Google Books.  Web. 14 Sept. 2015.

Pianoforte by Bartolomeo Cristofori - Florence, Italy, 1720. [ 1 ]

The first piano, pianoforte, described as an ‘arpicimbalo ,’ built by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1732) while he was appointed ‘to the Florentine court of Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici in 1688,’ vastly improved upon the harpsichord and clavichord, ‘with hammers and dampers and two 8′ choirs, having a range of four octaves.’

Cristofori Piano: Sonata K.9 by Domenico Scarlatti
Performed by Dongsok Shin. [ 2 ]

The Difference Between Fortepiano and Piano (Forte). [ 3 ]

His innovations included an “escapement” mechanism to prevent the hammers from dampening the strings, a “backcheck” to ensure the hammer did not fall against the strings after being struck, and a dampening mechanism to silence strings not in use. Other technical advancements included isolating the soundboard from its stress-bearing parts and using thicker strings with increased tension. These numerous refinements expanded the range and versatility of the sound, affording the player an instrument responsive to touch, capable of dynamic gradations.


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Under License, Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY.
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  "Cristofori Piano: Sonata K.9 by Domenico Scarlatti, Performed by Dongsok Shin."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 29 July 2006.  Web.  16 Oct. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.
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ear8002.  "The Difference Between Fortepiano and Piano(Forte)."  Online Video Clip.  YouTube.  YouTube, 13 Oct. 2012.  Web.  16 Oct. 2015.  Standard YouTube License.
Additional References:
  • O’Brien, Michael.  "Cristofori, Bartolomeo."  Oxford Music Online.  Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015.  Web.  14 Sept. 2015.
  • Robinson, J. Bradford.  "Pianoforte: History of the Instrument."  Oxford Music Online.  Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015.  Web.  14 Sept. 2015.

Term Pianoforte ( “soft and loud” ) coined by poet/journalist Scipione Maffei; he named Cristofori’s instrument a “gravicembalo col piano, e forte.”

A Needle on a Tuning Fork Carving Sinewave-Shaped Figures on a Glass Plate
Covered with Carbon Black
. [ 1 ]

Tuning fork invented by British musician John Shore, to overcome the difficulty of tuning his lute.


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Keller, Klaus-Dieter.  "A needle on a tuning fork carved these figures on a glass plate covered with carbon black. As the plate is moved from left to right, the sinewave-shaped swinging motion appears."  Glass Plate.  Commons Wikimedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 17 June 2011.  Web.  18 Aug. 2015.  GFDL, and CC BY-SA 3.0
Page 3 of 6 pages

[ CLOSE ]
 

Additional References:
  • Mastehead Image: O’Donnell, Dylan.  "Piano Strings."  Photograph.  Deography.  Dylan O’Donnell, 1 Nov. 2010.  Web.  18 June 2015.  Public Domain.
  • Mandalatrece, Jim Doney.  "History of an Ascended Master, His Connection with Essenes, and The Secrecy of The Kanon."  ThaKanon.  Jim Doney Mandalatrece, n.d.  Web.  18 June 2015.
  • Blaise, Gary.  "The Early String Keyboards."  Gary Blaise.  Gary Blaise Early Keyboard Instruments, n.d.  Web.  18 June 2015.
  • "History of Classical Music."  Naxos.  Naxos Digital Services Ltd., n.d.  Web.  18 June 2015.
  • "History of the Piano."  Piano Technicians Guild.  Piano Technicians Guild, Inc. n.d.  Web.  18 June 2015.
  • "Development of the Piano."  Bluebook of Piano.  Bluebook of Pianos, 1933 – 2015.  18 June 2015.
  • Estrella, Steven G.  "Stylistic Timeline of Music History."  Steven Estrella.  Steven G. Estrella, 2013.  Web.  18 June 2015.
  • "The History of Graphical Music Notation."  Block Museum.  Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, n.d.  Web.  18 June 2015.
  • "The Piano Time Line: A Chronological History."  Concert Pitch Piano.  Concert Pitch Piano Services, 2000 – 2015.  Web.  18 June. 2015.
  • "History of the Piano."  Piano Tuners.  The UK Piano Pages, 1996 – 2015.  Web.  18 June. 2015.
  • Weinstock, Ron.  "A Personal List of Ten Great Blues Pianists."  In a Blue Mood.  In a Blue Mood, 25 Sept. 2009.  Web.  18 June 2015.
  • "Romantic Music."  Essential Humanities.  Essential Humanities, 2008 – 2013.  Web.  19 June 2015.
  • "List of Romantic-Era Composers."  Wikipedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 15 Sept. 2015.  Web.  18 Sept. 2015.
  • Duchen, Jessica.  "Top 20: The World’s Greatest Pianists."  Sinfini Music.  Sinfini Music, 23 April 2014.  Web.  18 June 2015.
  • Solomon, Jon.  "The Ten Best Jazz Pianists of All Time."  Westword.  Denver Westword, LLC., 27 Aug. 2013.  18 June 2015.
  • Sturm, Connie Arrau, Debra Brubaker Burs, and Anita Jackson, eds.  "Annotated Bibliography of Sources on the History of Piano Technique and Piano Pedagogy."  Piano Technique.  Piano Technique.Net, n.d.  Web.  18 June 2015.
  • Groves Music Online for Music Research.  Oxford Music Online.  Oxford University Press, 2007 – 2015.  Web.  June – December 2015.
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