During the nineteenth century, music publishers produced many types of musical works (symphonies, opera overtures, waltzes, etc.) in arrangements for piano, so that music lovers could play and hear the popular Music Store Brisbane pieces of the day in their home. The piano is widely employed in classical, jazz, traditional and popular music for solo and ensemble performances, accompaniment, and for composing, songwriting and rehearsals.
The harpsichord produces a sufficiently loud sound, especially when a coupler joins each key to both manuals of a two-manual harpsichord, but it offers no dynamic or expressive control over each note. The piano offers the best of both instruments, combining the ability to play loudly and perform sharp accents.
The design of the piano hammers requires having the hammer felt be soft enough so that it will not create loud, very high harmonics that a hard hammer will cause. The hammer must be lightweight enough to move swiftly when a key is pressed; yet at the same time, it must be strong enough so that it can hit strings hard when the player strikes the keys forcefully for fortissimo playing or sforzando accents. The numerous parts of a piano action are generally made from hardwood, such as maple, beech, and hornbeam, however, since World War II, makers have also incorporated plastics. Early plastics used in some pianos in the late 1940s and 1950s, proved disastrous when they lost strength after a few decades of use.
Piano makers overcome this by polishing, painting, and decorating the plate. In an effort to make pianos lighter, Alcoa worked with Winter and Company piano manufacturers to make pianos using an aluminum plate during the 1940s. Aluminum piano plates were not widely accepted, and were discontinued. Digital, MIDI-equipped, pianos can output a stream of MIDI data, or record and play via a CD ROM or USB flash drive using MIDI format files, similar in concept to a pianola.
All else being equal, longer pianos with longer strings have larger, richer sound and lower inharmonicity of the strings. Inharmonicity is the degree to which the frequencies of overtones (known as partials or harmonics) sound sharp relative to whole multiples of the fundamental frequency. This results from the piano’s considerable string stiffness; as a struck string decays its harmonics vibrate, not from their termination, but from a point very slightly toward the center (or more flexible part) of the string.
Cristofori’s great success was designing a stringed keyboard instrument in which the notes are struck by a hammer. The hammer must strike the string, but not remain in contact with it, because this would damp the sound and stop the string from vibrating and making sound.
When all of the other strings on the piano can vibrate, this allows sympathetic vibration of strings that are harmonically related to the sounded pitches. For example, if the pianist plays the 440 Hz “A” note, the higher octave “A” notes will also sound sympathetically.
Upright pianos took less space than a grand piano, and as such they were a better size for use in private homes for domestic music-making and practice. The hammers move horizontally, and return to their resting position via springs, which are susceptible to degradation.