Types Of Piano

Karishma Mishra
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Types

Modern pianos have two basic configurations, the grand piano and the upright piano, with various styles of each. There are also specialized and novelty pianos, electric pianos based on electromechanical designs, electronic pianos that synthesize piano-like tones using oscillators, and digital pianos using digital samples of acoustic piano sounds.

Grand

Steinway & Sons grand piano in the White House

In grand pianos the frame and strings are horizontal, with the strings extending away from the keyboard. The action lies beneath the strings, and uses gravity as its means of return to a state of rest. There are multiple sizes of grand piano:

  • Baby grand (around 1.5 meters [4 ft 11 in])
  • Parlor grand, or boudoir grand (1.7 to 2.2 meters [5 ft 7 in–7 ft 3 in])
  • Concert grand (between 2.2 and 3 meters [7 ft 3 in–9 ft 10 in])

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. The higher the partial, the further sharp it runs. Pianos with shorter and thicker string (i.e., small pianos with short string scales) have more inharmonicity. The greater the inharmonicity, the more the ear perceives it as harshness of tone.

The inharmonicity of piano strings requires that octaves be stretched, or tuned to a lower octave's corresponding sharp overtone rather than to a theoretically correct octave. If octaves are not stretched, single octaves sound in tune, but double—and notably triple—octaves are unacceptably narrow. Stretching a small piano's octaves to match its inherent inharmonicity level creates an imbalance among all the instrument's intervallic relationships. In a concert grand, however, the octave "stretch" retains harmonic balance, even when aligning treble notes to a harmonic produced from three octaves below. This lets close and widespread octaves sound pure, and produces virtually beatless perfect fifths. This gives the concert grand a brilliant, singing and sustaining tone quality—one of the principal reasons that full-size grands are used in the concert hall. Smaller grands satisfy the space and cost needs of domestic use; as well, they are used in some small teaching studios and smaller performance venues.

Upright

August Förster upright piano

Upright pianos, also called vertical pianos, are more compact due to the vertical structure of the frame and strings. The mechanical action structure of the upright piano was invented in London, England in 1826 by Robert Wornum, and upright models became the most popular model.[21] 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. Upright pianos with unusually tall frames and long strings were sometimes marketed as upright grand pianos, but that label is misleading. Some authors classify modern pianos according to their height and to modifications of the action that are necessary to accommodate the height. Upright pianos are generally less expensive than grand pianos. Upright pianos are widely used in churches, community centers, schools, music conservatories and university music programs as rehearsal and practice instruments, and they are popular models for in-home purchase.

  • The top of a spinet model barely rises above the keyboard. Unlike all other pianos, the spinet action is located below the keys, operated by vertical wires that are attached to the backs of the keys.
  • Console pianos, which have a compact action (shorter hammers than a large upright has), but because the console's action is above the keys rather than below them as in a spinet, a console almost always plays better than a spinet does. Console pianos are a few inches shorter than studio models.
  • Studio pianos are around 107 to 114 cm (42–45 in) tall. This is the shortest cabinet that can accommodate a full-sized action located above the keyboard.
  • Anything taller than a studio piano is called an upright. (Technically, any piano with a vertically-oriented soundboard could be called an upright, but that word is often reserved for the full-size models.)

Specialized

Player piano from 1920 (Steinway)

The toy piano, introduced in the 19th century, is a small piano-like instrument, that generally uses round metal rods to produce sound, rather than strings. The US Library of Congress recognizes the toy piano as a unique instrument with the subject designation, Toy Piano Scores: M175 T69.[22] In 1863, Henri Fourneaux invented the player piano, which plays itself from a piano roll. A machine perforates a performance recording into rolls of paper, and the player piano replays the performance using pneumatic devices. Modern equivalents of the player piano include the Bösendorfer CEUS, Yamaha Disklavier and QRS Pianomation,[23] using solenoids and MIDI rather than pneumatics and rolls. A silent piano is an acoustic piano having an option to silence the strings by means of an interposing hammer bar. They are designed for private silent practice, to avoid disturbing others. Edward Ryley invented the transposing piano in 1801. This rare instrument has a lever under the keyboard as to move the keyboard relative to the strings so a pianist can play in a familiar key while the music sounds in a different key.

Karishma Mishra
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