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Introduction

Grand piano and upright piano.jpg

The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700 (the exact year is uncertain), in which the strings are struck by hammers. It is played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys (small levers) that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings.

The word piano is a shortened form of pianoforte, the Italian term for the early 1700s versions of the instrument, which in turn derives from gravicembalo col piano e forte and fortepiano. The Italian musical terms piano and forte indicate "soft" and "loud" respectively, in this context referring to the variations in volume (i.e., loudness) produced in response to a pianist's touch or pressure on the keys: the greater the velocity of a key press, the greater the force of the hammer hitting the strings, and the louder the sound of the note produced and the stronger the attack. The name was created as a contrast to harpsichord, a musical instrument that doesn't allow variation in volume. The first fortepianos in the 1700s had a quieter sound and smaller dynamic range.

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Piano tuner's most basic tools: tuning hammer and rubber mutes

Piano tuning is the act of making minute adjustments to the tensions of the strings of a piano to properly align the intervals between their tones so that the instrument is in tune. The meaning of the term in tune in the context of piano tuning is not simply a particular fixed set of pitches. Fine piano tuning requires an assessment of the interaction among notes, which is different for every piano, thus in practice requiring slightly different pitches from any theoretical standard. Pianos are usually tuned to a modified version of the system called equal temperament (see Piano key frequencies for the theoretical piano tuning).

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Bösendorfer grand piano

Bösendorfer (L. Bösendorfer Klavierfabrik GmbH) is an Austrian piano manufacturer, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Yamaha. The brand is known for producing pianos with a uniquely rich, singing, and sustaining tone. Bösendorfer is unusual in that it produces 97- and 92-key models in addition to instruments with standard 88-key keyboards. Bösendorfer makes seven models of grand piano (from 5'8" to 9'6") and one vertical piano (52" upright). The 9'6" Imperial Grand is one of the world's largest pianos.

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Did you know…

… that aliquot stringing creates a richer piano sound by adding extra resonance strings in the treble?

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