The piano is a keyboard instrument that produces sound when pressed on the keys. Most modern pianos have a row of 88 black and white keys: 52 white keys for the notes of the C major scale (C, D, E, F, G, A and B) and 36 shorter black keys raised above the white keys and set further back, for sharps and flats. This means that the piano can play 88 different pitches (or “notes”), spanning a range of a bit over seven octaves. The black keys are for the “accidentals” (F♯/G♭, G♯/A♭, A♯/B♭, C♯/D♭, and D♯/E♭), which are needed to play in all twelve keys.
There are two main types of piano: the grand piano and the upright piano. The grand piano offers better sound and more precise key control, making it the preferred choice when space and budget allow. The grand piano is also considered a necessity in venues hosting skilled pianists. However, the upright piano, despite being worse in terms of tone and key action, is more commonly used due to its smaller size and lower cost.
When the keyboard is pressed, the tightened strings inside are struck by coated wooden hammers. The vibrations are transmitted through a bridge to a soundboard that amplifies the sound by coupling the acoustic energy to the air. When the key is released, a damper stops the string’s vibration, ending the sound. Most notes have three strings, except for the bass, which graduates from one to two. Notes can be sustained when the keys are released by the use of pedals at the base of the instrument, which hold the dampers off of the strings. The sustain pedal allows pianists to play movements, such as shifting hands from bass to treble range while sustaining a chord, enabling melodies and arpeggios on top.
In the nineteenth century, influenced by Romantic music trends, the fortepiano adopted changes such as using the cast iron frame (which allowed much greater string tensions) and aliquot stringing gave grand pianos a more powerful sound, longer sustain and richer tone. Later in the century, as the piano became more common, it allowed families to listen to a newly published musical piece by having a family member play a simplified version. The piano is widely employed in classical, jazz, traditional and popular music for solo and ensemble performances, accompaniment, and for composing, songwriting and rehearsals. Despite its weight and cost, the piano’s versatility, extensive training of musicians, and widespread availability in venues, schools, and rehearsal spaces have made it a familiar instrument in the Western world.
Source: Piano – Wikipedia