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What's a piano??

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  • What's a piano??

    Am I the only one who thinks a piano must have a mechanical action and strings to be a piano?

    It seems that there are a good number of people alive today who have no idea what's inside a piano. Everything with a keyboard, including a 3-manual pipe organ is a "piano." But especially, low end electronic keyboards are "pianos."

    How long before people just don't believe that music can be made without electricity?

  • #2
    Much though I love a good grand piano, there are many times when I'd rather have a high quality digital piano than a poor upright. At least I know and understand the differences! And I do class both types of instrument as pianos, same as I class electronic and pipe instruments as organs.

    But you're right about many people not knowing what's inside a piano, or a pipe organ for that matter! Maybe it's a USA thing calling everything 'pianos' but over here we tend to call small keyboard instruments keyboards, even though they may be digital pianos!
    It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

    New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

    Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
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    • musicgeek854
      musicgeek854 commented
      Editing a comment
      We have an old Karn upright and I believe it could take some regulating and a little bit of other work but it sounds amazing.

  • #3
    It wouldn't bother me much if someone called a digital piano a piano. But the only time I ever see anyone refer to digital pianos is at the music shops, and from owners. In both cases everyone involved usually stresses that they are digital pianos.

    I've passed up owning an upright more times than I can recall. I'd really, really like a grand. But I'd have to get rid of a lot of things to have one, and I don't know when I'd find time to play it or even keep it in tune. So I often think about getting a digital piano; the action on the newest ones is very good. The sound is passable. (I wonder if they'll ever put microphones in them for sympathetic resonance. When that happens I probably will be hard pressed to avoid buying one.)

    I've always called electronic keyboards "keyboards". But the new trend seems to be to call then pianos. I recently observed someone referring to a large pipe organ console as a piano, and discovered that this seems to be normal.

    I have a plethora of keyboards and multiple organs. Some even do reasonable impersonations of pianos*. But I don't own any pianos.

    (* I'm always impressed by the piano tab on my Concorde. It sounds more like a piano than any keyboard I ever played up until about 20 years ago).

    Comment


    • musicgeek854
      musicgeek854 commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't mind electonic pianos.

  • #4
    I see what you mean by people calling all keyboard instruments pianos. Another instrument (which I happen to play) which also seems to have similar issues is the bassoon.
    The thing that I find ironic about the bassoon is that there are people that go on about how the organ needs to evolve and get out of the church and onto its rightful place the concert stage and yet the bassoon is one of those instrument that is light and portable, it ditched religion centuries ago, it relishes in circular music and yet it still seems have issues with not just popularity but also the fact that there is a lot people who don’t even know what a bassoon is.

    An article worth reading is one published in the Guardian back in 2015 about the bassoons decline in popularity.


    https://www.theguardian.com/music/20...red-instrument

    I'm not sure about how the bassoon is doing now because my teacher (who teaches quite a few different woodwind instruments) does have a lot of young bassoon students at the moment.


    Comment


    • davidecasteel
      davidecasteel commented
      Editing a comment
      We have a professional bassoonist in our church. She sings in the Choir and often plays in services--solos and combos, and (of course) whenever we have a full orchestra. Her music is always well received by the congregation.

  • #5
    Interesting!

    I have my hands full with keyboard, stringed, and percussion, instruments. So I never give any thought at all to wind instruments of any kind.

    I think most people don't know about them due to how well synthesisers emulate them. That, and most people categorise instruments three ways: Rock band instruments, "high school band" instruments, and things they only find ridiculous. Bassoons would fall into the 2nd. Sadly accordions and banjos have been relegated to the third. I suspect most people are only interested in the first category, and pay no attention to anything else. But most instruments do well outside their stereotype. I had hoped YouTube would introduce people to "unusual" instruments. But it doesn't seem that way. Just search for Zither and the first thing you get is some goofball with a springy guitar.

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    • #6
      IMHO, a "piano" has 88 keys--anything with fewer is NOT a piano. It's also not a piano if it doesn't sound like one. And I probably discount any keyboard instrument, otherwise qualified, that has voices other than piano.

      David

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      • #7
        I was sternly corrected recently by the 6 year old when I referred to her 88 key Casio as a piano. "It's not a piano, it's a keyboard!"

        Meanwhile, at my suggestion, her mother is looking at a good second hand upright so that daughter gets to learn how to play a real hammer action instrument.

        That aside, I am truly amazed at the orchestral capability of the high end modern electronic keyboards.
        -------

        Hammond M-102 #21000.
        Leslie 147 #F7453 in the queue.
        Hammond S-6 #72421

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        • #8
          David, would you not consider a 73-key piano?

          gtc, see if you can get a baby grand (or even smaller parlour grand) in stead. They generally sell for less than uprights and consoles in the classifieds, they really don't take up much more space than an upright, and the sound and feel are much better.

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          • #9
            Originally posted by KC9UDX View Post
            gtc, see if you can get a baby grand (or even smaller parlour grand) in stead. They generally sell for less than uprights and consoles in the classifieds, they really don't take up much more space than an upright, and the sound and feel are much better.
            I agree, but unfortunately there's no room in the house for it. That said, her mother is taking lessons on a parlour grand between shifts at her work.

            There are lots (warehouses full) of very good condition and affordable "low mileage" Yamaha U3s available here with 10 year warranties from long-established dealers. Aim to take a piano tech with us to pick the best one.
            -------

            Hammond M-102 #21000.
            Leslie 147 #F7453 in the queue.
            Hammond S-6 #72421

            Comment


            • #10
              Originally posted by KC9UDX View Post
              David, would you not consider a 73-key piano?
              Maybe. I've never seen one, and didn't know they existed. If they are mechanical action, I'd probably consider them.

              David

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              • #11
                Originally posted by davidecasteel View Post
                Maybe. I've never seen one, and didn't know they existed. If they are mechanical action, I'd probably consider them.
                Parlour grands typically only have 73. I think some square pianos may as well. It's been a long time since I've actually seen either in person.

                I think Butterfly grands (a notable type of parlour grand) all have only 73.

                Edit: I stand corrected. Some butterflies don't even have that many, at least according to Google Images.

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                • #12
                  You can find square pianos with even less than 73 keys Once could buy one but didn't have the place to put it. Great looking instruments those square pianos.

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    Originally posted by Havoc View Post
                    You can find square pianos with even less than 73 keys Once could buy one but didn't have the place to put it. Great looking instruments those square pianos.
                    Amazing looking, not so much fun to play, as I recall. Stiff action with very little expression. But I expect the differences between makes and models is significant. So there are probably other ones that play better.

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                    • #14
                      My school has an an old Steinwert(?) upright that has 73 keys, AAA to a'''. Interesting thing, very, very out of tune.

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        There was a time when the piano had roughly 61 keys the same as a harpsichord. I’m sure a lot of you would be well aware of that but there are some people who aren’t. I remember a teacher at high school made a remark or something about how you can’t play the music of Mozart on an instrument with five octaves. She was probably referring to not just Mozart’s music as a whole and not just his keyboard works.
                        I’ve added a link to a video of a demonstrating of the evolution of keyboard instruments from the clavichord to the modern piano. The video in the link is to part 1 of 2 so the Fortepiano isn’t demonstrated until part 2.

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uCCw_hmILA


                        Also on the subject of Fortepiano’s we of course tend to criticize the piano for only having one sound but much like the harpsichord there was a time the piano (besides the English piano) could create deferent sounds.
                        I remember a demonstration in a my old historical music class of a late Fortepiano (along with various other historical keyboard instruments) that had 7 pedals and if I remember correctly it was based off an instrument owned by Franz Shubert.

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlS3PPJQItQ

                        I’ve found a video of Beethoven’s Turkish March played on an instrument very similar to the instrument I remember. The performance unfortunately only makes use of one of the things that this piano can do but it's still a nice performance.


                        I have found a video of a class demonstration that does demonstrate some of the sounds a abilities but the video is pretty average and the piano is out of tune. there's probably better videos on Youtbe and Pleyel is the only early piano company that I'm familiar with.

                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROxwAmMtEp8

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                        • musicgeek854
                          musicgeek854 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          If you mute a piano's strings(don't touch the wound strings with bare hands) it sounds awsome.
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