Did You Know?

Below are ten things you might not know about the piano. Oh yes, and a couple of very bad jokes! If you'd like to test your own 'piano IQ', here is a fun little quiz you can try.


The piano was invented in 1726 by Bartolomeo Cristofori, spinet and harpsichord maker to the Florentine prince Ferdinand de Medici. 'Piano' is an abbreviation of piano et forte (soft and loud).
Early pianists rarely performed on large stages, and piano recitals were unheard of. But from the 1830s right up to the First World War, concert pianists were the pop idols of their day. Their love affairs were the talk of society!
A piano is made of thousands of pieces of wood, glued together to form the various parts of the playing mechanism and cabinet. Felt, buckskin, paper, copper, steel, iron and glass are all used too.
Pianos have evolved over time. Some had four or even five pedals, or keys that weren't black and white. Other attempts to 'improve' the instrument have included using two keyboards, and a keyboard resembling a typewriter!
All about pianos
Modern pianos usually have 36 black keys and 52 white keys, but some manufacturers have made instruments with a range of 8 octaves. Bösendorfer's Imperial concert grand, for example, is almost 10ft long!
Each note in a grand piano has more than 35 points of adjustment, that's over 3,000 adjustments in total. There are approximately 230 strings, each with about 165 pounds of tension, giving a combined pull of 30 tons!
If all of the strings were the same thickness, with high C being its usual two inches, low C would have to be about 30ft long! For this reason, the lowest strings are weighted by wrapping copper around the wire.
The piano's range exceeds that of an entire orchestra. It is higher than the piccolo's highest chirp, and lower than the contrabassoon's lowest growl. It's even lower than the pipe organ's lowest 16ft pedal note!
The expression 'Tinkle the Ivories' refers to the use of ivory keys. In fact, ivory has not been used for this purpose since the 1950s. Piano keys are plastic now, sometimes referred to as 'Ivorine'.
The piano is believed by many economists to be the first item that was sold regularly on an instalment basis, contributing to the success of a number of modern day banking institutions.
It's often said you can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish. Of course you can, you just adjust its scales! What's that, one more? Oh, alright! Beethoven wrote in three flats a lot. He moved twice!