Thursday, July 24, 2014

Early Beginnings of the Piano


Beginnings of the Piano

Our family’s first piano was an upright—solid, heavy, and in need of tuning.  If only I had known of Bennett Piano Movers at that time.  Bennett’s would have solved both the physical move as well as the tuning.  However, we were able to procure the services of a blind gentleman certified as a piano tuner.  He came with tuning fork, gently manipulated the ‘ivories’, and adjusted the strings just so.  We were happy with his work.  And even happier when our daughter could render the beauty of ‘Chariots of Fire’.

Stirring Piano Music Evokes



Listening to such stirring piano music evokes a sense of music rippling smoothly along with punctuated effects that one clings to while merging with the next sweet measure.
Piano music moves us with a myriad of feelings--without our delving into the complexities of how the music does that. 
That such beauty and pleasure can be ours is a tribute to man’s forebears and their ingenuity with simple instruments, exploration of tones, and craftsmanship.


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Beauty Of Such Stringed Tones


Thousands of years ago man’s use of pan pipes [derived from blow guns] and simple weaponry, such as the bow and arrow, prompted the early shepherd and hunter’s awareness and appreciation of different sounds or tones that could be made.  Different tones were shaped by tautness of bow strings, material used for the strings, and wind effects as the arrow was swiftly propelled forward.  It was learned that tones could be produced across an arrangement of strings, such as with the harp of Old Testament days. The beauty of such stringed tones gave King Saul great comfort when he was troubled or sad.


Harp Of Yesteryear


The harp of yesteryear impacted design of later stringed instruments including the dulcimer, harpsichord, clavichord, and violin, and piano.  The first piano keyboard was established in 13th century Medieval Europe.

As with all inventions, alterations were made along the way – in part by early keyboard players trying to figure out how many musical notes there were to play.

Our   present-day piano or pianoforte was a major work of Bartolome Cristofori, an Italian harpsichordist from 1710 Florence, Italy.  One may safely credit these early instruments and music makers with the evolution to our present day piano tones and keyboards of 88 keys.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Different Parts of The Piano


Great piano manufacturers go to enormous lengths to produce a quality instrument that will ensure many years of enjoyment throughout the life of the piano.

The Back:
 The back of a vertical piano, or the bottom in the case of a grand, is the piano's foundation, and must be strong and stable.

The Soundboard:
 The soundboard is the heart of the piano that converts the vibrations of the strings into the tone of the piano. Its purpose is to convert the vibrations of the strings into sound.

 Spruce is the wood of choice that top quality pianos manufactures use for their soundboards. Pianos of lesser quality might use plywood for the soundboard.

Bass and Treble Bridges:
Complete accuracy of the bass and treble bridges is vital for the transfer of the string vibrations to the soundboard (resulting in the fine tonal quality from the lowest bass string to the highest treble).

The Pin Block:
The pin block runs the width of the piano and is attached to the back of the piano. The tuning pins keep the piano in tune by maintaining the correct string tension. Defective pin blocks can be replaced on grand pianos but it is nearly impossible to replace a vertical piano's pin block. Loose pins are usually the result of excessive dryness over a period of time. The single most important thing is that the pin block is properly designed and the holes are drilled accurately.

 Hard rock maple is the material of choice in high quality pianos.
 

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The Piano Plate:
  The piano plate is made of cast iron and is attached to the back frame must resist tons of string tension.

Pedals:
Most pianos have three pedals... some with just two pedals are usually made overseas.
  • The left pedal when depressed, shifts the action slightly to on one restricting the hammers to only strike two strings not the usual three strings. This makes the piano sound softer.
  • The right pedal is called the damper and when depressed lifts the damper off of the string allowing the string to sound until the pedal is released.
  • The middle pedal on some pianos maintains the bass. On others, it maintains a single note or individual chord.

 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Candelabra

  The word candelabra derives its origin from the Latin word "candelabrum" which means candlestick.

  Even though candelabras come in all shapes and sizes...all candelabra's hold more than one candlestick and the more fanciful versions...usually used with concert grand pianos...hold 20 or more candles that are attached to the top of a decorative base.


Liberace, who was well-known for his flamboyant style, used his trademark candelabra to decorate his piano.



  Candelabras are constructed using numerous materials including, silver, gold, brass, copper, iron or crystal and are available in numerous styles that include table top, aisle and free standing.
 
  Floor candelabras are becoming more popular because the height can be raised allowing for better lighting from any angle focused on the sheet music and the piano keyboard.
 
  Originally used primarily for lighting in the "old days" prior to the availability of electricity, candles are no longer used for piano lighting purposes but are used primarily to create a soft, ambient warmth of the piano and musician.
 
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  Now most concert halls, homes, schools and churches provide an ample amount of lighting that provides a quality environment for that special piano recital for family members.
 
  Modern LED piano lamps are much safer and can be even more beautiful and stylish than the nicest candelabras.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

What is a Metronome.

I've no doubt the debate about whether metronomes are good
or bad will continue, but on one point I think everyone at Bennett Piano Movers will agree...the humble metronome undoubtedly has its use.

Piano players...beginners at least... seldom play the piano at an exact beat so using a metronome helps keep a steady tempo as they play, providing a fixed, rigid, relentless pulse. A metronome is one of the most powerful tools a pianist can use to improve their playing. Period. If you practice a piece regularly with a metronome, you will display greater confidence while performing.

Mechanical Metronomes

The most popular and early mechanical metronomes used an adjustable weight on the end of an inverted pendulum rod to control the tempo and was invented/designed by Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel in Amsterdam in 1814. One of the more common types of metronome is the Wittner Electronic metronome which uses a quartz crystal and simple dials and buttons to adjust the accuracy and tempo.
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Electrical Metronomes

With the invention of electricity, many types of electrical metronomes were developed, Some by people with little knowledge of music and how the instrument was going to be used.
This also made possible the invention of the Franz synchronous electric metronome in 1938. These metronomes were produced through June, 1994.

In 1977 the Franz pendulum metronome was introduced employing improvements in the internal mechanisms enabling them to work on a slanted surface. These devices were produced through 1990.
From 1950 to the present many versions of the electronic metronome including Seth Thomas, Sabine and Metone  have been designed and sold in piano service stores throughout Atlanta.

Digital Metronomes

In the late 1970's digital electronics had developed to the point where it became economically feasible to apply them to the design of a metronome.
The introduction of low cost of microprocessors has made it possible to add other functions including:
• Tuning pitches
• accented beats

Make the Metronome Your Friend

• Buy a metronome with a light.
• Buy a metronome with subdivision capabilities
• Buy a metronome that produces a different sound
• Buy single-function metronomes.
Let’s face it, a metronome can help a piano eventually, so why not start making that new friend today.