Look at the keys of a piano. Press a key, and a sound comes out. It’s that simple, right? If only it were actually that simple.
In reality, we have a huge array of strings, hammers, and dampers. In fact, each key actually has its own little set.
The first main critical portion of the piano is the strings. Without this crucial section, there’s no sound that can possibly be produced. Just like in the cello or violin, the vibrations of the strings are what create the different pitches and notes.
With the lower pitches, you run into thicker, shorter strings, while the higher notes are comprised of thin, longer strings. My credibility? I’m no scientist, but I have a degree in piano physics (yea, I made that up).
The Basics of How the Piano Works
Now, what happens every time you hit a note is that these strings are hit by the hammers. These hammers aren’t your average pound-a-nail-into-the-wall hammer; rather, they’re pieces of wood that are tightly wrapped in felt.
Whoa whoa whoa. You’re probably thinking, “What in the world is ‘felt?’” To put things simply, felt is the material that prevents the wood from hitting the metal. Otherwise, it would create a clanking noise.
As the tone becomes progressively lower, the hammers start getting larger, which is why the lower keys feel heavier. When the key is hit, the hammer immediately strikes two or three strings before instantly coming back again.
Even as you hold that note down on the piano, the hammer is already back in position, as if it never struck the strings at all. It would actually be a problem if the hammers did not come back up.
If the hammer were to stay on the strings, the strings would not vibrate. The result? No sound. The delicate differences between the strings’ thickness and lengths and the hammers’ sizes are what create the different notes.
However, these minute vibrations aren’t enough to produce a full-blown sound. Instead, they need to be amplified through the use of a soundboard. These rest beneath the strings of the piano and help the vibrations.
Once you’re all finished with playing that specific note, you release that key. This causes the damper to move back into position and stop the vibration of the string, discontinuing the sound.
Hold on just a second. Didn’t I just say that the hammers move away from the strings, which allows the strings to vibrate? Now, they stop vibrating? Am I crazy? What’s a damper anyway?
Yes, the hammer moves away from the strings, which allows them to vibrate. In addition, while holding the note, the damper moves back so that the string is allowed to make its little motions and create sound.
However, the sound needs to stop eventually, and that’s the dampers’ job. When you let go of a key, the damper stops the vibrations, which ends the sound.
The “Advanced” Material on Piano
After looking at these basics, we can move onto the little extra things in the piano. The tuners would be one of them. Connected to those thick and thin strings are these small pieces of metal that control the sound of the piano.
By pulling them tighter, the sound becomes higher. On the other hand, loosening the strings causes the pitch to drop. Of course, most pianos should be set so that they’re in tune, which means that each string is in agreement with its neighbors.
Then, you have the pedals. By pressing the pedal on the right, a sustained sound is produced, as all the dampers are lifted up. This pedal is called the sustain pedal (aka damper pedal).
When pressing the middle pedal of a grand piano, the dampers that are currently removed will stay that way, while others will stay down. This way, you can hold some notes while releasing others. On the upright, it’s slightly different.
The middle pedal will actually mute the sound by placing a piece of felt between the string and hammer, causing the sounds to be much softer. The left pedal does a similar thing of softening the sound, but through shifting the hammers. When the keys are pressed, the hammers would instead hit fewer strings than before, causing a softer sound.
The piano is an incredible instrument with a much more complex system than it would appear to have. It’s beautiful to hear the piano but it’s also amazing to see the inner mechanisms in action.
All the pieces work together in complete unison, and it is the pianist who controls everything in those split seconds.
Working Of A Piano Keyboard
The piano keyboard is the musical instrument which is played by means of the keyboard. This is one of the most popular instruments in the world of music. The piano is of various kinds and on the basis of different technologies in the world of music, the piano having the keyboard is used in different music performances.
This instrument is widely used in the musical presentations and performances of rock, jazz, solo and various other kinds of performances. Other than these important uses of the piano keyboard it is also used to the ensemble and in accompanying the other musical instruments in the chamber of music.
The importance of piano can also not be denied in case of composing the music and rehearsing by the musicians and singers. There are different kinds of piano keyboard.
Some of these small-sized and are portable while the classic pieces and models of the pianos are not portable and are very large sized. The nonportable versions of the piano are very expensive. It is due to the versatile nature of the piano, and its ubiquity that it is recognized among some of the very few and very well known musical instruments of the musical world.
There are certain musical instruments which are known very well even to those who are not so much familiar with the music. Among these music instruments, the most familiar one is the piano. The classic pieces and models of the piano keyboard are made of large wooden frames in which the keys and string system of the whole keyboard is fixed.
The whole mechanism under which the piano keyboard works is very simple. According to this working mechanism, pressing a key on the main face of the piano will cause the hammer present below the key to striking the strings of steel present beneath.
The hammers, made of metal are covered with felt. When the hammer after striking the strings rebounds, it leaves the strings to vibrate under some specific frequency range. This frequency depends on the striking time period of the hammer on strings. When the strings are allowed to vibrate, they resonate at a specific frequency.
In this way, the sounds and various tones are created in the piano keyboard. As a result of the vibration of strings, the acoustic waves are transmitted in the air and these vibrations or waves will be transmitted to the sounding board. When the key is released, the tuner or the vibrator stops and hence the sound coming from the piano keyboard also stops.
The term piano is the condensed form of the word pianoforte. This symbolizes and Italian term for the instrument. The name of the instrument depicts the creation of sound waves which are produced in contrast with each other.
The production of sound waves greatly depends on the speed with which the key is struck. If the key is struck with greater velocity and greater frequency, it results in the production of a greater force thereby making the hammer to hit the string.