Interesting Facts About the Piano
You may have heard the piano referred to as the “King of Instruments.” It is called that for many reasons, most having to do with range. It covers the full spectrum of all of the instruments in the orchestra, from the deep double bassoon, to the high piccolo. There are many other interesting facts about the piano as well, some more well known than others.
Keyboard has 88 Keys
For instance, a standard piano has 88 keys: 36 black keys that play the sharps and the flats, and 52 white keys. Although pianos can range greatly in size—for example, a concert grand piano is almost 12 feet long and weighs about 1400 pounds!—the standard is still just 88 keys. There is also a standard size for the width of the keys.
Frederic Chopin reportedly had a piano custom made with smaller keys to accommodate his smaller-than-average hands.
However, in Chopin’s era, keys were made from actual ivory (hence the term “tickling the ivories”), but that practice stopped in the 1950s, when there began an international outcry against ivory trading, which eventually became an outright ban in 1990.
Incidentally, most pianos take about a year to be made, but the largest piano on record, made by Challen Piano, weighs in at about a ton and took much longer than a year to build. You would definitely need to call or contact Bennet Piano Movers in Atlanta to help move that one!
Piano Notes Range From A-G
Piano notes range from A-G, with middle C being, naturally, in the middle of the keyboard. This is true for all pianos, organs and other keyboards. Interestingly, the piano is both a percussion instrument (because its sound is produced by the hammer striking the string), and as a stringed instrument, which is defined, simply, as “having strings.” Due to the arrangement of the strings, a piano needs to be tuned regularly. Most piano owners contact their local piano tuner and schedule tunings twice a year.
Many famous people are known for the ability to play piano. United States Presidents Harry S. Truman and Richard Nixon were reputedly gifted with musical ability, and Secretary of State Condolezza Rice once strongly considered a career as a pianist before she began making political history. It is reported that Prince Charles of England is an adept pianist as well. Another famous piano player who bears mentioning is Canadian Jason Beck…however, he is not as famous for his skill as he is for his longevity: he set the world record for playing the longest piano solo, playing for 27 hours straight in May 2009!
There is one famous pianist you can’t hear live in United States…Polish pianist Krystian Zimmerman refuses to play in the US because of its military policies. Shortly after 9/11, customs officials at New York City’s JFK airport confiscated and destroyed his piano. They thought the glue smelled “funny” and deemed it to be a risk to national security.
Famous Piano Playing Animals
It should be noted that not only do humans play the piano…there are several documented cases of talented pianists in the animal world as well. Most notable is Dua, a river otter at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium. It is said that she plays piano as an “enrichment exercise” and is quite skilled at picking out a tune and has been working on Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Sounds impossible that a river otter may have that sort of skill, but when you consider that Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his famous symphony, it shows that anything can be accomplished with a combination of effort and talent!