Music with Ease > Beginner Music Theory Lesson for Piano Students: Secret that Could Make or Break Your Piano Music!
Beginner Music Theory Lesson for Piano Students: Secret that Could Make or Break Your Piano Music!
Share this page:
How did the piano get its name? The answer to this question highlights a vital and greatly misunderstood piano part that can make or break your music playing!
The piano was the amazing invention of Bartolemeo Cristofori over three hundred years ago. The original name of Cristofori's groundbreaking invention was the 'Pianoforte' meaning 'soft-loud'.
The forerunners of the piano in Cristofori's time had major shortcomings:
-- The harpsichord had strings that were plucked (unlike the strings of today's pianos that are struck by little hammers). It was able to produce a reasonable volume of sound but it lacked expressiveness. The loudness of the notes was always the same no matter how hard the keys on the keyboard were played. So the music of the harpsichord 'lacked soul'.
-- The clavichord had strings that were struck by little hammers, similar to a modern piano. This instrument was able to produce louder and softer tones in response to the player's touch. However, the overall volume of the clavichord was incredibly soft: you could either play your music quietly or extraordinarily quietly!
The musicians of the world longed for a better solution.
Cristofori's Pianoforte combined the best features of the harpsichord and the clavichord into a revolutionary new instrument. The strings were struck with felted hammers allowing the player to produce loud and soft tones by varying the force on the keys. And the sound was amplified with a crucial soundboard, giving it great potential volume.
Cristofori also added another design feature that was vital in an instrument capable of producing such loud volumes. This feature was padded dampers that controlled the length of time that the strings vibrated after being struck by the hammers.
Using the Pedals to Control the Dampers
In today's pianos, the action of dampers is controlled by foot pedals. Players who do not understand the purpose of piano pedals and how to use these pedals properly can ruin the quality of their music.
The most essential piano pedal for the player of modern popular music is the Sustain Pedal. This is the right hand pedal of the set of foot pedals seen on upright and grand pianos.
By using this pedal correctly, the player can blend multiple sounds together, creating magnificent chords. However, correct timing is vital when using the Sustain Pedal. As a BBC website article said, 'Get it wrong, and the sounds of one chord will ooze inevitably into the next, creating the musical equivalent of a water-logged fruit trifle!'
The correct Sustain Pedal technique is called 'Syncopated Pedalling'. It involves depressing the Sustain pedal immediately after striking a chord, then releasing it at the moment of striking the next chord.
By mastering the use of the Sustain Pedal, today's player of popular piano music can take full advantage of the wonderfully expressive tone and powerful capability of Bartolemeo Cristofori's amazing Soft-Loud machine: the Pianoforte or the Piano.
About the Author:
Betty Wagner of Music With Ease has been teaching music for over 30 years. Her unique multimedia ebooks make learning to play the piano fun, easy and very affordable. Betty has written a detailed guide with embedded sound clips on how to use the Sustain Pedal correctly. This guide is included as a free bonus with Betty's latest ebook on beginner piano chords from the simplest chords to advanced accompaniments. Why not brush up your sightreading with Betty's learn to read music notes ebook, with zany cartoon characters. Or master those tricky ledger line notes with ease: /read-ledger-line-notes.html
Share this page: