Sunday, 6 May 2012

Piano Action and Keys

The piano action and keys are the great link between the pianist and the music heard by the listener. This sophisticated mechanism is capable of a vast range of dynamics and expression - it is a masterpiece of engineering. Every one of the eighty-eight notes has it’s own key, it’s own hammer, it’s own strings and it’s own set of levers. 
The movement created by depressing the key, is delivered to the hammer via a series of levers. The hammer strikes the string - thus generating the audible musical sound of the chosen note.

The design of the piano action has altered very little over the last 120 years or so, which means that the basic piano action design was perfected long before the computer was even thought of - let alone being brought in to help. Those who devoted themselves to the task of developing the piano action, used sheer inventiveness and dedication to get their ideas to work.

A grand piano action

A quote from a book about piano action design by Walter Pfeiffer: “...the action is that much closer to perfection the less the player is aware of it” 

The modern piano has the potential to achieve this lofty state of function. Pianists, not having to worry about the technical aspects of the mechanism, are free to give themselves to making music. 

Technicians strive to get the very best out of a given piano. With their detailed understanding of the workings of the action, the piano becomes far more than just a machine. The less the player is aware of the mechanism, the more able is the artist to explore that mysterious zone only a musician understands - and thus the piano is to closer to perfection. 

The Piano World

© Steve Burden 

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