When people talk about piano history, they usually say that the piano originated around the year 1700 in Florence, Italy.
Florence is the capital city of Tuscany, a central region of Italy, and the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.
In 1709, the “pianoforte” was first revealed as the invention of an Italian harpsichord maker named Bartolomeo Cristofori.
Cristofori based his new design on the wooden frame of a harpsichord and implemented a unique keyboarding mechanism that was similar to that of a clavichord.
Since its inception, the instrument we know today as the piano has had many innovators over the past 300 years who have shaped its functionality, appearance and sound.
But even this does not tell the complete story of piano history, whose origins trace back to the first air-powered and stringed instruments developed and used in ancient civilizations.
The First Musical Instruments
It has long been a theory that the first musicians were actually hunters who experimented with ordinary hunting tools such as, the bow and arrow, and the blowgun to create the earliest sounds of music.
For instance, the basic principle of the panpipe (or pan flute) was likely derived from primitive blowguns used to peruse small game across tropical rain forests.
Hunters soon realized that different tones (or notes) could be produced as pipes of varying lengths and thickness were blown into.
Piano history was also shaped by the world’s first stringed instrument, the harp. Encouraged by the harmonic plucking sound of a hunter’s bow and arrow, the harp was born way before the days of early antiquity. In fact, its been around so long that it has even been mentioned in the Book of Genesis in the Bible.
The modern piano keyboard was first established during the 13th century of Medieval Europe. It is made up of twelve basic notes that repeat in a black and white pattern across a layout of 88 wooden keys.
Although this enduring image has become synonymous with the word “piano”, it was actually the preceding ancestors of the pianoforte that were first to bear this basic design.
However, there was a time when the piano note chart was still in its infancy and quite unrecognizable by today’s standards.
During the first half of the middle ages, early keyboard players were still trying to figure out how many musical notes there were to play.
Ultimately, it took more than 2000 years of piano history before the “pianoforte” finally became what it is today:
Take This Musical Journey Back to the 15th Century and Meet the Original Piano Keyboard Family
The Complete Piano History
How The Piano Note Chart Was First Conceived:
Have you ever wondered why the black keys on the piano are arranged in groups of twos and threes? Or why they stopped naming the notes after the letter "G"? Here you'll learn the scientific facts behind how and why the piano note chart was first developed.
How The Renaissance Time Period Shaped The History Of The Piano: It was during the renaissance time period that musicians first got the idea of attaching the strings of a harp to the keyboard of a church organ. However, piano history is said to have begun in 18th century Italy, when this descendant of the harpsichord was first introduced to the world as the "pianoforte".