I remember when I was growing up going to different friends' houses, they almost all had pianos. This was years before I started teaching private piano lessons in Tigard. Have you ever wondered, why are pianos so popular?
Pianos are so popular for three reasons, they are the perfect first instrument to learn, they are an instrument you can play and sing at the same time, composers/musicians love them because they cover almost the whole spectrum of frequencies, from low to high.
Pianos were invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Italy. Bartolomeo invented the piano because up until then most people were playing harpsichords, and you cannot control the dynamics of a harpsichord. This is because a harpsichord is plugged. So he invented the piano. When you play the piano the string is struck by a small felted hammer and this way you can control the dynamics of the instrument.
If you want to play loud you press the key down hard and the hammer strikes the three strings strongly, creating a loud note. If you want to play quietly you press the key down softly in this strikes the three strings gently creating a softer note. And if you want to be really quiet when you're playing the piano you can press down the damper pedal with your foot, then press the key down softly this only strikes one of the strings creating the softest know you can on the piano.
Italy has such a rich musical tradition that of course the piano was beloved when it was invented there. It was also very useful for classical composers because they cover the full range of notes an entire orchestra can play. Beethoven even used a piano when he was deaf. He cut the legs off of the piano and rested on the floor so he could feel the vibrations through the ground.
We should all be really grateful for Bartolomeo’s invention because the harpsichord is kind of a painful instrument to listen to. The piano, on the other hand it's a very beautiful sounding instrument with many different tones and colors.
Pianos are so popular because they're awesome! But seriously, pianos are popular because they are so useful for professional musicians and beginners alike. Pianos are great instruments to learn on because you can see all the notes laid out in front of you.
This is unlike an instrument like the flute where there's nothing to look at or even the trombone where there's very little to look at. Even with the violin it's hard to look and see the notes laid out in front of you. The first instrument I Learned was the trombone, and it was very confusing for me to learn about whole steps and half steps in music. This is because on trombone sometimes when you want to play a half step you actually have to move the slide really really far. So I didn't understand how two notes can be a half step away if you have to extend your arm to full-length to go between the two notes. But on the piano this is obvious.
Pianos are the perfect instrument to learn about music on because everything's laid out in front of you. You can even if you need to put little stickers on the keys with the names of the notes. You can see the patterns of music laid out in front of you and this makes it easier to grasp. Music is an abstract thing after all and it's helpful to have a visible representation, especially when you're learning. Even though pianos are incredible for learning about music, they are not necessarily a good financial investment. If you want to learn more about that check out this article:
Another great thing about pianos is the relatively easy to play… or at least make it sound on. Some instruments take time and practice just to make a simple sound, but not the piano though. I guarantee you can make a beautiful sound of a piano with one second of practice. This is why they're also great for children. Any child can walk up to the piano and press down a key and hear the sound. Not every child can walk up to a violin and make a beautiful sound on their first day.
Pianos are also very beneficial for learning how chords work. Yet again because you can see the notes laid out in front of you you can see the structures of common chords. You can see the difference between a major chord and a minor chord, that's the difference between a happy sounding chord and a sad sounding chord.
Musicians love pianos because the piano covers the full spectrum of notes, well almost the full spectrum of notes. If you want to write a complex piece of music such as an orchestral piece it's very helpful to have a piano. This way you can play the notes that the bases will be playing and you can play the notes with the cellos will be playing and you can play the notes that the flute will be playing. it's all laid out in front of you.
Pianos are also very popular with contemporary musicians as well. They're beneficial for singer-songwriters because they can play a chord and sing at the same time. You could also just play the melody that you are going to sing out on the piano. It's very difficult to write a pop song if you only play trombone. You would have to play a note then sing a little and then play another note. But Elton John can just play chords and hum and slowly write a song.
Keyboards are even more popular nowadays with contemporary artists because you can make them play any sound. Lots of popular artists play their drums out on a keyboard. You just program the keyboard to play different drum sounds for each different note and then you can play a whole drum set. You can also program music into a computer using a keyboard; this is very helpful as well. You can create many different sounds on the computer using digital synthesizers and the way you make those sounds is by pressing the keys on a keyboard hooked up to your computer.
An even crazier way to use a keyboard as you can use it for sampling. This is when you take a pre-recorded piece of music and play it by pressing a key on a keyboard. But maybe that's a topic for another time.
Most people use a piano to compose music because you can play chords and Melodies at the same time. That's something that's very difficult to do on a guitar, which is another instrument that you can play chords on.
When I'm composing a new song I like to play chords in the left hand and play the melody in the right hand, this way I can hear how they sound together. Or another way I like to compose is playing chords with both hands and humming the melody. Then another convenient part of the piano is if you want to do harmonies with the melody you can easily play those with two fingers. At this point it should be very obvious why people like to compose music with pianos. This is why pianos are so popular.
Another benefit of composing music on a piano is you can easily show the song to a fellow composer. It's quite common when you write a new piece of music to show it to someone else by playing on the piano. It's a little more Awkward to show someone a new song on a horn or string instrument because they can't always hear the context in the chords below the melody. Another added benefit of showing someone a new song on a piano is they can see as well as hear the harmonic structure below the melody and follow along with the different chord changes.
In conclusion, I hope this article has shown you why piano is such a popular instrument. I recommend that anyone who is interested at least buy a keyboard and start playing around. And if that is fun for you maybe you should go out and buy a piano, or at least pick up a free piano that people are giving away. I certainly know that my musicality improved greatly once I started playing piano. It really is a beautiful and very useful instrument and we should all be thankful that it was invented in Italy way back when. I don't know what we would do if it had never been invented. We would probably miss out on a lot of great music!