Do you remember the gift that your parents got you as a child on which you could play those different sounds? Also, what about those popular rhymes? Yes, I am talking about that instrument with black and white buttons. Piano or Keyboard, also known as Casio in India is one of the most popular musical instruments in India. These white and black keys have the potential to play and produce all musical sounds from scratch to a full fledged song that you hear on your favorite streaming platform.
Elements of Music
The three main elements in music which make you groove to the song – Melody, Rhythm & Harmony are the foundation of any music. The permutation and combination of 12 notes put to a rhythm makes a song. The notes popularly also called Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni or A B C D E F G in western music are represented to identify the notes on the Piano or a Keyboard.
Discovery of The Piano
Let me take you on a journey on the origins of Piano & how we discovered this gigantic instrument.
The history of instruments with keyboards dates far back and originates from the organ, which sends bursts of air through pipes to make sound, mostly used in a church. Craftsmen improved upon the organ to develop an instrument that was a step closer to the piano, the clavichord. The clavichord first appeared in the 14th century and became popular during the Renaissance Era. Pressing a key would send a brass rod, called a tangent, to strike the string and cause vibrations that emit sound over a range of four to five octaves. (An octave is a series of eight notes in a musical scale)
Created in Italy in around 1500s, the harpsichord later spread to France, Germany, Flanders, and Great Britain. When a key is pressed, a plectrum attached to a long strip of wood called a jack plucks the string to make music. This system of strings and soundboard, and the overall structure of the instrument resemble those that can be found in a piano.
The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731) of Italy. Cristofori was unsatisfied by the lack of control that musicians had over the volume level of the harpsichord. He is credited for switching out the plucking mechanism with a hammer to create the modern piano in around the year 1700. The instrument was actually first named “clavicembalo col piano e forte” (literally, a harpsichord that can play soft and loud noises). This was later shortened to the now common name, “Piano.”
Most modern pianos have a row of 88 black and white keys, 52 white keys and 36 shorter black keys, which are raised above the white keys, and set further back on the keyboard. There are mainly two types of Pianos – Grand Piano & Upright Piano. The average weight of a Grand Piano is between 317kg to 500kgs. This makes the pianos very difficult to move from one place to another and can cause space constraints. To make our lives a little easier we have digital pianos which weigh between 12-15kgs and can be easily taken out for live shows and kept at home for practice.
Also, for those who want to learn and master this instrument can now have access to digital pianos and learn piano.
Some Great Piano Players from Western Classical
Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Frederic Chopin, Claude Debussy & Sergei Rachmaninoff are some prominent Piano players from the classical era. These piano players have written some excellent piano pieces that display the full potential of the piano. The pieces have got a very rich melody with left hand either playing harmony or counter melodies. One very famous piano player, Franz Liszt, is the first piano player to introduce the world to solo piano.
Some Great Piano Players from Western Contemporary
Some Prominent Piano & Keyboard Players from the Contemporary World are Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Red Garland, Duke Elllington, Bud Powell, Herbie Hancock, Mccoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Aaron Parks & Shai Maestro. These piano players have explored harmony in a very different way. They have gone beyond the rules of classical music and redesigned the style of playing modern piano.
Discovery of The Keyboard
Piano being an acoustic instrument with strings attached to every key could produce only one kind of sound. There was a need for exploration in terms of new sounds and there came Analog Synthesizers. This allowed the keyboard players to start exploring different sounds and also allowed them to create their own sounds via a simple sine wave. Some modern Keyboard players like George Dukes, Jordan Rudess, Stevie Wonder etc. have defined the usage of these synthesizers in modern music.
As the culture of local bands performing live became popular & music learning being a regular activity in schools, there was a need of having something portable which can be carried and there came keyboards which gave access to both – good action for the players and ample of sounds to play and create patches on the keyboard to play music across genres – Bollywood, Pop, R&B, Blues, Jazz, Funk etc.
Portable keyboards now come in various sizes – 61 keys, 76 keys & 88 keys. There are mini versions as well – 37 keys & 49 keys if space is a very big constraint. These portable keyboards now start from a few thousands of rupees which makes it very affordable for any music enthusiast to play music on keyboard. There are various brands in the market offering keyboards making it very accessible for the learners to learn this instrument.
Music Technology & Online Learning
A constant upgrade in technology and development of keyboards with the hardware inputs, it has become possible to engage digitally with the instrument. Music Learners do not have to hunt to find a good teacher in their vicinity as there is a rise in quality online music learning. There are dedicated softwares which make online learning easy and very effective for the student giving an excellent experience to the learner.
Piano & Keyboards both have the same set of black and white keys. You need to choose what works the best for you and start playing with whatever is available and accessible to you so that the music is alive.
There is no right age to learn music, a little bit of passion and some practice will start tinkling your fingers & create beautiful melodies. So what are you waiting for? Grab your Keyboard and start playing now!
Some Great Piano Players from India
Some notable Piano & Keyboard Players from India are Louiz Banks, Stephen Devassy, AR Rahman, Gulraj Singh, Anurag Naidu, Jarvis Menezes, Rahul Wadhwani & Atul Raninga. These artists have helped India bring a new sound by fusing Indian music with western music.
At Artium Academy, we are making an effort to help learners be comfortable with the instrument they want to play. So, whether you want to play the piano or keyboard, you’ll find support from us throughout your music learning journey.