Moving Music A piano has more than 10,000 moving parts. —robinsonpianoservice.com
You read it first in this week’s The Factory in Guide magazine.
The inner workings of a piano may seem simple enough. First, push a key to move a lever. This lever will activate a special kind of hammer. The hammer will strike a string. The string will vibrate, resulting in a musical note which resonates within the piano and is amplified by the soundboard. But what may seem simple on the surface is actually an intricate and complex piece of engineering.
Did you know that a standard sized piano has 88 individual keys? There are 52 white ones and 36 black ones, with 7 white and 5 black to each octave. Because a piano has over 10,000 movable parts, each key would roughly account for 115 of them! That’s a lot of moving pieces for a single note!
If a piano has 88 keys, how many strings do you think it would have? If you guessed 88, that’s not quite right. It’s kind of a trick question because actually it can vary; but the average piano has over 200 strings! 230 to be exact. The reason for this is because the higher notes need more strings to resonate as loudly as the lower notes do. The highest notes can have as many as three strings to give it that extra boost.
We now know that higher notes have more strings than lower notes, but did you know that they have different dimensions as well? The lower strings are long and thick, and wound with copper. Because of this, its pitch is lower. The high strings are the complete opposite, thin and short with a high pitch.
Have you ever tried to make music with a stretched rubber band? The higher the note, the more tension required to produce it. That means you’d have to stretch the rubber band really far to get a nice high note. It’s the same with a piano. All the strings in the piano have some tension in them to create those nice crisp notes, but the higher ones need a lot more tension to produce what we expect of them. In fact, a piano’s strings combined produce anywhere from 35 to 45 thousand pounds of tension! To keep the piano from imploding (collapsing in on itself), its frame is made of cast iron, a strong and durable metal alloy.
So the next time you sit down to play the piano or hear someone else play it, keep in mind all the more than 10,000 moving parts to make this beautiful music! “…Praise Him with stringed instruments…Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:4-6 NKJV
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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