Innovations In The Piano
Piano construction is by now a rather conservative area; most of the technological advances were made by about 1900, and indeed it is possible that some contemporary piano buyers might actually be suspicious of pianos that are made differently from the older kind. Yet piano manufacturers, especially the smaller ones, are still experimenting with ways to build better pianos.
In the early 21st century, the obvious way to raise the technological level of any mechanical device is to use digital technology to control it (compare the mid 19th century, where the obvious route was to make some of its parts from steel; e.g. piano strings). Of course, digital technology has been incorporated into pianos, and this innovation is discussed below. But in a sense, it is a far greater challenge to improve the piano in its own terms, as a mechanical/acoustic device. This challenge pits the modern piano designer against some of the finest engineering minds of the nineteenth century, an era when pianos represented some of the most sophisticated of all technological achievements. Nineteenth century piano innovation was, moreover, financed by a far more robust piano market than exists today.
A final issue is that the modern concert grand, 19th-century technology though it is, already sounds very good indeed in the opinion of many listeners (that is, when it is made by the finest makers and skillfully adjusted and tuned). Any innovative piano must therefore compete in the market of musical taste against formidable existing pianos.
The discussion below is organized according to some innovative contemporary piano manufacturers and the inventions with which they are associated. The Web sites of these manufacturers appear at the end.
For clarification of the various parts of the piano mentioned below, see the Wikipedia article piano.
Read more about Innovations In The Piano: Digital Innovations
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