If you’ve ever seen a world-class pianist playing a great piece of music, like a Beethoven sonata, you’ll understand that it takes amazing physical, intellectual, and emotional brilliance to play such a complex instrument in such a captivating way, and only a tiny proportion of the world’s pianists are up to the job, but it’s not just the musician who makes the music sound so fantastic: the instrument plays a huge part too.
Let’s take a closer look inside a piano and find out how it works. A piano sounds quite unlike any other instrument and, if you heard it on the radio, you’d probably never guess how it was making a noise. The confusing thing about a piano is that it’s two different kinds of instrument in one: it’s a string instrument, because the sounds are made with strings, but it’s also a percussion instrument (like a drum) because the strings make sounds when something hits them. Listen to the music of a composer like Bartok and you’ll often hear the piano being played percussively almost beating like a drum.
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