Evolution of keys in a piano

Evolution of Keys in a Piano – Brief History

How many keys in piano board?

Know the number of keys for piano!

Through its more than 300 years of evolution, a lot of things have changed in the pianos.  But the black and white keys remain the same to give the sound resembling a million colors.  There is a wise saying that “the piano ain’t got no wrong notes.” It is because it is an orchestra with eighty-eight keys.  And the talented piano player has to play all of them to get great music. If not, then touching the wrong key could make the piano scream like a monster.  In other words, the piano is like life to give the good to get back the best or vice versa.

Evolution of keys in a piano:

Interestingly the first piano made by Bartolomeo Cristofori in 1709 had only 60 keys.  Then, it was considered as the better alternative to the existent xylophones with only 40 keys. These 60 keys of the harpsichord modification were recognized as its revamp to represent five octaves, as each octave had 12 notes.  In the 1800 of Beethoven period, the 60 keys were increased to 72 keys. Slowly they evolved to 88 keys to represent seven octaves each with 12 notes to give perfect sounds. Only a few attempts were made to go beyond the 88 keys limit for pianos.  It is because most composers do not write music that includes music beyond the 88 keys.  Also, notes higher than these 88 keys were not easy to hear by the human ear as they cannot distinguish the notes of the excess keys.

But from the early days of 40 to 60 to 88 keys in pianos, the evolution has taken a full round now with both the 88 key pianos available along with even the 25 key Small MIDI controllers. Now the number of keys depends more on the type of music played and the space and price restrictions for the pianos. But some companies still make pianos with 102 keys, which are super grand pianos and costs $300,000.

Also read: Benefits of Learning and Playing Piano

The importance of 88 keys in a piano:

88 keys in a piano

The standard 88 key pianos are the most used for professional purposes. Though it is not essential for beginners due to its higher cost and needs the expertise to play, it is still the preferred keys structure for many experienced players. They not mind its cost or its maintenance or even its space requirements and only go for the 88 keys full-sized pianos. It is because of many reasons including

  • It provides the possibility to play a wide variety of music notes
  • It enables to compose many music notes easy and fast.
  • Music composers feel that only 88 keys give all they need to create impressive music.
  • It also can fit any subtle emotion and expression.
  • The high and low notes contrast is just right only with 88 keys pianos.
  • Music experts believe that increasing the 88 keys could result in awkward piano playing.
  • They also feel that the human ear cannot listen to such music with proper understanding or pleasure.

Read more: When was the Harpsichord Invented – The History of Harpsichord

The black and white keys:

Pianos have evolved a lot in the last three centuries, including the number of keys.  From forty, it went to 102 or even 108 and now came to as low as 25 keys. But one thing that never changed is the black and white color of the keys. Some also prefer the white as the happy keys and the black as the sorrow keys and psychologically compare piano to life. They say to lead a peaceful life,  anyone has to strike both the white and black keys or the happy and sorrow keys in the same way to have a balanced and happy life.

But coming to reality from the psychological aspect of the black and white keys, there are 52 white keys and 36 keys. But why more white keys and less of black keys is a natural question.

The 52 white keys represent the musical tones of A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.  The black keys represent only the half=step intervals between the notes and are known as sharps and flats.  Also, a group consisting of seven white keys and five black keys make up an octave, which has 12 notes.

Relevant reading: Piano Key Sizes – Dimensions of Different Piano Keys

Difference between black and white keys in a piano

  • Out of the 88 keys in piano, there is 52 white keys and 36 black keys.
  • The white and black are not arranged one after the other in an arranged way.
  • Between some white keys, there are black keys, and for some, there are no black keys, and it is the reason that only 36 black keys are there for the 52 white keys.
  • Each white key represent a note, and the black keys are only the half stop intervals between the notes
  • The black keys are smaller in size and are also not spaced the same way as white keys.
  • Since there are no semitones or halftones between all two notes, there are also no black keys between accordingly.

76 keys pianos:

76 keys pianos

Electric pianos come with 76 keys, and they have their advantages.  But they cannot provide the whole range and variety of tunes that a 88 keys piano does.  But to its affordable price and size, it is more than enough for many people worldwide.  Though not preferred by professionals or great music lovers, it is idle for new piano players. Since they are smaller and portable, they are the first choice for the intermediate piano players between the beginners and the professionals.  It is because they can be taken anywhere for practice with ease apart from being affordable to buy. Also, they come with the additional benefit of being split into half. It enables both the student and the teacher to play on each side of the keyboard. It makes the piano learning process easier for both the teacher and the student.

Read more: Casio New Privia Digital Piano Models

The number of keys a beginner needs in a piano:

Now from the above facts, it is ascertained that the professionals, music enthusiasts, experts, and experienced piano players prefer the 88 keys piano.  For the new learners, it is the 72 keys for easy learning by carrying it anywhere they want with its small size and portability.  But what is the number of keys in a piano that a beginner may find easy and affordable to buy?

With the evolution of pianos in the last few decades, many are now beginning to learn piano. Also, with technological development, anyone can learn piano from anywhere anytime with many online courses. They only need a piano with the right number of keys for their learning.  Hence the beginner should check the following details before buying the piano with the right number of keys combined with other factors.

  • For any beginner, it is not essential to have a grand 88 key piano as it will take a while to master piano playing
  • The space available is crucial as it should not become a hindrance to normal living
  • The essential is the cost, and not everyone can afford $300,000 for a piano or many others, which are even half or far less this amount.
  • There are now compatible MIDI  or musical instrument digital interface piano for a few thousands of dollars.

Hence start learning piano by buying the one with the right number of keys and price to have a happy life.

Also read: Roland E-80 Music Workstation Keyboard

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