History of the Piano

We thought our Artisan Piano Services customers might be interested in learning a little more about the instrument that they hold so dear! We built this business based on our passion for the piano and it’s unparalleled sound. With our staff of highly trained technicians, we carry on the time-honored tradition of music, art and craftsmanship.

The piano has been around for quite some time. It all began in Padua, Italy in 1709, in the shop of a harpsichord maker named Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori (1655-1731). Many other stringed and keyboard instruments preceded the piano and led to the development of the instrument, as we know it today.

Mankind’s knowledge that a taut, vibrating string can produce sound goes back to prehistoric times. In the ancient world, strings were attached and stretched over bows, gourds, and boxes to amplify the sound; they were fastened by ties, pegs and pins; and they were plucked, bowed or struck to produce sounds.

Eventually, a family of stringed instruments with a keyboard evolved in Europe in the 14th century. The earliest of these was a dulcimer, a closed, shallow box over which stretched wires were struck with two wooden hammers. The dulcimer led to the development of the clavichord, which also appeared in the 14th century. These were followed by the spinet, virginal, clavecin, gravicembalo, and finally, the harpsichord in the 15th century.

The harpsichord, however, was limited to one, unvarying volume. Its softness and loudness could not be varied while playing. Therefore, performing artists could not convey the same degree of musical expression as that of most other instruments. The artistic desire for more controlled expression led directly to the invention of the piano, on which the artist could alter the loudness and tone with the force of one’s fingers.

The harpsichord was a particularly important development leading to the invention of the piano. Its ability to project sound more loudly than its predecessors, and refinements in the action (or touch) inspired many more musicians to compose for the keyboard and thus, to perform keyboard works. First exhibited in Florence in 1709, Cristofori’s new instrument was named gravicembalo col piano e forte (roughly “soft and loud keyboard instrument”). Eventually, it was shortened to fortepiano or pianoforte, and finally just piano. His earliest surviving instrument dates from 1720 and is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Our customers are very passionate about their pianos as is our team here at Artisan Piano Services! Angela, our office manager, has been playing the piano for over 25 years and is our resident piano guru. James, a field technician in our Bellevue location has been a pianist for most of his life, and enjoys playing classical and jazz, along with composing music of his own. Joshua, the lead technician in Bellevue has always loved the piano because it blends music and mechanics in such a unique way. He has been trained by some of the Pacific Northwest’s industry leading technicians such as David (Founder/Owner.) David and Artisan Piano Services’ philosophy has always been the same: to bring old world craftsmanship and care to the modern world of piano service.

Today, Artisan Piano Services has become one of the top piano servicing companies in the Pacific Northwest, with locations in Oregon and Washington and a strong desire to bring quality and craftsmanship to the piano industry, just like the piano builders of the past.

“Time remembers those master artisans whose commitment to tradition and quality gave us a legacy of beauty, art and music. Like piano builders of old, we take great pride in continuing this time-honored tradition of simplicity, elegance and integrity. Our technicians are not only skilled piano tuners, but are also full-service rebuilders and consultants, doing whatever it takes to bring your piano back to its fullest life and potential.”

David Hayes, Founder Artisan Piano Services
Servicing Oregon and Washington

Sources include: History of the Piano. Ontario Pianos Inc.

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