Musical Instrument History

I am the piano. You probably all know what I am. Yes, the black instrument with flat row of black and white keys, commonly used as an accompanying instrument for choirs. Or if you are a jazz or classical music lover, you probably have seen me in orchestras, smaller ensembles, or as a solo instrument. However, I was not always what I am now. There is a very long history in my invention, which began centuries ago.

I was founded on earlier technological innovations. The invention of me began as early as the Middle Ages, where several attempted to create stringed keyboard instruments with struck strings. The seventeenth century, the era of Bach, saw the mechanisms of keyboard instruments becoming well known. The clavichord, or clavier, struck strings with tangents. The harpsichord’s design also influenced the design of myself, as it showed the best ways to construct the case, soundboard, and bridge for the hammered string keyboard instrument.

We can all thank Bartolomeo Cristofori, an Italian harpsichord designer, for creating me, around 1700. I, the piano, am basically a keyboard instrument with the combinations of the good parts of the harpsichord and clavichord. The clavichord, like me, allowed for control of the sound and volume but was too soft for public performances. The harpsichord was the opposite of the clavier. Cristofori’s goal was to create an instrument that would strike string with a hammer, but would immediately bounce off.

For seventy years, from 1790 to 1960, the Mozart-era version of me evolved so much into what I am today. The reason why I was changed and modified so much was due to composers and performers demanding an instrument with a more powerful, sustained sound. In addition, my keys have also gotten heavier, a complaint commonly heard among performers. This has made certain music harder to play than it was in the past. The Industrial Revolution allowed the composer and performers’ requests to be fulfilled, as the supply of high quality piano wire surged during that period. They also modified my tonal range. In Mozart’s day, I could only go five octaves. Today, I go up to 7⅓ octaves. I have been that way since the mid-1800’s.

Over many years of evolving, I have proven to be a timeless instrument. Even though I am extremely expensive and very difficult to move, unlike a violin or clarinet, my versatility has made me one of the world’s most loved and well-known musical instruments. Perhaps this is why so many parents sign their kids up for piano lessons, or why I am the most popular accompanying instrument. In short, the history of myself proves to be one of the longest, and most amazing histories of any music instrument. If you go on Youtube, you can see many videos of great performers like Lang Lang who perform on me almost every day, in solo recital or with orchestra. Maybe your friend has a recital coming up. Or maybe you yourself do. In any case, remember, that I am one of the world’s most timeless and popular instruments.    


Final Performance Music

“Viva La Vida”

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to roamI used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
“Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can’t explain
Once you go there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn’t believe what I’d become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh, who would ever wanna be king?


Classical Composers

Column 3

Georg Friedrich Händel: 

  • Born February 1685
  • Baroque composer
  • Started three opera companies
  • Died 1759
  • One of the greatest Baroque composers

Signature Piece – “Hallelujah” chorus from “Messiah”


Frederic Chopin:

  • Romantic composer
  • Born 1810
  • Was Polish
  • Moved to Paris
  • Died in 1849
  • Was a piano teacher in high demand

Signature Piece – Heroic Polonaise


New York Jazz

In Harlem, precursors of jazz music developed at the same time as New Orleans jazz started. The center for jazz development then moved to New York after New Orleans musicians moved from New Orleans to Chicago and then to New York. The most prominent of these musicians was Duke Ellington, who brought a generation of young jazz musicians with him to New York City.

New York has multiple annual jazz festivals, such as the Blue Note Jazz Festival in the Radio City Music Hall, which lasts for one month. Other festivals include the Vision Festival in Brooklyn and the Essentially Ellington Festival. Jazz nightclubs in the city include the Jazz Standard and the Iridium.

“Blue Skies” – Ella Fitzgerald (“Popular” jazz)

“Take the ‘A’ Train” – Duke Ellington (standard jazz)

“Sing Sing Sing” – Benny Goodman (Swing)

New York Jazz Notes

  • Miles Davis, a New Yorker, was considered one of the foremost musicians and composers of the 20th century. He was also a major innovator in the field of “cool jazz.”
  • With Duke Ellington’s move to New York, the major center for jazz development moved from Chicago to NYC. Many jazz musicians followed Ellington to New York City.
  • New York’s big jazz bands, unique among jazz groups of the time, eventually created swing music from jazz. These bands also contained notables such as Ella Fitzgerald and Benny Goodman.
  • Bebop music also was made in New York City, being a derivative of swing music, which was in turn a derivative of standard jazz music. Bebop reached its peak in the 1940s.
  • New York City musicians also fused jazz with ragtime. This combination invented swing music.
  • John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman brought the relatively new style of “free jazz” to New York by moving there. 






Rap Rhymes Analysis

Song: “When I’m Gone” clean version – Eminem


Have you ever loved someone so much
You’d give an arm for
Not the expression
No, literally give an arm for
When they know they’re your heart
And you know you were their armor
And you will destroy anyone who would try to harm her
But what happens when karma
Turns right around to bite you
And everything you stand for turns on you despite you


  • Few internal rhymes
    • “you” and “you” is the only obvious internal rhyme
  • Many end rhymes
    • Ex. “arm for” and “armor”, “you” and “you”, “harm her” and “armor”.

Meaning of Lyrics:

Eminem is expressing his emotions at a situation where he loves and is protective of a certain woman/girl but then,  everything he believes in turns against him. In his actual life, the woman/girl referred to in the song actually refers to both his divorced wife and his daughter.