Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Short History

An interesting history that brings up a couple of things to mull.
The earliest known keyboards date from before 1000 A.D. and were attached to church organs. The keys were as far apart as the organ's pipes and were played with the fists or even the knees.
and

Cristofori had solved most of the practical problems of the hammer mechanism, but his instrument caught on slowly. Though they both had tried out the pianoforte, neither Johann Sebastian Bach nor Georg Frideric Handel composed for it.
.True enough. But it does seem that Bach was fairly interested in the development of the instrument, and was helpful in selling some of the subsequent fortepianos made by Silberman.

If you're curious, there's a very interesting and worthwhile account of Bach's keyboards:

Herr Bach plays not only a quite slow, singing adagio with the most touching expression... he also sustains in such a slow movement a note of the duration of six semiquavers with all the varying degrees of loudness and softness, and this in the bass as well as in the treble.
Link.

You can hear some of Bach's music played on clavichord, the Silbermann fortepiano, and harpsichord here.

2 comments:

Hugh Sung said...

Actually, the earliest known keyboards date back far EARLIER than 1000 A.D. - try starting at around 300 B.C.! The hydraulic water organ, or "Hydraulis" was invented by the Greek engineer Ctesibius of Alexandria. Archaeologists discovered the remnants of the ancient Hydraulis in the city of Dion. The Archaeology channel has a fascinating video on the reconstruction of the Hydraulis, and it is fascinating to both see and hear in action!

Bart Collins said...

Hugh,

That's incredible! I just did a little "googling" and it looks quite remarkable. Thanks !