Piano Attachment

Piano a coda (It.). GRAND PIANOFORTE.

Piano a prolongement (Fr.). A piano in which sustained sounds could be produced by the simultaneous vibration of free reeds set in motion when the strings were struck in the usual way by hammers. It was made in Paris by Alexandre in the 19th century. (See also SOSTENUTO PIANO.)

Piano a queue (Fr.). GRAND PIANOFORTE.

Piano attachment. A small electronic keyboard that imitates orchestral instruments, normally used as a melody instrument accompanied on the piano with the left hand. It is clamped to, or placed in front of, a piano keyboard with notes of the same pitch aligned. It usually has a range of three octaves and can be set within a total range of five or six octaves. It has between 12 and 22 stop-tabs to control timbre, attack and vibrato. It was invented in the late 1930s and popular until the mid-1950s.

Piano carre (Fr.). SQUARE PIANOFORTE.

Piano droit (Fr.). UPRIGHT PIANOFORTE.

Piano eolien (Fr.: ‘aeolian piano’). A keyboard instrument in which the vibrations of the strings, which are activated by hammers, are sustained by jets of compressed air.

Pianoforte. Name for the piano that derives from the instrument’s capability of being able to sound piano e forte (‘soft and loud’), according to touch.

Pianola. An automatic piano-playing device (see PLAYER PIANO) invented in 1895 by Edwin Scott Votey and made by the Aeolian Corporation. The trademark ‘Pianola’ is frequently misapplied to instruments of other makes.

Pianoline. A PIANO ATTACHMENT, first made in 1950 by Lipp. It was derived from G. JENNY’S Ondioline.


Piano player. Part of the apparatus used in the original form of the PLAYER PIANO.

Piano scande (Fr.). A sostenente piano in which sustained sounds could be produced by the simultaneous vibrations of free reeds set in motion when the strings were struck in the usual way by hammers. It was invented in 1853 by Lentz and Houdart.

Piano tremolophone (Fr.: ‘tremolo piano’). A sostenente grand piano with two keyboards, of which one was exclusively for tremolando notes produced by quick repeated movements of the hammers. It was made by Philippe de Gerard, who patented it in 1842. Similar devices were experimented with as early as 1800 by Hawkins and others.

Pilot. See JACK.

Pin block. Laminated hardwood block in uprights that tuning pins are driven into.

Pitch. The frequency (cycles per second) of the sound. See also at pitch.

Plate pins. (also called hitch pins) Steel pins inserted in the plate that strings tie off to.

Player piano. A piano which automatically plays music recorded, usually, by means of perforations in a paper roll. In the 1890s, the mechanism (piano player) was in a separate cabinet, pushed in front of an ordinary piano. The roll pass over a metal tracker bar with a slot for each note. When a perforation uncovered a slot, suction generated by pedals, operated a pneumatic valve and lever., forcing down a wooden ‘finger’ that projected over the piano keyboard. Tempo, dynamics and the sustaining pedal of the piano were controlled by levers in the front of the cabinet. About 1900 the piano player was built into the piano., with control knobs along the front of the keyboard and pumping pedals underneath. ‘Expression’ pianos, including the Aeolian ‘Themodist’ (c1906), equipped to interpret expressive effects incorporated directly into the music roll, were also produced. The most sophisticated form of the instrument- the reproducing player piano- re-created the nuances in performance of artists such as Paderewski and Rakhmaninov; mechanisms were usually powered by electricity. Well-known models included the ‘Welte-Mignon’ (devised by Edwin Welte, 1904), the ‘DEA’ (Hupfeld, 1905), the ‘Duo-Art’ Welte-Wignon was available in pianos of 115 different makes, including Steinway and Gaveau. Production reached its peak by 1923 with nearly half a million player pianos manufactured in two years, but their popularity declined largely as a result of the Depression and the increased use of the radio and gramophone.

Practice mute. Found in uprights. Activated by lever or middle pedal. Provides muffled softer play for practice purposes.

Prelleiste. A fixed rail, in the primitive Prellmechanik without escapement, with which the hammer beaks engage when a key is depressed.

Prellmechanik. A twentieth-century term used to describe the South-German or Viennese action in which the hammer was mounted directly on the back of the key.

Pressure bar. Steel bars on uprights that frets off the strings just before the tuning pins.

Professional upright. A vertical piano measuring 47″ to 53″ high.

Purchase order (P.O.). A written order for and commitment to pay for goods and services for an institution. It is a binding official document.

Pyramid piano. An early type of upright piano in which the strings run at a slight diagonal, permitting them to be enclosed in a symmetrically tapering case.