Development of the Overstrung Scale

The Modern Piano Emerges

By the end of the first quarter of the 19th century, the piano had emerged, but was still on the edge of change. The harpsichord had become itself again, but an althogether different instrument than the newly emerging modern piano. In fact, the innovations made in Europe and the U.S. during the end of the 18th, beginning of the 19th centuries more or less solidified the harpsichord's technology. From then on out, the majority of the craftsworkers focused their attention on the piano.

But also, the piano was itself still changing rapidly. Copyrights, patents and trademarks were becoming ever more important. The piano market was at a pitch. The introduction of the full one-piece, cast-iron plate created sudden, unmistakable change. Customers and artists were just getting used to the square grand design when pianos were introduced that no longer even resembled square grands. Technology had found a way to solve the problem of volume and control, and this solution dictated the new shape. It was the heavy metal backbone. That single invention would eventually relegate the square grand to little more than collectible memories.

Next >> Next: The Overstrung Scale: Steinway's Contribution to an Exciting Time

Sachs, Curt. The History of Musical Instruments. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1940.