The piano is an instrument we all know by now, we can pick out the sound in the most muffled of environments and tell you that the traditional black and white key set-up is something that’s created amazing pieces for a long, long time. The piano itself was developed about 300 years ago, and ever since then it’s been one of the most common instruments you’ll see being played in rehearsal halls across the globe. The harpsichord was the original forefront of sound back in the day, but as soon as the piano came into the picture the melodies and sounds that people could put together took a turn for the best. We forget to remember that people were still trying to be innovative in the past, and although most of their designs and endeavours never made it to the public eye they still offer some sort of merit.
People have always been trying to “better” the original design of the piano, and clearly nobody has succeeded in that regard (not yet anyways, I bet you in thirty or so years we’ll be seeing glass pianos that work with touch technology or something). One of the funkiest developments regarding the piano to look at would be the 4-Row Janko Keyboard, and it really doesn’t get any more bizarre than this. It’s a piano (or a keyboard, whatever you to want to refer to it as) that makes use of horizontal keys (both black and white). It wasn’t anything like the original piano, because it reminded people of a fret board or something as opposed to piano keys. Paul von Janko was the first person to make use of the keyboard, and to be honest it seems like he’s also going to be the last.
Another strange variation of the piano (that couldn’t actually be considered a piano) would be the Australian design that surface in 1911, but this one didn’t make use of a horizontal pattern regarding the keys. This keyboard expanded into the shape-shifting world of the curved keyboard, and as if that wasn’t awkward enough the keys were also lengthened. This significant change threw people off right away, and of course this idea (exactly like the Janko edition) never really caught on. If it isn’t broke than you don’t have to fix it, and it’s pretty obvious that the original piano is something that doesn’t need to be messed about with.
All of this keyboard comparing has people wondering what actually makes a piano, a piano. Some would say the use of keys and the ability to produce chords would make an instrument a piano, but others would state that the sound and vibration that the instrument gives of makes it so. Electric pianos wouldn’t be considered as being a piano to some, but that’s merely because they rely on electric sound waves as opposed to the traditional vibration method. It all depends on how you look at it, but nothing is going to beat the original piano’s grand scheme.
Image credit: Library of Congress