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 Post subject: why we increased the width of the keys?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2006 9:59 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:38 am
Posts: 647
Location: Sydney, Australia
Hi all,
I was always curious about the increaseof key width since 1900(?), back to old days the keys are narrorwer, I was wondering is that to do with a better fed and bigger build of this 2 generation compared to old days. You noticed that the beds are much shorter compared to modern days.

Would this to do with our hands,,,,our hands are larger and thicker and inorder to met the "market demand" the piano manufacture has to increase the key width inorder to fit the player??

Please explain?

Thanks


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:57 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 5:29 am
Posts: 692
Location: Germany
Good question. I have an old upright from 1892, and the key depress way is shorter. The key widht however is the same as nowadays.
The main difference beside the shorter key way, is in my case not only that the key downweight is lesser. More important, the hammer mass is less - the hammers are considerably smaller, lighter. So the dynamic weight is less. The result is that one needs less force for "normal" playing, and loud playing is not so forceful. The advantage is, I have the feeling that I can press down the key very slowly, still a soft tone can be heard. If I press very slowly nowadays heavy keys with heavy hammers will not hit the strings. It is almost impossible for me on this old upright, that I press a key very slowly and don't hear the note.

Reason? Maybe nowadays one is used to louder sounds, at concert hall, at home, everywhere. Big hammers, strong string tension, iron frame - this helps to get a fuller, louder sound. Does it sound better - I have my doubts ...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 7:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:38 am
Posts: 647
Location: Sydney, Australia
Thansk pal,
yes, you have got the point. I have played the old german piano-3 crowns????? my hands kept hitting the back of the key board when playing plonaise-I can only play soft-indeed. But I felt it might be to fragile to play ff after playing the stanadard modren grand.
So less weight means softer......


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2006 5:57 am 
Octave spans in modern standard pianos (excluding special made versions) run between 164 and 165 mm.

The list below shows various standard pianos throughout the 2-1/4 century history of pianos. There is zero identifiable trend of increasing keyboard span. Individual pianos throughout history may have varied by less than a few mm span per octave. 1mm difference equals approximately 1/25th of an inch. At the time of typing, the data were assembled into columns. Upon previewing the text, all of the columns had been collapsed.

Where do you get your information that the keyboard has been constantly expanding?


Name Date Octave Span Compass Type

Anonymous c. 1825 160 mm D-D Lyre Piano
Bayes & Co 1793 162 mm F-F Square
Beyer 1777 162 mm F-F Square
Brinsmead & Sons c. 1885 165 mm A-A Upright
Broadwood & Son 1792 163 mm F-F Grand
Broadwood & Son 1795 164 mm F-F Square
Broadwood & Son 1798 164 mm F-F Square
Broadwood & Son 1801 164 mm F-F Grand
Broadwood & Son c. 1815 164 mm F-F Square
Broadwood & Sons c. 1820 164 mm C-C Grand
Broadwood & Sons c. 1820 164 mm F-F Square
Broadwood & Sons 1823 165 mm C-C Grand
Broadwood & Sons c. 1830 164 mm C-C Cabinet Upright
Broadwood & Sons c. 1848 166 mm C-C Grand
Broadwood & Sons c. 1850 165 mm A-A Grand
Broadwood & Sons c. 1870 163 mm C-C Upright
Cristofori 1720 164 mm C-F Grand
Clementi & Co. c. 1804 164 mm ??? Upright Grand
Clementi & Co. c. 1815 164 mm F-F Grand
Clementi & Co. c. 1815 161 mm F-F Square
Clementi & Co. c. 1821 165 mm C-C Grand
Clementi & Co. c. 1822 164 mm C-C Grand
Clementi & Co. c. 1825 164 mm F-F Upright
Clementi & Co. 1825 164 mm F-F Upright
Collard & Collard c. 1835 166 mm F-F Grand
Collard & Collard c. 1835 165 mm F-F Square
Collard & Collard c. 1835 165 mm F-F Grand
Erard Freres 1901 160 mm F-F Square
Erard 1866 165 mm A-A Square
Fritz c. 1815 160 mm F-F Grand
Ganer 1784 162 mm F-F Square
Graf 1830 160 mm C-C Grand
Graf 1826 160 mm C-C Grand
Hancock 1779 164 mm F-F Grand
Henschker c. 1779 164 mm F-F Grand
Jakesch c. 1832 159 mm C-C Grand
Jones & Round c. 1840 165 mm ?-? Upright Grand
Kearsing c. 1831 165 mm F-F
Lengerer 1790 163 mm F-F Grand
Longmann & Lukey 1780 162 mm ?-? Square
Mercier 1831 163 mm F-F Upright
Pape 1884 163 mm C-C Upright
Pape 1843 163 mm C-C Upright
Pleyel c. 1840 164 mm F-F Upright
Pleyel et Compagnie 1842 164 mm C-C Grand
Rosenberger c. 1800 159 mm F-F Grand
Sauer c. 1805 160 mm F-F Pyramid piano
Southwell c. 1800 164 mm F-F Upright
Stodart 1787 162 mm F-F Grand
Stodart 1802 162 mm F-F Grand
Stodart 1807 161 mm F-F Square
Streicher 1867 166 mm A-A Grand
Zumpe & Buntebart 1769 162 mm G-G Square



Barrie Heaton Dip. AEWVH, MABPT, FIMIT, CGLI (hon.), MMPTA (USA) © copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2006 7:12 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 5:29 am
Posts: 692
Location: Germany
Thanks, jcfeli, for clarification on key width / octave span. My own pianos (upright from 1892 and Steinway Grand from 1935) have same octave span too.

Since you are an organ player too, it seems to me that organs have smaller octave spans. Or maybe only the ones I just play on. Do you have any information whether regarding organ manual octave spans? And is there a standard for pedal octave spans on organ?
Sorry for getting off topic regarding piano...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 06, 2006 7:08 pm 
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Posts: 647
Location: Sydney, Australia
thanks Jc, the information was great. So a small variant by 1 mm over 8 keys is 8 mm.....thats no problems for people with the big hand span but vice versa for the little hand span. Dny you agree/???


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 6:03 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 5:29 am
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Location: Germany
Quote:
thanks Jc, the information was great. So a small variant by 1 mm over 8 keys is 8 mm.....thats no problems for people with the big hand span but vice versa for the little hand span. Dny you agree/???


John, it is a variant of 1mm over 8 keys, not over 1 key! That's why really no problem.

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Olaf Schmidt


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2006 7:21 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:38 am
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Location: Sydney, Australia
thanks Pal, my human error again.....XXXXXXX

By the way, next time when you go to the piano shop or comparing the old pianos CHECK for the gaps between the keys. I turely noticed that some old pianos (upright) and German grands has a WIDER key gaps jcompared to the Jap model...this is just visually noticed. Would this too do with re-conditioned work by the technician??? or just a differenrnt manufacture spec????


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 4:13 am 
because of mcdonalds and peoples fingers getting fatter


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 9:44 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:29 pm
Posts: 170
Location: Ede, Netherlands
megaronin wrote:
because of mcdonalds and peoples fingers getting fatter


ROFL!

I noticed this too. Maybe it could be true... There are really many pianists who have hands that are too big to fit between 2 black keys, so they have to play the white keys at their very end.

That's the old Steinways.

With the new Yamaha's they have no problem. Seems like people's hands are really getting bigger.

Maybe it's just because people grow bigger nowadays.

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Yiteng

"Without music, life would be a mistake."
Friedrich Nietzsche


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