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why we increased the width of the keys?

Discussion in 'The Piano' started by johnmar78, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    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
     
  2. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    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 ...
     
  3. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    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......
     
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    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



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  5. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    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...
     
  6. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    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/???
     
  7. MindenBlues

    MindenBlues New Member Piano Society Artist

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    John, it is a variant of 1mm over 8 keys, not over 1 key! That's why really no problem.
     
  8. johnmar78

    johnmar78 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    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????
     
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    because of mcdonalds and peoples fingers getting fatter
     
  10. lol_nl

    lol_nl New Member

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    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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