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The Piano: Silently Influencing The World as We Know It

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Madeleine Booth

on 30 April 2015

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Transcript of The Piano: Silently Influencing The World as We Know It

The Piano:
Silently Influencing the World as We Know It

Madeleine Booth
The Piano: Silent?
You might ask yourself how an instrument as renowned as the piano could silently influence history.
The long and short of the answer is that the piano has influenced a great number of things throughout history: books, academic skills, scientific papers, and even movies. But have you ever heard of the piano influencing these things? My guess would be no.
You see, throughout history the piano has been influential and even crucial to various events or subjects, and not many have made the connection between these events and the piano.
The silent influence of the piano over these various subjects started when it was created in 1700. Its technological advancements in past and present, as well as social, environmental, and personal driving forces allow it to continue to influence the world hundreds of years after its creation.
The Piano: Bartolomeo Cristofori
Bartolomeo Cristofori, the inventor of the piano, was born in Padua, Italy in 1655.
He was hired by the Grand Prince of Tuscany, Ferdinando de' Medici in 1688, to look after the Grand Prince's many instruments and to invent on the side.
Twelve years later, circa 1700, Cristofori created what was in thought, a combination of the Harpsichord (a loud (forte) instrument) and the clavichord (a soft (piano) instrument): the pianoforte.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4d/BartolomeoCristofori.jpg.
Bartolomeo Cristofori
The Piano: Technology
The Piano: Evolution of Technology
Because the piano was a combination of the harpsichord and the clavichord, it in itself was an evolution of technology.

Cristofori fixed the fundamental mechanical problem with the predecessors to the piano (a hammer must strike the string, but not remain in contact with it), which allowed it to be both soft and loud.

This technological improvement led to it being the next evolution of the piano.
Harpsichord
Clavichord
Pianoforte
The Piano: Impact of Technology
Past
Present
When he worked as Keeper of the Instruments for the Medici family, Cristofori mainly worked repairing Harpsichords. He was able to use the technology of the instruments he worked on and fix the problem that plagued the Harpsichord and the Clavichord.

When the Harpsichord hammer hit the steel string , it bounced back violently (making it have little dynamic control). In contrast, the Clavichord hammer remained in contact with the strings (making the sound very soft).

Cristofori created an instrument whose hammer hits the strings and doesn't remain in contact with it, nor does it bounce back violently. He used both the technology within the harpsichord and the clavichord to create an instrument with dynamic flexibility.
The technology influential to the creation of the modern piano was available due to the Industrial Revolution. The turnabout for the piano included high quality piano wire for strings, and precision casting for the production of iron frames.

Because of these technological improvements, Broadwood, a piano making firm, sent pianos to Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven to improve upon their designs. Due to this, Broadwood was able to design the first grand piano with more than five octaves.
http://waltercosand.com/CosandScores/Composers%20E-K/Hoover,%20Cynthia%20A/Harpsichords_and_Clavichords/Harpsichords%20and%20Clavichords_files/i_031.jpg.
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/images/h2/h2_1986.239.jpg.
http://thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com/images3/piano.jpg.
The Piano: Driving Forces & Hindrances
The Piano: Social & Environmental
Social Driving Forces/Hindrances
Environmental Driving Forces/ Hindrances
Politics: The Peace of Cateau-Cambresis (signed by Henry II of France and Philip II of Spain) saw most of Southern Italy (then Sicily) ruled by Spain.

Geography: Spain remained the indirect rulers of Tuscany, which allowed the de' Medici Family to rule in Tuscany (which allowed Ferdinando de' Medici to hire Cristofori to create the piano).

Economy: Florence's business activities (trade, manufacturing, and banking) were on the decline at this time. (This forced Ferdinando to go outside of Florence to hire a Keeper of the Instruments.)
Environment: Piano making flourished in the 1800s, especially at a Viennese school where Johannes Stein produced them. With this increase in production, demand for ivory (used in the keys of the piano), wood (used for the body and hammers of the piano), and steel (used for the strings of the piano) increased.

Because of this increase in demand, the amount of these materials in the environment dwindled.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/Piano_Inside.jpg.
The Piano: Individual Driving Forces
Bartolomeo Cristofori
Ferdinando de' Medici
Little is known about Cristofori's family or beginnings, other than the fact that he lived in Venice until 1688. His story really begins when he was hired by Ferdinando de' Medici to look after the Grand Prince's many instruments and invent on the side.

Cristofori's driving forces to create the piano were chiefly related to his employer, and his own creative instincts.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4d/BartolomeoCristofori.jpg.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/Niccolò_Cassani%2C_Gran_Principe_Ferdinando_%281687%2C_vasari_corridor_Uffizi%29.jpg.
Ferdinando de' Medici was a patron of the arts. He possessed 75 harpsichords, and needed a Keeper of the Instruments to look after them all.

It was the decision to hire Bartolomeo Cristofori, to provide him the money and time he needed to invent that Ferdinando is most known for.
Thesis
Because of the range of its applications, the piano has influenced a wide variety of unexpected (academic) subjects (i.e.: History, Math, Science, etc...) that encompass where many lives intersect, school.
The Piano & Mathematics
Playing the piano actually increases a students math ability. In fact, according to multiple studies, children who are trained in music, specifically the piano, from a young age tend to improve their math skills. According to various studies, piano students received 34% higher on standardized tests measuring fractions, ratios, and even proportions.
It is very simple to see how math influences music, you only have to look as far as the key and time signature. The Time signature tells the musician how many notes there are in a measure (the top number), and what length each note gets (the bottom note).
http://f.tqn.com/y/musiced/1/W/O/6/timesignature.jpg.
However, the relationship between math and music is symbiotic, as math influences music, music, specifically the piano, influences math.
http://cdn.dailypainters.com/paintings/_afternoon_practice__mixed_medium_antique_piano_mu_ae704045e696a44c123364750d955fb1.jpg.
The Piano & Science
The Piano directly influences Science through the Tomatis Method.
http://www.healim.net/clinic1/images/tomatis.gif.
Alfred A. Tomatis was a French otolaryngologist and dealt with disorders in the ear, nose and throat.

He created the Tomatis Method, which combined Mozart piano sonatas with a patients mothers voice, and targeted various disorders.

Eventually he was able to help people with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, sensory processing, etc... and even helped adults fight depression.

Through this combination of the piano and voices, Tomatis was able to help people with serious disorders in the scientific field.
The Piano & History
In 1839, eight years after his voyage on the HMS Beagle to the Galapagos Islands, Charles Darwin married his cousin Emma Wedgwood. While they were married, Emma Wedgwood (who had learned piano to become more 'marriageable') played piano for her husband often. So often that Darwin spent several pages on the evolution of musical ability by means of sexual selection in his 1871 piece of scientific literature 'the Descent of Men and Selection in Relations to Sex'.
Simply put, sexual selection is a mode of natural selection in which some individuals out-reproduce others because they are better at securing mates. Charles Darwin argued that musical ability, especially playing the piano, made one better at securing mates, and enhanced that aspect of out-reproduction.
Through a direct correlation, the piano influenced Charles Darwin and his writing, thus influencing history.
http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/multimedia/archive/00019/darwin_19958a.jpg.
The piano has been connected to many events throughout history, most notably Charles Darwin and his piece of scientific literature, 'the Descent of Men and Selection in Relations to Sex'.
The Piano & English Literature
The Piano is particularly influential in popular pieces of literature throughout the ages. For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic, The Great Gatsby.
As stated previously, the piano was a mixture of the Harpsichord and the Clavichord. What this meant for music was the creation of dynamics (loud and soft markings in a piece of music). So, the reason we have loud and soft markings in music is directly because of the piano.
In this snippet of The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald makes specific word choices that symbolize and underscore the feeling of jazz music in the background of the Gatsby party that is occurring during this chapter.
These
words could easily be found in a piece of music, specifically with regards to dynamic contrast, which is exists because of the piano.
"The groups change more
swiftly
,
swell
with new arrivals,
dissolve
and
form
in the same breath; already there are wanderers, confident girls who
weave
here and there among the stouter and more stable, become for a
sharp
,
joyous
moment the center of a group, and then,
excited
with triumph,
glide
on through the sea-change of faces and voices and color under the constantly changing light." (Fitzgerald, 40-41)
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-gtSnn3SM1og/UjJQWSfe01I/AAAAAAAAWV0/tArcIYxPE5M/s1600/PartyGatsby-2013-1.jpg.
The Piano & Science/Humanities
The piano has also influenced where science and fine arts combine, in movies.

Because the piano is the reason behind dynamic markings in music, most of the heart-wrenching music behind movies has the piano to thank.


Up
Up is considered by most to have created the most emotional four minutes of any movie within ten minutes of the movie starting.

The reason behind this is the music supplied in the background.

When watching this clip, pay attention to 0:12-0:23, 1:19-1:45, 1:58-2:05.
The first section (0:12-0:23) supplies the theme, called Married Life. It is reminiscent and symbolic of Carl and Ellie's happy life together.

During the second section (1:19-1:45) the music becomes softer and slower (dynamic contrast due to the piano). This section marks their relationship taking a slower pace, dealing with the pain of not being able to have children.
https://www.fyoutube.com/watch?v=1G371JiLJ7A
The third section marks their return to normal life, you can hear the music return to the tempo and happiness of the first section.
As you can see, the emotional state of the scene revolves around the music, more importantly, the dynamics of the music, which the piano can take direct responsibility for.
Big Hero 6
Big Hero 6 is another good example of the piano influencing movies through the dynamic contrast in background tracks.
As you watch this clip from the Disney movie, Big Hero 6, listen to the strings in the background that go until 0:16.
The Strings get higher and louder until they cut out abruptly at 0:16. This dynamic contrast, the loud and suddenly soft, adds to the emotional state of the scene. Had jazz music been playing in the background, the scene would have felt awkward and off. It is the combination of strings adding tension and the drop in volume that makes this scene so emotional.


https://www.fyoutube.com/watch?v=SRHU4264Xwc
The dynamic contrast is directly tied into the emotional state of the scene, and the piano is directly responsible for that.
Conclusion
Because of the range of its applications, the piano has influenced a wide variety of unexpected (academic) subjects (i.e.: History, Math, Science, etc...) that encompass where many lives intersect, school.
Thesis
The piano has been silently influencing the world as we know it since the moment of its birth. This instrument has been applied to a myriad of subjects throughout its lifetime, including
Math
(through
improved math skills
),
Science
(through the
Tomatis Method)
,
History
(through
Darwin
),
English Literature
(through
The Great Gatsby
), and even a
merging of science and the humanities
(in
movies
like
Up
and
Big Hero 6
).
http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/multimedia/archive/00019/darwin_19958a.jpg.
http://www.healim.net/clinic1/images/tomatis.gif.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b0/Gatsby_1925_jacket.gif.
Conclusion
Bartolomeo Cristofori could never have imagined the impact and applications the piano has had on our world today.

Due to the social, environmental, and personal driving forces of the piano and the people who had a hand in its creation, the piano has gone on to not only take the music world by storm, but also make its mark on society.

Most people's lives intersect through school, and the piano has had a hand in each broad academic subject they may come across in their studies.

Although most people do not make the connection, the piano's range of abilities and applications is so endless that it has not only silently influenced our world today, but it will continue to do so for as long as it remains an instrument relevant to the making of music.
http://www.mezzomyforte.com/vintage-piano.jpg.
Annotated Bibliography
Thesis
Because of the range of its applications, the piano has influenced a wide variety of unexpected (academic) subjects (
Math
) that encompass where many lives intersect, school.
The piano has influenced academic subjects (i.e.: Math), through piano students increased scores on standardized (math) tests.
Thesis
Because of the range of its applications, the piano has influenced a wide variety of unexpected (academic) subjects (
Science
) that encompass where many lives intersect, school.
The piano directly influences Science through the Tomatis Method because Alfred Tomatis used Mozart piano sonatas (as well as a patients mothers voice) to help people with various disabilities.
Thesis
Because of the range of its applications, the piano has influenced a wide variety of unexpected (academic) subjects (
History
) that encompass where many lives intersect, school.
Through a direction correlation, the piano influenced Darwin's writing, and therefore impacted this unexpected subject, History.
Thesis
Because of the range of its applications, the piano has influenced a wide variety of unexpected (academic) subjects (
English Literature
) that encompass where many lives intersect, school.
Because the piano was an evolution of technology itself (as the next step after the harpsichord and the clavichord), it is the reason we have dynamic markings in music. This aspect of dynamics you can see through Fitzgerald's word choice in this excerpt from The Great Gatsby.
Thesis
Because of the range of its applications, the piano has influenced a wide variety of unexpected (academic) subjects (
science/humanities combined
) that encompass where many lives intersect, school.
These two scenes are perfect examples of how dynamic contrast in music and emotion of a scene are so intertwined. The piano can take direct responsibility of this dynamic contrast because the piano is the reason behind dynamics in music.
The Piano's technological advances have allowed it to move forward as an instrument and make the necessary improvements to influence the world as we know it.
The Piano has been able to change the world because of the social and environment forces driving it, as well as the people that allowed it to become what it is.
The piano has had a vast history involving many various technological advances, as well as social, environmental, and personal driving forces.

All of these aspects of its history have led it to influence the world as we know it.
The Piano: Influencing Forces
http://www.wbjc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/h-cristofori.jpg.
The Piano's Beginnings
The Piano: The Pianofortes of Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731)
This source discussed the beginnings of Cristofori and the creation of the piano. It extended my thesis because it provided new information.
C: 2003, R: This resource supplied useful information about the beginnings of Cristofori and the piano. A: Wendy Powers, Independent Scholar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, A: Accurate., P: To inform.

Recent approaches in understanding Cristofori's pianoforte
This source discussed how Cristofori created the piano. It extended my thesis because it provided new information.
C: 2006, R: This resource supplied information about Cristofori inventing the pianoforte. A: Denzil Wraight, specialist maker and researcher of Italian keyboard instruments, A: Accurate, P: To inform.

How the piano got to the top.
This source discussed the beginnings of the piano, and it extended my thesis because it provided me information about my topic.
C: 2000, R: This resource supplied information about the early beginnings of the piano, especially the early name of the pianoforte in italian, A: Brendan I. Koerner, contributing editor for the New York Times, A: Accurate, P: To inform.

Bartolomeo Cristofori at court in late Medici Florence (Biography/Dissertation)
This source discussed how Cristofori was hired by Ferdinando de' Medici and worked for him. It supports my thesis because it discusses how the piano relates to something unexpected, like the de' Medici family.
C: 1994, R: This resource gave me useful information about how Cristofori interacted with Ferdinando de' Medici while working for the royal court, A: Michael O'Brien, wrote his PhD Dissertation for Catholic University of America, A: Accurate, P: To inform- to get his PhD.

The early pianoforte
This source discussed the technology of the pianoforte, and it extends my thesis because it provided me new information.
C: 1995, R: This resource gave me useful information about Cristofori and the technical invention of the piano, A: Stewart Pollens, keyboard instrument maker, A: Accurate, P: To inform.
The Piano's Technology and Driving Forces
Cochran, Eric, Florence in the forgotten centuries, 1527-1800; a history of Florence and the Florentines in the age of the grand dukes: University of Chicago Press (1973)
Florence in the Forgotten Centuries discusses how Florence maintained their creativity long after they lost their stronghold in Europe.
I used this source to supplement information on Florence during the 1700s, especially its economics and cultural atmosphere at the time.
This source extends my research because it presents new information towards my topic that I had not encountered before.
C: 1973. R: Relevant. A: Professor of History at the University of Chicago. A: Accurate. P: To inform

Hibbert, Cristopher, The House of Medici: its rise and fall: New York, Harper Perennial (2003)
The House of Medici biography tells of the famous Florentine banking family who provided the world with some of its art patrons and collectors.
I used this source to explore Ferdinando de' Medici more closely, specifically his relationship to Cristofori and how he came to be in Venice to meet him.
This source supports my research because it explores Ferdinando de' Medici more closely, and he is a prime example of my thesis- relating the piano to something you'd never expect it to.
C: 2003. R: Relevant. A: English writer, historian, and biographer. A: Accurate. P: To inform

Black, Christopher F, Early Modern Italy: a Social History: New York, Routledge (2001)
Early Modern Italy is a history of Italy from the 15th Cenury to the 18th- the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.
I used this source on cultural aspects of Italy during the end of the Renaissance.
This source extends my research because it presents new information towards my topic.
C: 2001. R: Relevant. A: Honorary Research Professor- Italian History at University of Glasgow. A: Accurate. P: to inform.

Sella, Domenico, Italy in the seventeenth century: New York, Longman (1997)
Italy in the seventeenth century is a comprehensive overview of Italy's purported decline and political developments.
I used this source to explore how Italy was advancing politically during the beginning of the 18th century.
This source extends my research because it presents new information towards my topic.
C: 1997. R: Relevant. A: professor emeritus of economic history at the University of Wisconsin. A: Accurate. P: to inform.

“The History of the Piano” the piano deconstructed, by Christopher Smit, last modified 2004.
The History of the Piano, the piano deconstructed really delves into the mechanics of the piano, specifically the steel strings and hammers, which I used in IT5. This content supports my project thesis.
C:2004, R; Relevant. A: Unknown. A: Accurate. P: To inform.

How a Piano Works” Frederick History Piano Collection, by the Historical Piano Concert Series, last modified November 2014.
How a Piano Works delves deeply into the mechanisms of the piano, specifically the strings and the hammers of a piano, which is the pertinent information I gleaned from this organization. This content supports my thesis.
C: 2014 R: Relevant, A: Unknown, A: Accurate, P: To inform.

“The Piano History” Modern Piano, by internet meridian, last modified 2009.
The Piano History explores the various technological advances and differences between the various pianos, from the Square Piano to the Concert Grand Piano. I used this source to explore the differences between Cristofori’s piano and the Modern piano, mainly the differences in octaves. This content supports my thesis.
C: 2009. R: Relevant. A: Unknown. A: Accurate: P: To inform.

The Piano, Math, & Science
Math:
"Music and the young mind : enhancing brain development and engaging learning", by Maureen Harris
This source describes a music-enriched environment for which a child to learn and thrive.
I used this source for information about music's impact on students' learning.
This information supports my thesis statement because it provides a new aspect of life one wouldn't expect the piano to relate to.
C: 2009. R: Relevant. A: Unknown. A: Accurate. P: To inform.
Science:
“A Review of Research done on Tomatis Auditory Stimulation”, by Jan Gerritsen, PhD.This source provided information about Tomatis Method and its importance on the improvement of autistic children. This resource extends my hypothesis.C: 2009. R: Relevant. A: PhD. A: Accurate. P: To inform.

"Effect of the Tomatis method on the psychological well-being and piano performance of student pianists" by Anna Vercuiel
This source extends my thesis because it discusses the psychological benefit of the Tomatis Method.
C: 2010. R: Relevant. A: unknown. A: Accurate. P: to inform.

"Healing songs" by Ted Giola
This source extends my thesis because it discusses the Tomatis Method and how it helped people.
C: 2006. R: Relevant. A: Jazz critic. A: Accurate. P: To inform.


The Piano, History, English Literature, and Science/Humanities
History:
"The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex." by Charles Darwin
This source discusses sexual selection, a varying form of natural selection, in which some organisms can out-reproduce others of their same species because they are better at securing mates.
I used this source to discuss Darwin's relationship to the piano, and how the piano influenced this specific piece of his writing.
This information supports my thesis statement because it provides a new aspect of life the piano is related to.
C: 1989. R: Relevant. A: Distinguished evolutionary biologist. A: Accurate. P: To prove.
English:
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This source supports my thesis because it is an example of how the piano influences unexpected subjects throughout many aspects of life.
C: 1925 R: Relevant. A: Renowned author. A: Accurate. P: To entertain.
Science/Humanities:
"Beyond the Soundtrack : Representing Music in Cinema." by Daniel Goldmark, Lawrence Kramer, and Richard Leppert
This source discusses music as equal to the image in film making.
I used this source to supplement information about how music is essential in film making.
This information supports my thesis because while music is important to film making, not many know how essential it is. This adds another element to the piano's influence.
C: 2007. R: Relevant. A: PhDs in Music. A: Accurate. P: To inform and persuade.

"Up" by Disney
This source supports my thesis because it is an example of how the piano influences unexpected topics in many aspects of life.
C: 2009. R: Relevant. A: renowned writers. A: Accurate. P: to entertain.

"Big Hero 6" by Disney
This source supports my thesis because it is an example of how the piano influenes unexpected topics in many aspects of life.
C: 2014. $: Relevant. A: renowned writers. A: Accurate. P: To entertain.
http://www.playpianotoday.com/piano-computer-themes/grand-piano-inside.jpg.
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