On Tue, 1 May 2007 13:53:12 -0700, Martin Usher wrote:
> I think I now understand
> what went on in the black hole between the harpsichord dying out and
> the appearance of the modern iron-framed piano.
> There were no pedals, just a damper operated by a
> push/pull knob in the center of the fallboard and a knee operated
> sustain (which wasn't used at all during the concert).
I would be curious what model and from whom.
As one of the few builders on the list specializing and making pianos
(Margaret and who else?), I will make a few comments.
> So, from the manufacturer's viewpoint, what you have is an instrument
> that's as easy to make as a single manual harpsichord. From the
> musician's viewpoint you have an instrument that's more expressive
> than a two manual harpsichord but a whole lot lighter and cheaper
Oh boy oh boy oh boy!
If your single manual hpschd is a Kirkman/Tschudi and the piano a
Broadwood, you wouldn't be so wrong.
Broadwood cases are until about 1795 more or less plucked hpschds. Same
is true of the Cristoforis but THOSE hpscds are complicated in the
Otherwise, you couldn't be wronger if you tried. Owen said most of it,
thou he forgot the veneering, something Peter particularly likes. I do
too, it is demanding and rewarding and a lot of work.
Piano cases are more complicated, more demanding, HEAVIER!.
Piano actions are far more complicated. While it is true, that the
individual parts of the piano action are less demanding than a hpschd
jack, there are lots more of them and getting to assembly to work well
is tedious, often unpleasant. Add to that the problems of suitible
materials - cloths, leather no longer available at any price.
> (and, I'd guess, easier to maintain -- the instrument would still
> require frequent tuning but the action wouldn't need adjusting very
more of same. A really well made WELL DESIGNED jack in a good case
needs virtually no maintenance at all. Any piano need potentially more.
Modern players, fixed on the Steinway ideal of some sort of perfection,
make unrealistic demands here. None of the early designs are easily
regulated, the Tangentenfluegel virtually not at all. The fact that the
keyboard/action cannot be removed without taking out all the dampers
individually on both the Tangis and the 3rd phase Steins shows that
1/100mm pefection was neither possible or expected. As with the good
jack, the perfection is in the design; frequent maintenance is not
> but you could see
> how the instrument was obviously capable of significant improvement.
As Owen said. And in fact later "improvements" in the design of the
so-called viennese action made maintenance necessary. Go thru the
archives. this has been talked about before.
> It all makes sense. Harpsichords turned into fortepianos because they
> were more cost effective,
the reason why they were 2-3 times as expensive as a hschd in their day.
Today's prices no different; I will cite only mine at today's exchange
rate, net without taxes FOB:
a moderate sized german single ±21000$
a Stein copy after the 1783 Stuttgart original 44000$
a Walter copy after Mine 1098 41000$
a David Schiedmayer copy after the 1794 48000$
a Tangentenfluegel copy after the 1770 Stuttgart original 53000$
all five octave instruments
a Nanette Streicher copy after #1061 1814 66000$
6 octaves with 4 pedals since that seems to be their highlights in your
all so very easy and cheap to make that I must be a crook...
Strange that I can barely make ends meet, despite lots of work and
being reputedly a quick worker.