Is the piano a percussion instrument

Wolfschlugen Music School

Keyboard instruments

Piano / keyboard
The piano (from clavis: key), formerly also pianoforte or more rarely fortepiano, today often piano for short, is a musical instrument invented in Florence towards the end of the 17th century. In terms of operation, the piano is therefore a keyboard instrument, in terms of the type of excitation it is a percussion instrument and in terms of the vibrating medium it is a stringed instrument. The modern main forms of the piano are the grand piano (English grand piano) and the piano or pianino (English upright piano), often simply referred to as "piano".

The difficulties at the beginning are not in the sound generation such as B. with wind or string instruments, but more in the coordination of both hands, in the simultaneous perception and reproduction of the polyphony.
Starting age and requirements
The age between 7 and 10 has proven to be the starting age for piano lessons. An earlier start is definitely possible with the appropriate talent. In such cases it is advisable to seek advice from the teacher.

String instruments
In earlier centuries, numerous different string instruments (fiddle, lira or viol) were common, today there are only four types left: violin or violin as high soprano part, viola or viola as alto part, cello and double bass form the deep foundation with tenor and bass parts.

They are very different in size and range, but they have one thing in common: their strings are bowed with a bow. Historically, the German term violin also referred to other string instruments, namely the viola, cello and the forerunners of the double bass and viol. The term violin actually means "little viola".

String instruments are an important part of the symphony and opera orchestra. They also play an important role in chamber ensembles of different sizes and compositions. And last but not least, they can also be heard in folk, rock and jazz groups.

Even small children can start teaching a string instrument. The mini violin (1/16 violin) is certainly much smaller than the smallest double bass, although the largest string instrument is also built in an astonishing range of different small and large bass types (bassetto).
This means that it is also possible to start early on the double bass at elementary school age. The smallest viola is a little larger than the mini violin and the corresponding cello is of course even larger than the viola.
It is important that the instrument fits the size of the child. Small children start with a small instrument. As they grow, they switch to the next most suitable instrument.

Plucked instruments
The guitar is one of the most sought-after and versatile instruments. Whether classical, jazz, folklore, pop or rock: all these styles are difficult to imagine without the guitar, which is used both as a soloist and as an accompanying instrument.

The guitar belongs to the family of plucked instruments and can look back on a long tradition. Images of guitar-like instruments can already be found e.g. in the Egyptian pyramids or on ancient Babylonian stone reliefs. Via ancient Egypt, Greece (Kythara) and the Arabic soundscape, the instrument made its way to the Spanish realm, where it gained its present form in the course of 500 years of development.
Basically, a distinction is made between the guitar with nylon strings (classical or Spanish guitar) and the guitar with steel strings (acoustic or western guitar).

Wind instruments
When it comes to wind instruments, a distinction is made between woodwind and brass. A wide repertoire can be played with the wind instruments, ranging from classical music to light music. A few months of lessons are often enough to be able to play in a beginner's orchestra. The age between 9 and 11 years has proven to be the starting age for wind instruments.

The flute is one of the oldest wind instruments, as evidenced by bone finds from the Neolithic Age. Transverse flutes have been in use in Europe since the 11th century AD, while in China they have been in use since the 9th century BC. Flutes belong to the group of woodwind instruments. Today they are made almost exclusively of metal. You blow into the flute through a blow hole. Similar to "singing" telephone wires, the air you breathe is "cut" at one edge. A part of the air gets into the cylindrical tube of the flute, where it causes the air column located there to vibrate. The air column in the pipe is influenced by opening and closing the flaps, so that different pitches can be generated. In 1832, the German flute maker Theobald Boehm created a flute with an improved conical bore, which he patented in 1847 and which is still the most widely used flute in the 20th century.
The cylindrical Boehm flute is made of metal or wood and has at least 13 tone holes. It has a range of three octaves, from the dashed C upwards. Other orchestral flutes are the piccolo, the alto flute and the bass flute. The large flute and piccolo (sounds an octave higher), together with the small Eb clarinet, form the top of the orchestra's sound.

The oboe (hautbois) evolved from the medieval shawm. The instrument appears in 1511 and has 7 finger holes. At the beginning of the 19th century, J.G. Zencker from Adorf an oboe with 3 keys. Today's instrument consists of a short tube with holes and flaps. It is made of ebony or boxwood and has a mouthpiece with a double reed. France played a major role in the development of the oboe. There the instrument was called "Hautbois", i.e. - high wood - in contrast to the "Grosbois" or "Basson" deep wood, deep tone.

The bass instrument owes its name to its many individual parts, the various "tubes" (Italian: "fagotto", "bundle"). As with the oboe, the bassoon's tone is created by a double reed. The reed is made of reed.

The clarinet was probably developed after 1700 by J. Ch. Denner from the "Chalumeau", a popular reed instrument with nine finger holes. The sound is produced with a simple reed that periodically closes the airway of the beak mouthpiece with a swinging movement. The original number of flaps has been increased from two to thirteen. In 1839 the clarinet was provided with the key mechanism invented by Boehm for the flute. In Germany, however, after 1900 the Oskar Oehler system with over twenty keys and five rings prevailed (= so-called "German system"). The clarinet has had a permanent place in the symphony orchestra since the middle of the 18th century, and a little later also in military bands.

Although made entirely of metal, the saxophone is still a woodwind instrument. This is due to the blowing technique, because just like the clarinets, the sound is generated by a beak mouthpiece with a simple reed. The key mechanism is more related to that of the flute than that of a clarinet. The saxophone was developed around 1840 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian instrument maker, from a combination of several other instruments. However, it was only possible in very few cases to introduce the saxophone into the symphony orchestra. It therefore made its way through French military bands and the American southern states into the American jazz scene (New Orleans). From here, the way to the big swing orchestras (big bands) was not far. The saxophone only found its way into the German military orchestra shortly before World War II, when Felix Husadel decided to add a saxophone set to his Air Force Music Corps (not for infantry and navy). In Austria, the saxophone was only able to start its triumphal march in large dance orchestras and in jazz music after the war.

The natural horn, which was first accepted into the orchestra, was developed in France around 1650 and is a larger version of the small, crescent-shaped horns with a circularly wound tube. The hunting horn, which was introduced in the orchestra at the beginning of the 18th century, only produced around twelve notes of the natural overtone series. With the invention of the plugging technique in 1750, the horns became more powerful. When stuffing, the player puts their hand into the falls of the horn to change the pitch by a semitone. Despite this progress, additional lengths of pipe, called bows or crooks, were still required in order to be able to play in different pitches. This made the instrument very unwieldy.

The invention of valves in the 19th century revolutionized the horn, because now the player could change the length of the tube (and thus the tone) simply by moving a finger. A three-valve horn tuned in F can produce a full chromatic scale over three octaves, from the Bb below the bass clef (notated a fifth higher) upwards. Today the horn player uses the technique of plugging to change intonation and timbre. The modern horn in F has three valves, circular, tight coils that open at the end into a wide bell, and a funnel-shaped mouthpiece, which is responsible for the soft, warm sound of the horn. The double horn in F and Bb, which was introduced around 1900, is increasingly displacing the F horn. It has an additional valve to switch the B-flat vocal arc and offers some technical advantages. In the modern symphony orchestra there are usually four horns represented. The French horn in F is one of the "longest" wind instruments: If it were to be "unwound", it would have an impressive length of 3.60 m. Only the double bass tubas (B or C) are "longer" (up to 5.50 m).

Tenor horn / baritone
The tenor horn ("infantry cello") belongs to the bow-horn family and sounds an octave lower than the flugelhorn. It is extremely agile and therefore, like the flugelhorn, particularly suitable for difficult runs and melody passages. It differs from the trombone in that it has a much softer, sustaining sound. Originally also built in the shape of a trumpet, today only the oval shape (with cylinder valves) or the tuba shape (with cylinder or perinet valves), each with the bell pointing upwards, are in use.

Tenor horn and baritone horn are actually identical instruments, although the baritone part (in the bass clef) should be blown with instruments with the largest possible bore in order to better accentuate the slightly lower register compared to the tenor horns (in the violin clef). Four valves should generally be standard.

The trumpets are available in different tunings and sizes. The standard instrument is the trumpet in Bb, which is available in two designs: the concert trumpet with cylinder valves and the "modern" jazz trumpet with pump (perinet) valves.
The history of the trumpet is long. Trumpet-like instruments (originally made of wood) have been with mankind for a long time. In ancient times they played an important role as instruments of war and temple.
The crusades brought trumpets to Europe, where the tromba or busine, a trumpet with a straight pipe, has been played since the 13th century at the latest. To protect it from bending, the tube has been bent into a flat S since the 14th century and the modern bow shape has existed since the 15th century. But it was not yet possible to play melodies on these (valveless) instruments. By changing the lip tension, the fundamental tone of the instrument could be overblown and overtones could be generated, but only (natural) tones with a distance of fifths, fourths or triads were available. A full scale could only be blown in high pitches. So the fine art of clarino blowing developed out of necessity.

At the end of the 18th century, tamping, keyed and slide trumpets were introduced, but the breakthrough came later: around 1815, the first valves were finally developed that made it possible to blow a chromatic scale in the lower registers. The first trumpets with valves appeared in 1820. The inventors of these box valves were horn players Heinrich Stölzel and Friedrich Blühmel in Berlin. The valves in use today, however, were not developed until later: In 1832 Joseph Riedl built the first rotary or cylinder valve in Vienna and in 1839 Francois Périnet in Paris made decisive improvements to the old pump valves. The depressed valves cause the wind flow to pass through additional pipes. By pressing the 1st valve the instrument is tuned a whole tone lower; at the 2nd valve by a semitone and at the 3rd valve by a minor third. (For larger instruments, a 4th valve is common, which lowers the tone by 2.5 tones, a fourth.) The combination of the 3 valves finally allows the tone to be deepened by up to six semitones: enough for the natural tones even in the lower registers to bridge.

In the orchestra, the trumpet is used as a soloist, especially in signal-like passages and for accenting.

The trombone evolved from the then S-shaped trumpet in the 15th century. It is the only wind instrument that has a so-called pull instead of the valves. By pulling out this U-shaped tube, the pitch is lowered in seven steps. In addition, there are now 1 to 2 valves at the height of the bell on certain instruments. The advantage of the train consists on the one hand in the beauty of the tone and on the other hand in the infinitely variable adjustment of the pitch (glissando effect). The tone is similar to that of the trumpet, but is even more variable, from sharp and garish to full and majestic, all possibilities are conceivable. "A trumpet can laugh or cry". Common forms today are: the tenor trombone, the tenor bass trombone with fourth valve and the wide bass trombone with two fourth and fifth valves (all in Bb). In the symphony orchestra you can occasionally see the unwieldy double bass trombone in F.

Also belonging to the bow-horn family, the bass tuba was actually commissioned in 1835. The then Prussian music inspector Fr. W. Wieprecht was fed up with the lack of powerful bass instruments for his music corps. So he commissioned the Berlin-based instrument maker Moritz to develop a bass instrument based on a bow horn, which he then did. This solved the bass problem while marching and the previously common ophikleiden (keyed horns with a gruesome sound and a miserable mood) could go into retirement. The tuba, together with the saxophone, is the youngest instrument in the orchestra. In Germany, the "high" bass tuba in F or Eb and the "low" double bass tuba in Bb are the most common, with the rather flexible bass tuba in F mostly being used as a lone wolf in the symphony orchestra. In the wind orchestra, however, the somewhat more sedate Bb double bass tubas are the important foundation, because there are no string basses. The high bass tuba (F / Eb) usually doubles the bass line in the octave in order to make the low-overtone sound easier to hear.

Percussion instruments
Rhythm is required! Whether as a soloist, in bands or in an orchestra, in a band or in a percussion ensemble - the pulse of the music can be felt most clearly in the percussion instruments.
The "basic equipment" of the orchestra in the percussion area includes the large and small drums as well as the (Turkish) cymbals. The instruments in use today came to Europe after 1700 through Turkish military music (Janissary music) and thus to the local opera and especially the military orchestras. Drums, or general rhythm instruments, are, however, probably almost as old as humanity itself. In colloquial language, the big drum is often referred to as the kettledrum. However, this is simply wrong. Timpani are percussion instruments with a hemispherical sound box and a skin stretched horizontally over it, which are usually struck in pairs. These timpani have a (determinable) pitch in contrast to the drums, which at best can be changed in the timbre but not in the pitch of the tone.

The percussion instruments offer an almost infinite variety. From the drum set (combined drums of large and small drums, several cymbals and tom-toms) for orchestral and light music, to the so-called stick games (lyre, glockenspiel, xylophone, marimba, vibraphone) to rattle and effect instruments (Triangle, bell ring, wooden blocks, horns, bird's voice whistles, etc.) the drummers have a lot of small and large instruments to operate.