Vive la Musica!
by Bryan Breaux
The harpsichord is a musical instrument that is played by using a keyboard. When one of the keys is pressed, a plectrum is engaged and a string is plucked. Unfortunately, this instrument has only one dynamic with one distinct sound. This seemed to irritate one particular gentleman.
An Italian gentleman, Bartolomeo Cristofori, wanted something more than the harpischord. In the year 1700, Signore Cristofori invented a new instrument that would change and revolutionize music forever. He named this new instrument pianoforte.
The original pianoforte only consisted of 4 and one half octaves. The piano that we know today consists of 7 and one third octaves. 52 white natural keys, 36 black flat / sharp keys, completing a grand total of 88 keys.
This new musical instrument, the pianoforte, revolutionized everything about musical instruments. This was the first instrument that could be played with more than one dynamic, soft /medium / loud ( piano, mezzopiano, mezzoforte, forte ). It also replaced the plectrum with a hammer. The push of one of the keys of the keyboard would mechanically push a felted hammer that would then strike the string. However hard or soft the key was pushed would determine how hard or soft the hammer would strike the string.
Music would never be the same.
Bartolomeo Cristofori would go down in history as the man that changed the World of Music forever.
From 1700 to the mid 1980s, almost three centuries, the pianoforte, or the piano as we have now named it, would reign as King.
Long live the King.
” What are you going to do with your life?”
” I wanna rock!”
” I want my MTV.”
Once again, Music had now changed.
Ever since the 1980s, the guitar has reigned as the King.
Unfortunately, this could be detrimental to music and music notation. For 280 years, the Grand Staff ruled as the leader of music notation. Now, after guitar virtuosos such as Les Paul, Eddie Van Halen, etc., the new leader of music notation is Tablature.
“Warning Will Robinson. Danger!”
The only Musicians that read tablature are guitarist, bassist and other string players that use this music notation over the traditional Grand Staff.
All other musicians read Grand Staff, Treble Clef / G Clef, Bass Clef / F Clef and the variations of such as the movable C Clef.
This is a sad fact.
The modern guitarist / musician that only reads Tablature has painted themselves into a corner, so to speak.
Therefore, this is my argument.
I fear that the education of music notation, the Grand Staff, may be jeopardized.
This is the one reason why all musicians that have any formal training or education must, and should, do all they can to preserve the treasures and the traditions.
Do all that you can to ensure that the musicians of today and tomorrow never forget Signore Cristofori’s pianoforte and the Grand Staff of music notation.