: a keyboard instrument having steel wire strings that make a sound when struck by hammers covered with felt
Word History of PIANO
When a harpsichord is played, pressing on the keys causes the strings to be plucked in such a way that loudness and softness cannot be controlled. Around 1700 an Italian instrument maker named Bartolomeo Cristofori invented a mechanism by which the strings of a harpsichord would be struck by felt-covered hammers. This device allowed the performer to play notes with varying degrees of loudness. In Italian this new instrument was called gravicembalo col piano e forte, “harpsichord with soft and loud.” The name was borrowed into English as pianoforte or fortepiano, which was eventually shortened to just piano.