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JAP

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 572 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAP S` discovery that has since been introduced as novel. His instrument (fig. 28) is in a complete iron frame, independent of the case; and in this frame, strengthened by a system of iron resistance rods combined with an iron upper bridge, his sound-board is entirely suspended. An apparatus for tuning by mechanical screws regulates the tension of the strings, which are of equal length throughout. The action, in metal supports, anticipates Wornum's in the checking, and still later ideas in a contrivance for repetition. This remarkable bundle of inventions was brought to London and exhibited by Hawkins himself; !L. IIIIIffll 11 .11NI IYWWYIIIIIillliStMIllWIVIIIIl@lll llNltlS IBllilIIttl I _4sinliiilill a lillll~4ui hiedIL., 'miiuu ii i'iuui,uwiumunn if. but the instrument being poor in the tone failed to bring him pecuniary reward or the credit he deserved. Southwell appears to have been one of the first to profit by Hawkins's ideas by bringing out the high cabinet pianoforte, with hinged sticker action, in 1807. All that he could, however, patent in it was the simple damper action, turning on a pivot to relieve the dampers from the strings, which is still frequently used with such actions. The next steps for producing the lower or cottage upright piano were taken by Robert Wornum, who in 1811 produced a diagonally, and in 1813 a vertically, strung one. Wornum's perfected crank action (fig. 29) was not complete until 1826, when it was patented for a cabinet piano; but it was not really introduced until three years later, when Wornum applied it to his little " piccolo." The principle of this centred lever check action was introduced into Paris by Pleyel1 and Pape, and thence into Germany and America. It was not, however, from Hawkins's invention that iron became introduced as essential to Allen the structure of a pianoforte. This was due to William Allen, a young Scotsman in the employ of the Stodarts. He devised a metal system of framing intended primarily for compensation, but soon to become, in other hands, a framing for resistance. His idea was to meet the divergence in tuning caused in brass and iron strings by atmospheric changes by compensating tubes and plates of the same metals, guaranteeing their stability by a cross batoning of stout wooden bars and a metal bar across the wrest-plank. Allen, being simply a tuner, had not the full practical knowledge for carrying out the idea. He had to ally himself with Stodart's foreman, Thom; and Allen and Thom patented the invention in January 1820. The firm of Stodart at once acquired the patent. We have now arrived at an important epoch in pianoforte construction—the abolition, at least in England and France, of the wooden construction in favour of a combined construction of iron and wood, the former material gradually asserting pre-eminence. Allen's design is shown in fig. 30. The long bars shown in the diagram are really tubes fixed at one end only; those of iron lie over the iron or steel wire, while those of brass lie over the brass wire, the metal plates to which they are attached being in the same correspondence. At once a great advance was made in the possibility of using heavier strings than could be stretched before, without danger to the durability of the case and frame. The next step was in 1821, to a fixed iron string-plate, the invention of one of Broad-wood's workmen, Samuel Herve, which was in the first instance applied to one of the square pianos of that firm. The great advantage in the fixed plate was a more even solid counterpoise to the drawing or tension of the strings and the abolition of their undue length 1 Pleyel exhibited a small upright piano in Paris in 1827. Pierre Erard did not turn his attention to upright pianos until 1831.behind the bridge, a reduction which Isaac Carter2 had tried some years before, but unsuccessfully, to accomplish with a plate of wood. So generally was attention now given to improved methods of resistance that it has not been found possible to determine who first practically introduced those long iron or steel resistance bars which are so familiar a feature in modern grand pianos. They were experimented on as substitutes for the wooden bracing by Joseph Smith in 1798; but to James Broadwood belongs the credit of trying them first above the sound-board in the treble part of the scale as long ago as 1808, and again in 1818; he did not succeed, however, in fixing them properly. The introduction of fixed resistance bars is really due to observation of Allen's compensating tubes, which were, at the same time, resisting. Sebastian and Pierre Erard seem to have been first in the field in 1823 with a complete system of nine resistance bars from treble to bass, with a simple mode of fastening them through the sound-board to the wooden beams beneath, but, although these bars appear in their patent of 1824, which chiefly concerned their repetition action, the Erards did not either in France or England claim them as of original invention, nor is there any string-plate combined with them in their patent. James Broadwood, by his patent of 1827, claimed the combination of string-plate and resistance bars, which was clearly the completion of the wood and metal instrument, differing from Allen's in the nature of the resistance being fixed. Broadwood, however, left the brass bars out, but added a fourth bar in the middle to the three in the treble he had previously used. It must be borne in mind that it was the trebles that gave way in the old wooden construction before the tenor and bass of the instrument. But the weight of the stringing was always increasing, and a heavy close overspinning of the bass strings had become general. The resistance bars were increased to five, six, seven, eight and, as we have seen, even nine, according to the ideas of the different English and French makers who used them in their pursuit of stability. The next important addition to the grand piano in order of time was the harmonic bar of Pierre Erard, introduced in 1838. This was a gun-metal bar of alternate pressing and drawing power by means of screws which were tapped into the wrest-plank immediately above the treble bearings, making that part of the instrument nearly immovable; this favoured the production of higher harmonics to the treble notes, recognized in what we commonly call " ring." A similar bar, subsequently extended by Broadwood across the entire wrest-plank, was to prevent any tendency in the wrest-plank to rise, from the combined upward drawing of the strings. A method of fastening the strings on the string-plate depending upon friction, and thus dispensing with eyes," was a contribution of the Collards, who had retained James Stewart, a man of con- siderable inventive power, FIG. 31.-Broadwood's Iron Grand who had been in America Piano, 1884. Complete iron frame with with Chickering. This diagonal resistance bar. invention was introduced in 1827. Between 1847 and 1849 2 Sometime foreman to the pianoforte maker Mott, who attracted much attention by a piano with sostenente effect, produced by a roller and silk attachments in 1817. But a sostenente piano, how-ever perfect, is no longer a true piano such as Beethoven and Chopin wrote for. Mr Henry Fowler Broadwood, son of James, and grandson of John Broadwood, and also great-grandson of Shudi (Tschudi), invented a grand pianoforte to depend practically upon iron, in which, to avoid the conspicuous inequalities caused by the breaking of the scale with resistance bars, there should be no bar parallel to the strings except a bass bar, while another flanged resistance bar, as an entirely novel feature, crossed over the strings from the bass corner of the wrest-plank to a point upon the string-plate where the greatest accumulation of tension strain was found. Broadwood did not continue, without some compromise, this extreme renunciation of ordinary resistance means. After the Great Exhibition of 1851 he employed an ordinary straight bar in the middle of his concert grand scale, his smaller grands having frequently two such as well as the long bass bar. After 1862 he covered his wrest-plank with a thick plate of iron into which the tuning pins screw as well as into the wood beneath, thus avoiding the crushing of the wood by the constant pressure of the pin across the pull of the string, an ultimate source of danger to durability. The introduction of iron into pianoforte structure was differently and independently effected in America, the fundamental idea there being to use a single casting for the metal plate and bars, instead of forging or casting them in separate pieces. Alphaeus Babcock was the pioneer to this kind of metal construction. He also was bitten with the compensation notion, and had cast an iron ring for a square piano in 1825, which, although not a success, gave the clue to a single casting resistance framing, successfully accomplished by Conrad Meyer, in Philadelphia, in 1833, in a square piano which still exists, and was shown in the Paris Exhibition of 1878. Meyer's idea was improved upon by Jonas Chickering (1797–1853) of Boston, who applied it to the grand piano as well as to the square, and brought the principle up to a high degree of perfection —establishing by it the independent construction of the American pianoforte. We have now to do with over- or cross-stringing, by which the bass division of the strings is made to cross Over- stringing, over the tenor part of the scale in a single, double or treble disposition at diverging angles— the object being in the first instance to get longer bass strings than are attainable in a parallel scale, and in the next to open out the scale and extend the area of bridge pressure on the sound-board. In the 18th century clavichords were sometimes overstrung in the lowest octave to get a clearer tone in that very indistinct part of the instrument (strings tuned an octave higher being employed). The first suggestion for the overstringing in the piano was made by the celebrated flute-player and inventor Theobald Boehm, who carried it beyond theory in London, in 1831, by employing a small firm located in Cheapside, Gerock & Wolf, to make some overstrung pianos for him. Boehm expected to gain in tone; Pape, an ingenious mechanician in Paris, tried a like experiment to gain economy in dimensions, his notion being to supply the best piano possible with the least outlay of means. Tomkinson in London continued Pape's model, but neither Boehm's nor Pape's took permanent root. The Great Exhibition of 1851 contained a grand piano, made by Lichtenthal of St Petersburg, overstrung in order to gain symmetry by two angle sides to the case. It was regarded as a curiosity only. Later, in 1855, Henry Engelhard Steinway (originally Steinweg; Steinway. 1797–1871), who had emigrated from Brunswick to New York in 1849, and had established the firm of Steinway & Sons in 1853 in that city, effected the combination of an overstrung scale with the American iron frame, which exhibited in grand and square instruments shown in London in the International Exhibition of 1862, excited the attention of European pianoforte makers, leading ultimately to important results. The Chickering firm claim to have anticipated the Steinways in this invention. They assert that Jonas Chickering had begun a square piano on this combined system in 1853, but, he died before it was completed, and it was brought out later. It is often difficult to adjudicate upon the claims of inventors, so rarely is an invention the product of one man's mind alone. However, the principle was taken up and generally adopted in America and Germany, and found followers elsewhere, not only in grand but in upright pianos, to the manufacture of which it gave, and particularly in Germany, a powerful impetus. ^ ram! !lllliilllU!!!illl=~jii!IIIIIIi!!I iIG+1!!!!!!~! 101 ""°""""""" loom. s/' 1111 Since 1885 the American system of a metal plate in one casting, and cross- or over-stringing by which the spun bass strings cross the longer steel diagonally, has become general Recent in Europe with the exception of France, where structural musical taste has remained constant to the older changes. wooden structure and parallel stringing throughout. The greater tenacity of the modern cast-steel wire favours a very much higher tension, and consequent easier production of the higher partials of the notes, permitting a sostenuto unknown to Beethoven, Schumann or Chopin. While in 1862 the' highest tension of a concert grand piano worked out at sixteen tons, since 1885 thirty tons has been recorded. Generally speaking, the rise in tension may be expressed musically by the interval of a minor third, to the great advantage of the standing in tune. First shown by Henry Steinway in the London Exhibition of 1862, this altered construction attracted extraordinary attention at Paris in 1867, and determined the German direction of manufacture and a few years later the English. What is now particularly noticeable wherever pianos are made is the higher average of excellence attained in making, as well as in piano-playing. Naturally the artistic quality, the personal note, characterizes all first-class instruments, and permits that liberty of choice which appertains to a true conception of art. Much attention has been given of late years to the touch of pianos, to make it less tiring for the modern performer, especially since, in 1885–1886, Anton Rubinstein went through the herculean feat of seven consecutive historical recitals, repeated in the capital cities and principal musical centres of Europe. For even this stupendous player a light touch was indispensable. In the competition for power piano makers had been gradually increasing the weight of touch to be overcome by the finger, until, to obtain the faintest pianissimo from middle C, at the front edge of the key, from three to four ounces was a not uncommon weight. The Broadwood grand piano which Chopin used for his recitals in London and Manchester in 1848, an instrument that has never been repaired or altered, shows the resistance he required: the middle C sounds at two ounces and a half, and to that weight piano-makers have returned, regarding two ounces and three-quarters as a possible maximum. Owing to the greater substance of the hammers in the bass, the touch will Fig. 34.-Broadwood Barless Grand. always be heavier in that department, and lighter in the treble from the lesser weight. In balancing the keys, allowance has to be made for the shorter leverage of the black keys. When the player touches the keys farther back the leverage is proportionately shortened and the weight increased, and there is also an ascehding scale in the weight of the player's blow or pressure from pianissimo to fortissimo. The sum of the aggregate force expended by a pianist in a recital of an hour and a half's duration, if calculated, would be astonishing. The most important structural change in pianos in recent years has been the rejection of support given by metal bars or struts between the metal plate to which the strings are hitched and the wrest-plank wherein the tuning-pins are inserted. These bars formed part of William Allen's invention, brought forward by Stodart in 1820, and were first employed for rigidity in place of compensation by the Paris Erards two years later, Broadwood in London introducing about that time the fixed metal plate. The patent No. 1231, for the barless or open-scale piano, taken out in London in 1888 by H. J. Tschudi Broadwood, is remarkable for simplification of design as well as other qualities. Ten years elapsed after the taking out of the patent before the first oarless grand was heard in public (January 1898 at St James's Hall). The metal frame, bolted in the usual manner to the bottom framing, is of fine cast steel entirely free from any transverse bars or struts, being instead turned up round the edgesto form a continuous flange, which enables the frame to bear the increased modern tension while providing additional elasticity and equality of vibration power throughout the scaling. The absence of barring and bracing tends to subdue the metallic quality of tone so often observable in pianofortes constructed with heavy iron frames, and the barless steel frame being so much more elastic than the latter, no loss in resonance is perceptible. The tone of the barless grand is of singular beauty and sonority and is even throughout the compass. The problem of resonance—with stringed keyboard instruments, the reinforcement or amplification of sound—has, from the days of the lute- and spinet-makers, been empirical. With lute, guitar, and viol or violin i crea,,e of the sound-box comes in, combining in the instrument Resenence. the distinct properties of string and enclosed air or wind. With the spinet, harpsichord and piano we have to do chiefly with the plate of elastic wood, to amplify the initial sound of the strings; and the old plan of a thin plate of spruce, put in slightly convex and with an under-barring of wood for tension, has absorbed the attention of piano-makers. The violin belly, with its bass bar and sound post, has relation to it; but the recent invention of the Stroh violin has shown that the initial string vibrations may be passed through a bridge, be concentrated, and adequately transferred to an aluminium disk not much larger than half a crown. The piano, with its numerous strings, cannot be so reduced, but the reinforcement problem is open to another solution, tentative it is true, but a possible rival. The " Gladiator " soundboard is the invention of Albert Schulz, late director of the piano manufactory of Ritmuller and Sohne of Gottingen. Dr Moser's name has been associated with the inventor's in the English patent. In the " Gladiator " two slabs of wood, with grain of opposed direction to give the necessary tension, are glued together, and the whole system of belly bars is done away with. There is a thinning round the edge, to facilitate promptness of speech. As we are still feeling our way towards an accurate and comprehensive statement of resonance, this invention is one claiming scientific interest, as well as being of possible practical importance. To return to the touch. The desirability of what is called repetition— that the jack or sticker, which Repetition. from the depression of the key delivers the blow that raises the hammer to the strings, should never be far away from the notch or nose which receives the impulse—is as much an object of consideration with piano-makers now as it has been since Sebastian Erard began those experiments in 1808 which ended Iihlll ~,~~, U~'III v\i
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