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Gymglish Lesson - Horatio's Instrument

Hello Gymglish team, In the part of the oral comprehension of this lesson, it is necessary to complete the table of instruments families. I have discovered that you have placed the piano in the percussion family. Is it a mistake since my teacher has always said me that the piano belongs to the string family. What is the good answer ? Perhaps there is a little difference between the french and english expression but I doubt ? Thank you in advance !


  • Hi Mathiou !
    In French, the piano is called an instrument "à corde frappée." That meets what you say, it belongs to strings family instrument. And percussion gives the idea of strike, for "frappe"
    But just "percussion" seems odd to me for the piano, like to you. We need a musician here.
  • The piano came after the harpsichord whose strings are plucked mechanically. The strings of a piano are struck with hammers. Even though there is a striking of metal strings in a piano, that instrument is usually listed as a string instrument. The melodies given out by a piano make it listed as a string instrument. That is a convention due to the classical music history. In the display of a classical orchestra the piano is located among the strings, not far up with percussions. A percussion instrument is struck or scraped by a beater. Percussion instruments are not looking like a piano, and a pianist doesn't look like a percussionist. But we have to remember who is Horatio, a wild guy from the jungle. Don't his origins allow him to not take account of any convention? There is striking somewhere in a piano.
  • So, I deduce that there is herein a mistake in despite of the Horatio's origins. Thanks a lot.
  • The name 'piano' is an abbreviaton from the original name 'pianoforte'. It was called that way in those days, because, with that new key-instrument, the player could -for the first time- determine simply by the touch of the fingers how 'silent' or 'loud' the tone is.

    That was the first time that such a n instrument (in contrast to its predeccessors like the hapsichord) could be played 'silently', in 'piano forte'. Hence the name.
  • I would say, to be instrumental in this dispute that, yes indeed the piano consists of sounding string by percussion and it belongs, since it must attribuate it a family, to the one of the keyboards, seems it to me?
  • Yep, I agree. If someone had put a gun at my head and forced me to put the piano into a category (without me having further knowledge about the term used by experts), I would have said 'key instruments'. I think, the distinction is not totally sharp in the case of a piano, and you can make a case for both key- and string instrument, as well as for percussion instrument. If the musical community has agreed on one, I will naturally use that category.

    As an analogy, we could categorize an organ both as 'key instrument' and 'wind instrument', when we delve deeper into how the sound is actually produced. And when you categorize an organ in terms of how it is operated by the player, 'key instrument' seems appropriate.

    On the same note, I think, the keyboard is, according to the same reasoning, both a key instrument and an electronic instrument, depending on whehter your focus in on the sound production or on the operation.

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