Monday, May 4, 2009
It was on this day way back in 1655 - let's see, that's 354 years ago - that a man named Bartolomeo Cristofori was born. Mr. Cristofori had at least one brilliant idea in his life: He replaced the string-plucking mechanisms on a harpsichord with levered devices called hammers. This allowed the player to adjust the volume of the instrument by applying more or less force to the hammer when played.
His original name for the new instrument was "Harpsichord-that-plays-soft-and-loud." (Well, no one said Bartolomeo was gifted in marketing.) As the instrument grew in popularity among musicians, the name was shortened to just "soft-loud" and eventually just "soft."
In Italian, the word for "soft" is "piano."