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Symbolism of the Piano – Is There Any Meaning to the Instrument?

The piano is one of the most well-loved musical instruments and has been for several centuries. Invented in Italy by Bartomomeo Cristofori around the year 1709, although no one knows the exact date, the piano has come to represent concepts such as family unity and social status. Let’s have a look at the history of this musical instrument and what it symbolizes.

History of the Piano

All musical instruments can be traced back to older instruments, and are classified into three distinct categories: string, wind, or percussion.

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In the case of the piano, it can be traced back to the monochord, a string instrument. However, even though the piano is a string instrument, the music is made through the strings’ vibration, which can also be classified as percussion. So, unlike most instruments, the piano comes from two distinct musical instrument categories – string and percussion.

When we think of some of the best composers, we think of the piano. This is partly due to its prominence in society over three centuries. Without the piano, we may not have some of the richest and most intricate classical music we enjoy today. Some of these famous composers and piano players include:

  • Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827)
  • Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
  • Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982)
  • Vladimir Ashkenazy (1937- )
  • Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
  • Pyotr llyich Tchaikovsky (1843-1896)
  • Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
what does piano symbolize?

Interesting Facts About the Piano

Since the piano has been around for more than 300 years, there are several interesting facts connected to it. Here are some:

  • The notes a piano can play are equivalent to an entire orchestra. The piano can play a note lower than the lowest possible note on a double bassoon, and a note higher than the highest possible sound of the piccolo. This is why a concert pianist can play such varied and exciting music; the piano can be a concert all by itself.
  • The piano is a highly complex instrument; it has over 12,000 parts. More than 10,000 of these are moving parts.
  • More than 18 million Americans know how to play the piano.
  • The piano has 230 strings. All these strings are needed to reach the piano’s full range of sound.
  • The longest piano concert that was ever held was by Romuald Koperski, a Polish musician. The concert lasted 103 hours and 8 seconds.

Symbolism of the Piano

As you can imagine, there’s a lot of symbolism related to the piano since it has been around for more than 300 years. In fact, because of the age of this musical instrument, there are several competing symbolic ideas, including dream interpretations and psychological meanings.

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  • Contentment or Romance: Because of the mellow and comforting sounds pianos can make, it symbolizes contentment in an individual, and sometimes romance. This is the most popular and predominant piece of symbolism related to the piano. This is related to any type of piano, old, new, broken. It does not matter. The piano is a sign of happiness and peace.
  • Family Unity: There was a time when the piano was also a symbol of family unity. It was not uncommon for a family to gather around a piano, while one person played music. Although this isn’t the case in most household today, a piano can still be seen as a symbol of family unit – loved ones spending time together, creating happy memories.
  • Luxury and Wealth: When the piano was first created, it was a rather expensive piece, as one might imagine. Truth be told, pianos are still costly, especially certain types and models. As a result, the piano can easily symbolize social status, privilege, and wealth.
  • Social Status: In the early days of the piano, the instrument also represented social status. Although women were highly encouraged not to play the piano for money, a woman or girl who could play the piano was respected for her talent of mastering this musical instrument.
  • Upcoming Rough Patch in One’s Life: A broken piano symbolizes a rough or uncomfortable time that will occur in one’s life.

Relevance of the Piano Today

The piano is, of course, still around today. But, although it is a popular musical instrument, it is far from being the most popular. Over the last 100 years, the number of pianos you can find in a private residence has dwindled.

There was a time when the piano did symbolize family unity. Playing the piano was a skill at least one person in a home had. Families would gather around the piano almost nightly. However, as time passed, other ways to listen to music in the home were invented. As a result, the piano’s popularity began to dwindle.

In the late 20th century, the electronic keyboard gained both popularity and acceptance. This reduced the piano’s overall cultural importance. Electronic keyboards are cheaper, portable, and take up far less space in a home or studio. Thus, while the piano in no way has become obsolete, it is certainly not as popular or practical as it once was.

Owning your own piano is still a status symbol, perhaps even more so than before. This is because today the piano is more a symbol of luxury than it used to be previously.

Wrapping Up

There is symbolism in almost all things in this world; the piano is no different. When you are looking at symbolism for an item that has been in existence for centuries, you will find a lot of it, and it changes with the times. The piano is no different.

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.