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The piano is a keybord instrument consisting of strings hit by felt hammers that are activated by the keyboard. Unlike most keyboard instruments, the force at which the key is pressed determines the volume by the sounded strings.

The mechanism that distinguishes pianos from from other mechanical keyboard instruments is the "escapement action." First perfected by Bartomolo Christofori in the early 1700's. This allows the hammer to fall back, or escape, from the strings after striking. Thus the string can continue to ring out after playing but before being purposely damped by the release of the key.

Pianos are generally made up of three distinct types, defined by the orientation of the strings relative to the keyboard. In a grand piano, the strings are parallel to the ground and stretch away from the keyboard. In an upright piano, the strings are perpendicular to the ground behind the keyboard, and in a square piano (not currently manufactured) the strings are parallel to the ground and run left-to-right behind the keyboard.

Instruments and Voices
Woodwinds Flute (Piccolo/Alto/Bass)RecorderOboe (Cor Anglais/Oboe D'amore/Heckelphone)Clarinet (E♭/Bass/Contrabass)

Bassoon (Contrabassoon)SaxophoneBagpipes

Brass HornCornetTrumpetTromboneEuphoniumTubaSaxhorns
Keyboards PianoOrganHarmoniumHarpsichordClavichordCelestaAccordion
Percussion Tuned: TimpaniGlockenspielChimesVibraphoneXylophoneMarimbaCrotalesMusical sawHammered Dulcimer

Untuned: Snare drumBass drumTriangleCymbalsGongsTom-tomsShakersDrumset

Electronic ThereminOndes MartenotSynthesizerElectronic Wind Instrument
Stringed Bowed: ViolinViolaVioloncelloContrabass

Plucked: HarpGuitarMandolinBanjo

Voices Female: SopranoMezzo-soprano (often mistaken with Alto)Contralto (often mistaken with Alto)

Male: TrebleCountertenorTenorBaritoneBass-baritoneBass