The piano is one of the most famous and popular musical instruments. Surely there is not a single person in the world who has not seen this instrument and has not heard its sound. But at the same time, the piano is one of the most complex instruments in its structure.
Is Piano A String Instrument?
And when we are more interested in how the piano works, we usually have the question, is piano a string instrument or a percussion instrument? Let’s find the answer to this question.
- 1 The Different Types of Music Instruments
- 2 Is Piano a String Instrument or Percussion Instrument?
- 3 What kind of instrument is the piano? – Our Verdict
The Different Types of Music Instruments
All musical instruments are divided into several categories depending on the way the sound is extracted. If you look at a symphony orchestra, you will notice that the instruments are arranged in groups.
In the most widely used system, there are 4 main groups of musical instruments – Woodwinds, Percussion instruments, String instruments, and Brass instruments.
Let’s learn a little more about the system of classifying musical instruments.
The largest group is string musical instruments. They have strings stretched between two points. In turn, it is divided into smaller subgroups – bowed strings (violin) and plucked strings (harp).
Bowed string instruments:
- double bass.
Plucked string instruments:
- ukulele, etc.
Usually, the body of a stringed instrument is hollow and made of high-quality wood. Strings are usually made of steel or nylon.
Bowed instruments also have a wooden horsehair bow. When playing the guitar, a guitar pick is often used.
Stringed instruments use vibration to produce sound. They produce deep, rich sounds that can be high or low – depending on the size of the instrument and the thickness of the strings.
The next group is woodwind instruments. As their name suggests, they are made of wood. The sound is produced thanks to the air – the musician blows into the instrument and thus receives the sound.
However, now, to create modern woodwind instruments, manufacturers use not only wood but also metal and plastic.
When air (or wind) blows into an instrument, it vibrates and makes a sound. By closing some holes (sometimes called keys) or by blowing more or less strongly, the pitch of the sounds can be changed.
The third group is brass. Brass instruments are the loudest and most common in any orchestra.
These are metal wind instruments that were originally made of copper. Other metals are also used in modern ones.
The principle of playing is the same as on woodwinds. When you play a wind instrument, you create music by closing your lips and making them vibrate by breathing air into the instrument, just like you do with woodwinds. When the valves are pressed, different sections of the pipe open and close, changing the pitch of the sound.
- french horn,
Percussion is a very large and diverse group of musical instruments. We can rightly say that these are the most popular instruments. They are widely used not only in classical music but also in creating music of other genres – pop, rock, folk, etc.
There are different ways to produce sound from percussion instruments. Such an instrument makes a sound when it is struck, shaken, or scratched. In this way, many different sounds are created that keep the pace and give color and texture to the orchestra.
Percussion usually does not have a definite pitch, except for some of them (xylophone, triangle, etc.).
Timing and using the appropriate touch are key components of playing this type of instrument.
Is Piano a String Instrument or Percussion Instrument?
You may notice that the piano can be attributed to two groups at once. It has piano strings, so it can be called a string instrument, but there are also signs of a percussion instrument – we play the piano by hitting the keys, and the hammers, in turn, hit the strings to create sound.
How Does a Piano Work?
Let’s see how the acoustic piano produces sounds. The piano is a very complex instrument with many parts. Its primary interface is an 88-key keyboard.
The principle of operation of the piano is called hammer action. We can blow out the 3 main parts that take part in creating the sound. These are keys, hammers, and wippen. At the same time, the piano has fixed strings of different lengths and thicknesses.
When we press a key on the keyboard, the felt-covered hammer strikes the string. When strings vibrate, we hear a sound. When we release the key, the damper drops and the sound stops. This is very clearly seen in the grand piano.
A very interesting instrument is the forerunner of the piano, the harpsichord. It also has a keyboard and keys like a piano, the sound is produced by the way of vibrating strings, but it does not have hammers, the sound is created by plucking. Thanks to this way of creating sound, Harpsichord has unusual timbres.
Modern musicians do not often play the harpsichord. If you want to know more about this instrument and how it differs from the piano, check out our article.
Is a Piano a String Instrument?
Why is the piano often called a string instrument? It is the piano strings that produce sounds when we play the instrument.
Like any other string instrument, the piano has strings of different lengths and thicknesses that produce sounds of different pitches.
Also, the dulcimer, one of the forerunners of the pianos, was a stringed instrument.
Is a Piano a Percussion Instrument?
Why do musicians consider the piano a percussion instrument? You can play with your hands on all 88 keys of the piano keyboard. The hammers on a piano are similar to the hammers on a drum kit.
Unlike stringed ones, piano strings cannot be plucked directly. A piano cannot play music without a hammer and soundboard.
As you can see, in a technical sense the piano is very close to a percussion instrument, but it has some differences.
Is a Piano a Percussion Instrument?
What Instrument Family is The Piano in?
The piano combines features of both a percussion instrument and a string instrument. Essentially, the piano falls between these two groups. But still, the piano has more in common with percussion ones, therefore, according to the classification of the piano, it is customary to call it a percussion instrument.
Is the piano a string instrument or a percussion instrument?
What kind of instrument is the piano? – Our Verdict
Is the piano a string instrument or a percussion instrument? Perhaps the most correct answer is both.
If we look from a different perspective of view and look at the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system, we see that the piano belongs to the family of percussion chordophones. Chordophone is a musical instrument that can create sound using vibrating strings.
The piano produces sounds through the vibration of the strings, but this is not possible without the use of the piano’s hammer mechanism. If you get a chance to peek inside an acoustic piano, be sure to do so and see how it works.
And yet, despite the presence of strings and their irreplaceable role in the mechanism of the piano, it is officially customary to call it a percussion instrument. In symphony orchestras, the percussion group includes the piano.
If you pay attention to the digital pianos, you will notice that there are only signs of a percussion instrument in it. If the string is no longer needed to create electric sound, but the hammer mechanism is used as usual.
If you are interested in learning more about digital pianos, check out our comparison charts of the best keyboards:
If you want to learn more about whether a piano is a string instrument or a percussion instrument, watch the following video.
Hello! My name is Lucy.
I am a musician, pianist, and piano teacher with over 10 years of experience. I, along with my professional team, created this website. Here I want to share my experience and knowledge with you. I write articles about learning the piano, its features and history, and reviews of the best digital pianos and accessories.
I hope my site will be useful to you!