So, is a piano a string or a percussion instrument? Many people and musicians have debated this topic for a long time, but what is the real score? Let’s solve this debate once and for all in this post.
Labels don’t matter, they say. But when it comes to the piano – one of the most popular instruments of all time – there’s no giving up in this string – percussion debacle.
But first, let’s define what a string instrument is. There are three types of musical instruments. These are strings, winds, and percussions. String instruments, also known as stringed instruments or chordophones, are musical instruments that create sound by vibrating strings. Strings can produce music with either one string or multiple strings. Also, strings can be played with either the hand through plucking or through rubbing strings. Examples of string instruments are violins, guitars, harps, cellos, and piano?
So why do people say the piano is a string instrument? It may not be visible from the outside, but when you open the back, it’s made up of hundreds of strings intricately arranged. Also, to tune a piano, you need to adjust the strings behind it. But for the sole reason that the piano produces music through strings, then there’s no way that it could be a percussion.
Percussion instruments are instruments that play sound once you hit, shake, or scrape. The role of the percussion is to keep the rhythm of a piece while adding color and flavor to it. Examples of percussion instruments include drum kits, tambourines, rainmakers, maracas, and piano?
So why do people say the piano is a percussion instrument? People argue that, although the piano produces sound by its fixed strings, it cannot produce sound unless you hit the keys that will activate a felt-covered hammer inside. But this explanation is often countered with percussions don’t have tune nor definite pitch. With this, they say that some percussion instruments do have tunes and notes, with the likes of xylophone, marimba, and timpani.
It can be both. According to the Hornbostel-Sachs system, a system that classifies musical instruments, piano belongs to the percussive chordophone family. And things can get complicated from there. The primary interface of the piano is a keyboard, which covers many different kinds of instruments. For example, the keyboard includes organ, which is practically a wind instrument, as well as the harpsichord, which is considered as a plucked-string instrument. But if you take the piano being under keyboard out of the picture, then the piano is just a “hammered dulcimer”, an instrument which is a partial inspiration for designing the piano.
But let’s keep things simple here. Piano is not a percussion, at least in the technical sense. But which family is it the nearest? It would be indeed percussion. Why? Because the only way to play it is by hitting the keys, which activates the hammers. And although the sound is produced by strings, hitting it makes the piano a percussion.
We hope we answered the question, “Is a piano a string or a percussion instrument”? If you’re looking for a piano – either new or used – check out our shop by clicking here.