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Piano Glossaries – Annotated Link List

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Piano Glossaries – Annotated Link List

This list is the result of screening, comparing and evaluating the first 50 results in Google for the search term “piano glossary”. By filtering out non-relevant results, e.g. general music glossaries that answer this search, redundant content, and low quality reference works, I hope to ease your search for reliable piano information.

The Perls

Perls are dictionaries and glossaries, that can I recommend wholeheartedly based on their content and design. Here are the piano online glossaries, that will give you a great start in investigation terms related to pianos.

Bill Calhoun’s Piano Glossary: Comprehensive, hyperlinked glossary related to piano parts with rich illustrations and animations. Covered are 44 terms with clearly written and well informed definitions.

Read review | Visit glossary

The Piano Deconstructed – Glossary of Terms: 91 terms related to the piano and its parts. While the definitions are rather poor, each terms is linked to an additional page with rich illustrations and explanations.

Read review | Visit glossary

Piano Renaissance – Piano Glossary: A short compilation, comprising out of 30 terms, of basic & simple terminology and definitions for piano parts commonly used in the rebuilding process.

Read review | Visit glossary

Acoustic Piano Glossary: 38 terms, with well written definitions and illustrations.

Read review | Visit glossary

Keyboard & Digital Piano Glossary: With 63 terms this is a very comprehensive glossary, presented  in a  clean design and with helpful illustrations.

Read review | Visit glossary

Additional recommended piano glossaries

In this section you will find are dictionaries and glossaries, that I recommend, even though I did not dedicate a blog post to them.

Piano glossaries, the annoying part

As the title says….. Don’t waste your time on them!

  • Glossary of piano terms –  Ugly, annoying site behavior (forcing you back to the homepage all the time). 83 terms, but by far not all related to pianos. Shockingly enough, this one is number 1 on Google. Thumbs down!

Keyboard & Digital Piano Glossary

 Glossary Description

It is a strange thing about Vienna. For sure this is the city of classical music, but when my husband studied conducting at the renown Musik Hochschule in Vienna, we felt it was better to have a digital piano in order to avoid any conflicts with our neighbors.

Here is a great glossary about keyboards and digital pianos, again coming from the music shop Sheehans in Leicester, UK.  With 63 terms it is a very comprehensive one, and again in a  clean design and with helpful illustrations.

Example Term:Weighted Keys

Weighted keys feel a lot more like a real piano than a typical spring-bound keyboard. Weighting adds strength to your fingers, encouraging the proper technique and strength needed to play the acoustic piano.

Glossary / Dictionary Details

Title: Keyboard & Digital Piano Glossary Terms: 63
Link Language: English
Quote as: eyboard & Digital Piano Glossary. ©2000-2011 Sheehans Music Services Ltd, 58a London Road, Leicester, UK, LE2 0QD. [+link] Last visited: November 09, 2011

Acoustic Piano Glossary

Glossary Description

This glossary is found on Sheehans website, a  family-run business located in Leicester, UK, trading with musical instruments for over 25 years.

The 38 terms defined in this piano glossary, will be mainly helpful to buyers of a new piano. It clean design and good navigation, will make it easy for to find what you are looking for. As always when talking about piano parts the images added to the glossary are of real value.

What would be worth for being improved? Honestly I only found the glossary via Google. Looking at the website, trying to make my way from the piano section to the glossary, I got lost and the glossary was no way to be found. Finally I managed to see the link to it at the bottom of the page – why not placing it more up in the left side menu? Just a thought.

Example Term: Over-Strung

Strings on an over-strung piano
Strings on an over-strung piano

Also known as ‘cross-strung’. The strings inside the case are placed in a slanted, overlapping arrangement, to permit longer strings, so they can resonate more.

Over-strung pianos were introduced with smaller houses in mind: they avoid losing the volume and tone of a larger, straight-strung piano, but take up much less space. It was made possible with the introduction of the cast-iron frame which could withstand the greater tension required (in the same way that a 12-string guitar has to be stronger than a 6-string guitar).

Glossary / Dictionary Details

Title: Acoustic Piano Glossary Terms: 38 Language: English
Quote as: Acoustic Piano Glossary. ©2000-2011 Sheehans Music Services Ltd, 58a London Road, Leicester, UK, LE2 0QD. [+link] Last visited: November 09, 2011

Piano Renaissance – Piano Glossary

 Glossary Description

Piano Renaissance restores pianos to original excellence. Just like the piano pictured on the left (Source: Piano Renaissance) . To help people who would like their piano restored, the company offers a small glossary –  A short compilation of basic & simple terminology and definitions for parts commonly used in the rebuilding process. Let’s not forget there are thousands of parts that make up one single piano! According to an interesting article about the Grand Steinway, this particular piano “comprised some 12,000 parts, from inch-long bits of maple to a 340-pound plate of cast iron. It had taken nearly a year to build and had passed through the hands of more than 200 workers.”

The definitions are short and to the point, the illustrations added are of great help to understand what one talking about.

Personally, I cannot get enough at looking at these beautiful pianos they restored. You will find images all over their website, or go directly to their photo gallery!

Example Term: Key

A dual lever arm which pivots at the balance rail. Piano keys are made of soft wood (conifer) varieties including sugar pine, basswood and sometimes spruce. The back end of the piano key raises the whippen via the capstan which consequently raises the hammer toward the string. The piano key is in itself a complex mechanism which includes weights for control of touch weight, the key- top, button, capstan, backcheck and two mortises for felt bushings.

Glossary / Dictionary Details

Title: Piano Renaissance – Piano Glossary Terms: 30
Link   Language: English
Quote as: Piano Glossary. By Piano Renaissance. [+link] Last visited: November 09, 2011

The Piano Deconstructed – Glossary of Terms

 About the Glossary Author

Long five university and academic works! This glossary is part of a much larger resource about the piano, called the “The Piano Deconstructed” and which was developed by Christopher Smit as part of the fulfillment of a Masters Degree in Music Technology at Indiana University in Indianapolis.  Again a piano glossary that pays much attention to finding the appropriate presentation of the terms.

Christopher – I have no doubt that your professors loved your work, and do I so too!

Here is what Christopher had in mind for his website:

“Many pianists seem to have no idea how the instrument functions – and several factors may contribute to this lack of knowledge. The action of the piano is almost completely hidden from the sight of the pianist – if the pianist can’t even see the action, they probably do not spend much time thinking about how it works. The piano is also one of the most complicated musical instruments, which may contribute to why pianists do not understand how it works. “The Piano Deconstructed” will present information about the history, physics, and construction of the modern grand piano in order to educate musicians about how the instrument functions.”

Glossary Description

If it was only for the 91 terms and there rather short definitions, I guess I wouldn’t praise this glossary as much it is my pleasure to do here. Each of the terms is linked to another page offering in-depth  information and beautiful illustrations and animations. What a great way to have a look inside a piano!

Example Term: Wippen

– the part of the action that is lifted by the key.

Note: As said the definitions are really very short but here is a screen shot of what you can expect to get, when clicking the link underneath the term “Wippen”:

Glossary / Dictionary Details

Title: The Piano Deconstructed – Glossary of Terms Terms: 91
Link: Language: English
Quote as:  The Piano Deconstructed – Glossary of Terms. ©2004 Christopher Smit [+link] Last visited: November 09, 2011

Bill Calhoun’s Piano Glossary

Bill Calhoun - Piano Technician About the Glossary Author

Glossaries are written by someone, right? In many cases the author of a glossary stays anonymous. Someone in the company did it, but who? Anyway a task that has been forwarded some 100 times, and no one actually liked to take care of it. Maybe the email provided will give you a hint. But that’s it.

And than there are those “other” glossaries, those that are so closely related to the one who took the time to collect and present the information for us.  People with real passion and expertise about a subject. Those, who are serious about sharing  their knowledge.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to one of them: Bill Calhoun – Piano technician and author of an outstanding piano glossary.  Bill holds a Certificate in Piano Technology from the  New England Conservatory of Music, and for over twenty years serves his clients throughout the Boston area.  Bill does everything   from simple repairs in the home to precise regulating and voicing for the professional;  from basic tuning to thorough reconditioning. And Bill passes on his knowledge! Not only in his glossary, website and blog, but Bill enjoys teaching, and offers regular workshops on the physics of music and musical instruments in local schools through The Music School.

Thanks, Bill!

Glossary Description

Don’t let the somewhat old-fashioned design blur your view! This glossary is a pearl. With 44 terms, all related to piano parts, it covers the subject very comprehensively. The hyperlinked terms in the definitions will make easy for you to go on navigating to additional terms of  interest.

So far, so good. Get ready for the special “bonus” of this glossary: Many terms are equipped with a “diagram” icon – opening up a diagram of a piano with the special part marked in red. Several terms even an animation file attached to them. Perfect, how text and vision are used in this glossary.

Example Term: Damper

The damper is a device for suppressing the vibration of a string.  In a grand, the dampers sit on top of the strings; you can see them go up and down as you play the piano.  In an upright, they sit against the strings below the hammers.  The dampers are spring-loaded, and also sometimes weighted.  The last 20 notes or so in the treble don’t have dampers.  The damper consists of a hinged lever, a thick, bendable wire that runs from the lever to a wooden damper head, and specially shaped felts glued to the head.  When you depress a key, the damper lifts off just before the hammer hits the string.  When you let go of the key, the damper returns, damping the string.  In an upright, the damper is lifted off the string by a little metal spoon on the wippen.  In a grand, the damper is lifted by the end of the key.

Glossary / Dictionary Details

Title: Piano Glossary Terms: 44
Link: Language: English
Quote as: Piano Glossary. By Bill Calhoun. [+link] Last visited: November 09, 2011
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