The increased weight of stringing was met by steel arches placed at intervals between the wrest-plank and the belly-rail, but the belly-rail was still free from the thrust of the wooden bracing, the direction of which was confined to the sides of the case, as it had been in the harpsichord.

Stodart appears to have preceded Broadwood in taking up the manufacture of the grand piano by four or five years. In 1777 he patented an alternate pianoforte and harpsichord, the drawing of which patent shows the Backers action. The pedals he employed were to shift the harpsichord register and to bring on the octave stop. The present pedals were introduced in English and grand pianos by 1785, and are attributed to John Broadwood, who appears to have given his attention at once to the improvement of Backers' instrument. Hitherto the grand piano had been made with an undivided belly-bridge, the same as the harpsichord had been; the bass strings in three unisons, to the lowest note, being of brass. Theory would require that the notes of different octaves should be multiples of each other and that the tension should be the same for each string. The lowest bass strings, which at that time were the note F, would thus require a vibrating length of about twelve feet. As only half this length could be afforded, the difference had to be made up in the weight of the strings and their tension, which led, in these early grands, to many inequalities. The three octaves toward the treble could, with care, be adjusted, the lengths being practically the ideal lengths.

It was in the bass octaves (pianos were then of five octaves) the inequalities were more conspicuous. To make a more perfect scale and equalize the tension was the merit and achievement of John Broadwood, who joined to his own practical knowledge and sound intuitions the aid of professed men of science. The result was the divided bridge, the bass strings being carried over the shorter division, and the most beautiful grand pianoforte in its lines and curves that has ever been made was then manufactured. In 1791 he carried his scale up to C, five and a half octaves; in 1794 down to C, six octaves, always with care for the artistic, form. The pedals were attached to the front legs of the stand on which the instrument rested. The right foot-pedal acted first as the piano register, shifting the impact of each hammer to two unisons instead of three; a wooden stop in the right hand key-block permitted the action to be shifted yet further to the right, and reducing the blow to one string only, produced the pianissimo register or una corda of indescribable attractiveness of sound. The cause of this was in the reflected vibration through the bridge to the untouched strings.

The present school of pianoforte playing rejects this effect altogether, but Beethoven valued it, and indicated its use in some of his great works. Steibert called the una corda the celeste, which is more appropriate to it than Adam's application of this name to the harp-stop, by which the latter has gone ever since.

Up to quite the end of the last century the dampers were continued to the highest note in the treble. They were like harpsichord dampers raised by wooden jacks, with a rail or stretcher to regulate their rise, which served also as a back touch to the keys. I have not discovered the exact year when, or by whom, the treble dampers were first omitted, thus leaving that part of the scale undamped. This bold act gave the instrument many sympathetic strings free to vibrate from the bridge when the rest of the instrument was played, each string, according to its length, being an aliquot division of a lower string. This gave the instrument a certain brightness or life throughout, an advantage which has secured its universal adoption. The expedients of an untouched octave string and of utilizing those lengths of wire that lie beyond the bridges have been brought into notice of late years, but the latter was early in the century essayed by W. F. Collard.

From difficulties of tuning, owing to friction and other causes, the real gain of these expedients is small, and when we compare them with the natural resources we have always at command in the normal scale of the instrument, is not worth the cost. The inventor of the damper register opened a floodgate to such aliquot re-enforcement as can be got in no other way. Each lower note struck of the undamped instrument, by excitement from the sound-board carried through the bridge, sets vibrating higher strings, which, by measurement, are primes to its partials; and each higher string struck calls out equivalent partials in the lower strings. Even partials above the primes will excite their equivalents up to the twelfth and double octave. What a glow of tone-color there is in all this harmonic re-enforcement, and who would now say that the pedals should never be used? By their proper use, the student's ear is educated to a refined sense of distinction of consonance and dissonance, and the intention and beauty of Chopin's pedal work becomes revealed.

The next decade, 1790-1800, brings us to French grand pianoforte-making, which was then taken up by Sebastian Erard. This ingenious mechanic and inventor traveled the long and dreary road along which nearly all who have tried to improve the pianoforte have had to journey. He appears, at first, to have adopted the existing model of the English instrument in resonance, tension, and action, and to have subsequently turned his attention to the action, most likely with the idea of combining the English power of gradation with the German lightness of touch. Erard claimed, in the specification to a patent for an action, dated 1808, "the power of giving repeated strokes, without missing or failure, by very small angular motions of the key itself."

Once fairly started, the notion of repetition became the dominant idea with pianoforte-makers, and to this day, although less insisted upon, engrosses time and attention that might be more usefully directed. Some great players, from their point of view of touch, have been downright opposed to repetition actions. I will name Kalkbrenner, Chopin, and, in our own day, Dr. Hans von Bülow. Yet the Erard's repetition, in the form of Hertz's reduction, is at present in greater favor in America and Germany, and is more extensively used, than at any previous period.