Pianoforte (Ital. piano, soft, and forte, loud), a musical instrument, the tones of which are elicited by the blows of small hammers upon a series of tightly stretched elastic steel strings; the hammers being caused, through certain connections, to rise upon the striking of the corresponding keys of a finger board, and the tones being strengthened and rendered melodious by the reciprocal vibrations of a sounding board, over and near to which the strings are stretched. In his history of the pianoforte, Dr. Eimbault traces the first principle of the instrument, the stretched string, to the ancient lyre; and from this he shows a course of gradual modification through the forms of the harp, the psaltery, the dulcimer, etc. The first marked approach to the pianoforte appears in the transition from the dulcimer to the clavicitherium (keyed cithara), a small oblong box, holding a series of strings in triangle form, and struck by plectra of quill attached to the inner ends of the keys. This application of the keyboard to stringed instruments is believed to have been first made in the 12th century. Next followed the clavichord, which continued in favor for about six centuries, though in part giving place to varieties known as the cymbal and manichord.

The damper, a contrivance allowed to fall or rest upon the string, so as to arrest its vibration when the key has been released by the finger, was introduced at an early period into the clavichord. An improvement upon the keyed cithara, called the virginal, was very popular with Queen Elizabeth and ladies of her time. In this the strings, of catgut, were at once struck and pulled by pieces of quill fixed in the upper end of short, upright jacks upon the inner ends of the keys. The spinet, of about the same period (1500-1760), was a larger triangular box, having sometimes 49 strings, some of steel wire, and also played on by means of a jack and quill (spina). The body of the so-called square pianoforte, which is oblong in form, is evidently copied from that of the clavichord; while the almost triangular arrangement of the strings as clearly has its origin in the form assumed by the strings of the spinet. The harpsichord was substantially a horizontal harp, played by means of keys with jacks and quills.

It was manufactured in Italy early in the 16th century, and long maintained its place, being extended from four to at least six octaves, and often having double strings; while into some of its improved forms were introduced pedals, and even arrangements for transposing the music by shifting the action of the keys to different sets of strings. The most distinguished harpsichord maker of London, from about the year 1740 to 1775, was Burckhardt Tschudi, a native of Switzerland, whose son-in-law, John Broad-wood, was one of the earliest piano makers in England, founding the firm still represented in London under this name. The transition from the instruments here named to the piano appears to have taken place about 160 years since; and yet, unless we may rely on the article by Maffei in the Giomale dei letterati d'Italia (Venice, 1711), we must regard the place of this important invention and the inventor's name as obscure, or even lost. The invention has been claimed in turn by Italians, Germans, French, and English. By some writers it is asserted that the first improvement from the spinet and harpsichord consisted merely in the introduction into the latter of hammers, formed each of a leather button on the top of a short stout wire, taking the place of the jack.

These hammers could not readily enough quit the string after striking, and its tone was in this way deadened. Such a change would form no marked improvement on those instruments. But the article of Maffei, above mentioned, which is full and specific, and accompanied with a cut, and which is translated at length in Rimbault's work, describes, as having been constructed by Bartolommeo Cristo-fali, a harpsichord maker of Padua, an instrument in which the strings were vibrated by hammers, and acted through a complex mechanism, the parts of which were a key, lever, movable tongue acting on the hammer, the hammer, its rest of silk strings, and a damper. Such a mechanism would allow of the rapid stroke and sudden recedence of the hammer, leaving the string free to vibrate until, by releasing the key, the damper should be allowed to check its movement; and thus it would accomplish in a manner all that was aimed at in the earlier " actions " of German and English makers. If this account be genuine, it settles a long controversy, and proves Oristofali (before 1711) the real inventor of the pianoforte.

In 1716 Marius, a French maker of harpsichords, submitted to the academy four forms of instruments of which he claimed to be the inventor, termed by him clavecins d maillets (hammer harpsichords). In some of these the hammers were in a degree detached from the keys. A third claimant to the invention is Ohristoph Gottlieb Schroter, who asserted some years later that he had devised in 1717 an arrangement of keys, springs, and hammers, which others were already employing without due credit. He is believed by some to have suggested the present name by his statement, in a published account in 1768, that on his instruments the performer " at pleasure might jd&yforU or piano." At the outset, however, the instrument was not appreciated, which may account for the obscurity resting over its origin. Silbermann of Freiburg first became somewhat popular as a manufacturer; and in 1747 Frederick the Great was so pleased with some pianofortes of his, that he purchased the whole stock, 15 in all; but these were still very imperfect, and were allowed to fall into disuse when, in 1765, the king received an improved harpsichord from Tschudi of London. Of these German instruments, which appear to have been square, the strings were double, and the compass was not more than four and a half or five octaves.

They were adopted, however, by Haydn, Gluck, and other composers of the time; one made for Gluck in 1772 was 4 1/2 ft. long by 2 ft. broad, the sounding board at one end only, and the strings mere threads compared with those now in use. The first piano known in England (about 1757) was made by an English monk at Rome. About 1760 many German mechanics arrived in England, two of whom, Viator and Backers, became known by their improvements in pianos. In 1767 the piano was introduced on the stage of Covent Garden theatre as "a new instrument," according to a playbill bearing date May 16 of that year, now in possession of the Messrs. Broadwood. About 1755 the poet Mason had invented an action for the piano; but this seems not to have come into permanent use. In 1774 a patent was granted to Joseph Merlin for a compound harpsichord, having hammers on the plan of the pianoforte. A more positive claim on the part of English makers is that concerning the first invention of a grand action, it being admitted that about 1772 Americus Backers, a German, assisted by John Broadwood and Robert Stodart, all in the employ of Tschudi, together succeeded in applying an action, similar to that then in use in pianofortes, to the harpsichord.

The action devised by them is essentially the same as that still used by the firms of Broadwood and Stodart in London, early adopted by Pleyel and by Herz in Paris, and known among European mechanics as the English action, in this country more commonly as the Pleyel action. It is marked by simplicity, efficiency, and durability, whence it is called also the direct action. From the time of this change the harpsichord makers rapidly became piano makers. The earliest entry of a piano on the books of Broadwood and co. occurs under the date of 1771; of a grand piano, 1781. - The piano is now made in three distinctive forms: the grand, the square, and the upright; in the first two the strings run horizontally, in the third vertically or obliquely upward. Of these, the upright is the form most common in England, the square in the United States, but large numbers of upright and grand pianos are now made in this country. The square pianos of the United States probably surpass in workmanship and perfection of tone those of any other country; but the grand piano is that adapted to the introduction of the best mechanism, and hence it is always chosen in cases where, as in a concert instrument, the greatest power and brilliancy are required.

In the grand, all the octaves, save about two lowest in the scale, have for each note three strings attuned in unison and struck at once by the same hammer; from four to seven of the lowest strings may be single, and through about another octave and a half two strings to each note are often used. The largest of these instruments are known as full or concert grands; a medium size, as semi-grands; a size still less, as parlor grands. The square piano, until the application to it of mechanism somewhat similar to that of the grands, was a very inferior instrument. The upright was at first a grand set on end, and raised on legs; the hammers over or in front of the strings, striking them at their lower ends. In other forms the hammers are almost invariably below the strings. The first patent for an upright appears to have been granted to William Stodart in 1795. In 1807 William Southwell of Dublin reduced the dimensions of the upright, before very unwieldy, replacing it by the " cabinet," in which also the frame was lowered, and by means of long slender stickers the strings were struck above. In 1811 Robert Wornum introduced the "cottage" upright, 4 to 5 ft. high; and in 1827 the " piccolo," rising not more than 3 1/2 ft. from the floor.

The compass of the scale of piano keys did not at first exceed five octaves, from FF, or the F below the lowest of the violoncello, to F in alt. It was next extended to C above; then to F yet above this, making six octaves; by a third extension, to the 0 below; and then, by an added treble string, to G. Thus its compass came to be from CCC (corresponding to about 64 single vibrations a second, and to an open organ pipe 16 ft. long) to G, six and a half octaves above. Large pianos are now commonly made with a compass of seven octaves, the bass reaching to about A below CCC, and the treble being extended also by one or more strings. In the London exhibition of 1851 was a piano of seven and a half, and another of eight octaves. The corresponding enlargement of the instrument, and especially of the sound board, gives an augmented volume and force of tone; but the deficient quality of the uppermost notes has led good judges to question whether any real advantage is gained by exceeding seven octaves. - The making of pianos is divisible into four parts: 1, the framing and sound board; 2, the stringing; 3, the keys and action; 4, the ornamental or other case.

1. Framing And Sound Board

In pianos of full to largest size, the sum of the tensions of the strings, when stretched in attuning, is not less than from 6 to 12 tons. Hence the framing, or those parts within the case which serve as a strut or stretcher between the ends of the strings, and which are to resist this enormous pull, must be made correspondingly strong and rigid; since by any gradual yielding under the pull of the strings, their lengths and tensions, and hence their tone, must undergo proportionate change. In the earlier instruments, having small strings, the frame was of timber only. Builders then sought only truthfulness of tone, depth and power being out of the question. With the progress of metallurgy, and the gradual introduction of iron structures, this metal came to be used for the piano frame (i. e., for the platform or parts receiving the strings, which is not to be confounded with the case). This frame was cast in a few parts, which were united by.bolts op screws; and this plan is still followed in London, and indeed in Europe generally.

In pianos of all forms, the scale of lengths of successive strings required to yield the notes through the compass of the instrument results in a series of strings conveniently grouped in a form identical with or approximating that familiarly known in the harp. In grands the inner or remote ends of the strings run in a curve representing the curved side of the harp, the treble strings lying to the right hand. In squares, usually, the harp curve is represented by the ends of the strings toward the right-hand side of the performer, and lying nearer to him. The ends of the strings corresponding to the straight side of the harp thus lie, in grands, in front, terminating in this case, however, in a less marked curve; and the like extremities in the squares, which until recently always terminated in a straight line, lie to the left hand and back of the instrument. It is near to this part of the strings - at the remote side in squares, and in front in grands - that the hammers are always made to strike, the proper distance of the point of striking being about one eighth to one ninth the entire length of each string. The parts of the framing and connections of the strings can now be understood.

Always at the ends which are arranged in what we have called the harp curve, the strings are permanently fastened to pins or studs, now made to enter and project directly from the iron plate. About each one of these, called the hitch pins, a string is in some cases bent, so as to return to the other side, corresponding to two single wires; in other cases, each single wire is secured to a pin by terminating in a loop. In either case, the strings terminate in ends at the opposite (answering to the straight) side, and each is here wound about a larger movable pin, by turning which the tuner increases or relaxes the tension. The plate in which stand the hitch pins is termed the string plate; that receiving and giving support to the tuning pins (wrest pins), the wrest plank; and this, owing to the greater sonorousness of wood than of iron, is almost invariably a wooden strip or plank, though in various ways let into and supported by the iron castings which furnish the required strength to the part. The string plate and wrest plank are secured by bolts and otherwise to firm timbers beneath them; the whole being received within the parts of the case.

But the chief part of the strain of the strings is borne, in grands, by means of several strong iron or steel bars rising above the strings, and running parallel with them, and in squares by one or two such bars, these being formerly, and in Europe still in most instances, cast separately, and then firmly screwed down to the iron plates at both ends. In grand pianos the framing and sound board are severed across in front, to allow' of the rise of the hammers, this part being strengthened by arches of metal and otherwise. The system of metallic bracing, first generally introduced by the invention of Thom and Allen in 1820, was brought nearly to its present form, including the tension bars above referred to, by Pierre Erard of Paris in 1825. The sounding board is a sheet of thin, carefully prepared board, usually made of American spruce, free from knots and flaws, strengthened on the under side with small transverse ribs, and now made to extend across nearly the entire instrument, beneath the strings. Its edges merely are' grasped between parts of the frame and case, and sometimes at particular points only, so that the middle portion is left free to vibrate.

On its perfection the quality of the tones must depend in a high degree.

2. Strings

At first steel wires were used for the treble notes of the pianoforte, and brass for the bass; and as all the wires were short, those for the lower notes were wound or overlapped by wires of less thickness, for the purpose of increasing their weight, to a greater extent than is now required. Mr. Oollard introduced in 1827 the plan of bending each wire about the hitch pin, as now commonly practised, thus obviating the tendency of the string to yield, twist, or break, in consequence of the noose formed at the end. Steel wire was also introduced throughout. A few of the lower strings are still wound, the upper of these with soft iron, the lower with copper; and this lapping is now with finer wire, and very close. The length of the vibrating part of each string is determined by the places of two bridges, over or through holes in which the strings are stretched. The bridge nearest the hitch pins is upon and attached to the sound board, to which it aids in communicating the vibration of the strings; the other runs along the edge of the wrest plank or plate, near to the tuning pins. Beyond the bridges at either end the string is known as dead wire, and any interfering vibration of this part is prevented by interlacing these ends with stout tape, or in other ways.

When both supports determining the vibrating length of the strings were bridges merely, the blow of the hammer from below tended slightly to elongate the string and to lift it from the nearer bridge, and so altered the tone. To prevent this result, Sebastien firard invented in 1808 the plan of passing the strings at the end struck by the hammers through holes piercing the bridge or rim projecting from the wrest plank, and so shaping the latter that from these holes the strings slope directly upward to the pins. The effect of this important improvement, termed the upward bearing, is that the string is no longer lifted or appreciably lengthened by the blow of the hammer, since to this the strain of the string is now directly opposed; and its length remaining constant, its pitch is equable and its tone stronger. An improvement called the agraffe (d graffe) was also introduced by Sebastien Erard in 1819, in which the bridge just spoken of is conveniently replaced by a stud or pin for each string, pierced with two or three holes for the wires, and made fast below in the wrest plank.

3. Action

By the action of the piano is to be understood the mechanism, consisting of several small interposed parts, by which the pressure of the finger upon each key is to be transmitted in the most effective manner through the hammer to the corresponding string. The oldest of the actions which have been (in modified forms) retained are those of the square piano. In the original of these the key had upon it near its inner end a lifter of stout wire capped with a soft leather button, this striking and elevating the hammer; while still beyond this rose a sticker which at the same time lifted from the wire a damper above it - a lever having a bit of soft cloth at the end; on releasing the key, this damper returned upon the string, checking its vibration. This arrangement formed the single action. Its faults were that the tone was thin and wiry; that in playing very piano the pressure on the key did not always cause the hammer to reach the string; while, if the hammer rest was brought too near the string, the hammer did not quit the latter soon enough, and the effect of this was termed blocking.

To remedy these defects, Longman and co. introduced the hopper or grasshopper, invented in 1786 by John Gieb. This hopper took the place of the lifter; it was a jointed upright piece which, when the key was pressed down, engaged in a notch under the hammer, and just before the instant of striking slipped past the end of the hammer, allowing this after the blow suddenly to fall. "With this was employed also a second or under hammer, multiplying the velocity of the first, on the principle of the compound lever. This mechanism was the double action, still substantially in use with many makers in uprights and squares. To this was afterward added the Irish damper, the invention of Southwell (1794-'8), which was simply an upright rod, with a piece of soft cloth above, which the key, so long as it remained depressed, lifted off the string. Still the hammers would sometimes rebound from the string with such force as to return upon it, checking its sound. To remedy this, a small, inclined, rough surface of felt was so fixed on a wire support as to be rubbed by the head of the hammer in its descent, and thus gradually to destroy its velocity; this was called the check.

The English grand action, so called, already alluded to as that of Backers, adopted by Broad-wood, Stodart, and others, consisted of a key, a jack (lever, in place of the hopper), a button so placed as to regulate the sweep of the jack, a spring pressing to restore the jack to its place after the movement, a hammer on the but of which the jack acted, the check, and a damper arrangement, of which various forms could be employed, with rails and sockets connecting or fixing the needful points. But in this arrangement it was still a defect that, after a stroke of the hammer, the jack could not reengage it until, by release of the key, the parts had returned to their first position. This required time, and any note could not be rapidly repeated. The defect was first remedied by an invention of Sebastien Erard in 1821, improved in 1827, termed the repetition action. This was an improvement upon a previous action of his, which as now modified, under the name of the French action, is still in use with many makers in America and Europe, and the origin of which is believed to be due to Petzold. In the repetition action, consisting of an arrangement of levers and springs too complex to be described here, the hammer is caused to be, through its whole sweep, at the command of the player, so that the note can be reproduced at half stroke, or at any fraction of an entire stroke.

To secure this result, when the hammer recoils from the string, it is, by means of a roller, lever, and spring, upheld so long as the key is not entirely released, and in such a way that it can neither return to the string nor fall; and while thus suspended near the string, its blow upon the string may be, by aid of an escapement button, repeated at the pleasure of the player. The French repetition action is thus complex and delicate. Broadwood retained the English grand action, applying to it directly a repetition adapted from the French by Southwell, probably in 1827. This was accomplished by passing through the hammer but a block or bar, a spring pressing upon, this so that when the jack passes the notch it is caught by this bar, and the hammer is sustained ready to repeat the blow, until, as before, the key is entirely released. The escapement button also appears in this arrangement, and a second spring determining the height at which the hammer shall rest. The varieties of grand action are very great, those used in the United States being all based on either the English, here described, or the French of Petzold and Erard. - Stops were early introduced into the piano, but, save in parts of continental Europe, they have been abandoned; several pedals are there also used, but in England and this country only two, one for forte effects, the other for piano.

The forte pedal is quite effectual, and besides not injurious to the instrument. The earlier piano pedal, passing the action to one string, is straining to the centres of the hammers, and apt to disturb the tuning of the unisons - the strings intended to yield the same note. The jeu celeste, a later pedal arrangement, obviates these defects. In this, tongues or strips of soft leather or wool are so held, that by pressure on the pedal they can be raised between the strings and the hammers, thus softening the sound. This, of late somewhat contested, we have seen in a piano of Petzold's, marked 1823; and in the same also is found the long or full sound board, supposed by many to have been more recently introduced. It should be added that the hammers are of wood, the heads covered, according to size, with one or more layers of thick and firm felt. This material, soft woollen. etc, are introduced in many parts also to prevent the click or rattling which would otherwise attend the movements. - Various contrivances have been resorted to for the purpose of securing sustained sounds in the pianoforte; a very good example of these was Mott's sosti-aente pianoforte (1817), in which the continued tone was attained by communicating the vibration of the strings to silk threads and skeins arranged in a peculiar manner.

The seolian attachment of Isoard consists in causing a current of air, supplied by a bellows, to act on the string, thus prolonging its tone on the principle of the seolian harp. A similar effect is produced by the seolian attachment invented by Mr. Obed Coleman of Barnstable, Mass., about 1843. In " transposing pianofortes," the keyboard and action, or the strings and framing, can be shifted laterally, so as to cause the hammers to strike a different set of strings, thus transposing the music, according to the arrangement, a half or whole note, or several notes, upward or downward. Melographic pianos, or those which, by added mechanism, shall register and preserve the improvisations of a composer, have been attempted by many, dating from the time of Hohlfeld, who, at the suggestion of Euler, essayed this in 1752. Probably the most successful attempt of this kind is that of Debain of Paris, exhibited in 1851.

4. Case, And Making

It is unnecessary here to detail particulars concerning the case of the piano, or concerning the various woods, metals, and other materials found to be best fitted to enter into its construction. The manufacture of the instrument gives employment to a great variety of artisans, among whom the work of the several parts is minutely divided; these are the key makers, hammer makers, hammer leatherers, string makers, stringers, case makers, finishers, etc. The construction is a slow process, and cannot well be hurried, the making of a grand piano usually requiring six months. - American Manufacture and Improvements. Until the beginning of the present century the attempts at pianoforte making in the United States were few, and the results of no practical importance. Jonas Ohickering, the founder of the house of Chick-ering and sons, of Boston and New York, has been properly called the father of the business in the United States. He was a cabinet maker, began to manufacture pianos in 1822, and exposed his first instrument for sale in Boston on April 15,1823. At the time of his death, in December, 1853, his business had increased to 15 pianos a week, and since, in the hands of his sons, it has become still more widely extended.

The two most prominent features in the recent wonderful development of the piano manufacture in America are the invention and gradual perfection of the iron frame and the introduction of the overstrung scale. A patent was granted in 1825 to Alpheus Babcock of Philadelphia for the invention of a cast-iron frame, made oblong to increase the power of resistance to the pull of the strings. In this the principle was first practically introduced of casting the hitch-pin plate and that part which supports the wrest plank in one piece. In 1833 Conrad Meyer of Philadelphia exhibited, at the fair of the Franklin institute in that city, a square piano with a full cast-iron frame, substantially like that now used by all American makers. Jonas Chickering was the first (1837) to use the entire iron frame cast with the parallel bars in one piece; and about 1840 he applied the same principle to the construction of grand pianos, while John Buttikof er of New York, who began the manufacture of grand pianos at the same time, imitated in every respect the instruments of Sebastien Erard. Instead of using the agraffes of Erard and other European makers, Chickering cast the iron frames of his grand pianos with an upward ledge or projection, through which holes were bored for the passage of the strings.

In 1845 he adopted the circular scale for square pianos, in which the strings were less crowded and the tone was strengthened and improved. At that time upright pianos were not manufactured in America, and the wooden imported uprights having failed to stand the climate, a prejudice arose against them which for many years prevented American makers from adopting that form. Although pianos with the iron frame stand in tune better than those constructed wholly of wood, their thin sharp tone prevented their general adoption, and up to 1855 their manufacture was confined chiefly to Boston. The New York makers used in their square pianos only a small hitch-pin plate, securing the capacity of standing in tune by solidity of construction, heavy bracing of the case, and the use of a solid bottom or bed, about 5 in. thick, which made the instruments heavy in weight and appearance. When the compass gradually extended to seven octaves and more, it was found impossible to obtain the necessary power of resistance against the pull of the strings when the case was made of wood only. The adoption of the iron frame then became necessary.

In 1855 Steinway and sons of New York constructed a piano with a solid front bar and full iron frame, the latter covering the wrest plank, the bridge of which was made of wood. The brace in the treble connecting the hitch-pin plate with the wrest-plank plate was slightly elevated above the strings, and ran in a different direction from the latter, exactly to the angle at which the wrest plank had to sustain the pull of the strings. The bridges of the sounding board were so grouped that they came considerably nearer to its middle, and their lineal length was increased by placing the bass strings over the others (overstringing them) across three nearly parallel bridges, the length of which over the sounding board was increased from 40 to 64 in., while their position was changed to nearer the middle of the sounding board. The first instrument made on this plan received the first prize, a gold medal, at the exhibition of the American institute in the crystal palace, New York, in 1855, and the new mode of construction soon became the standard for all manufacturers in this country. In 1856 Steinway and sons began the manufacture of grand pianos, and several other New York houses soon followed.

The grand pianos made in America at that time were constructed on the same general principles as those made in Europe, but with a cast-iron frame. On Nov. 29, 1859, Steinway and sons received a patent for an improvement, consisting of a complete cast-iron frame, in which the projection for the agraffes lapped over and abutted against the wrest plank, and a new arrangement of the strings and braces. In the treble register the strings were parallel with the blow of the hammer, but from the middle of the scale the unisons of the strings were spread gradually from right to left like a fan along the bridge of the sounding board. The covered strings of the lower octaves were laid a little higher and across the others, and spread in the same form as the others, but from left to right, on a lengthened sounding-board bass bridge running parallel to the first bridge. Several important advantages were thus obtained. By lengthening the bridges of the sounding board, more of its surface was covered; the space between the unisons of the strings was increased, thus more powerfully developing the sound from the sounding board; and the bridges, being moved from the iron-covered edges nearer to the middle of the sounding board, produced a greater volume of tone, while the obliqueness of the strings in respect to the blow of the hammers produced the rotating vibrations which give to the thicker strings softness and pliability.

The system of bracing also was far more effective, and the power of keeping in tune greatly increased. The first grand piano constructed on this plan was played publicly for the first time at the New York academy of music, Feb. 8, 1859. Lindeman and sons of New York introduced in 1860 the so-called cycloid pianos (patented Aug. 7, I860), intended to combine the advantages of the grand and square forms, while possessing the strength and sonorousness of tone of the grand piano. In 1863 a patent was granted to Decker brothers of New York for an improvement in square pianos, by which they claimed to prevent the too heavy bearing of the strings. A patent was given to Steinway and sons in 1866 for a double iron frame for upright pianos, in which the front plate and rear frame were cast in one piece, giving the instrument a superior capacity for standing in tune; also for an improvement called the resonator, which has since been applied to all their pianos. In 1868 they received a patent for a tubular metallic frame action to take the place of the wooden bars which formerly supported the action, and which were subject to atmospheric influences. It is sustained by hollowed brass tubes filled with wood, which are not affected by the atmosphere.

Patents were granted to Chickering and sons on July 7, 1868, and April 6, 1869, for a combination truss frame and other improvements in the construction of upright pianos, tending to increase their capacity for standing in tune. In 1870 George Steck and co. of New York also received a patent for an improvement in upright pianos, consisting of an iron plate so constructed as to hold all the inner works of the instrument, which are fastened to it before it is put into the case. In 1872 the same firm introduced the small parlor grand piano, which, although only 6 ft. long, is said to surpass the square piano in richness and volume of tone, and to be but little inferior to the full grand piano. Decker brothers and Albert Weber of New York, and Knabe and col of Baltimore, have also made the manufacture of upright pianos a specialty, and large numbers of them are now produced in these two cities and in Boston. On May 14, 1872, a patent was granted to Steinway and sons for an improvement by which is added to the principal scale a second scale of reduced proportional length, between the agraffes and tuning pins, representing a higher octave for each note.

Chickering and sons' latest improvement, the double-bearing agraffe, was patented Dec. 11, 1872. Steinway and sons also received a patent on Oct. 27, 1874, for a tone-sustaining pedal, by which the tones of distinct notes or groups of notes are sustained without interfering with the remaining notes of the scale. No essential improvements in the pianoforte have been made by European manufacturers during the past 30 years. This was proved by the results in the musical department of the Paris exposition of 1867, where the highest honors were awarded to Messrs. Chickering and Steinway, and the decoration of the legion of honor was conferred on Mr. 0. F. Chickering. The United States now far outstrips Europe in the manufacture, and possesses the two largest establishments in the world. Exact statistics of the American piano trade are attainable from the internal revenue returns for several years prior to 1870, when the tax was abolished. The gross amount of sales of new pianos by the 26 most prominent firms in the United States during the year 1869 was $5,253,167, distributed as follows: New York makers (17), $3,104,-783; Boston (6), $1,632,500; Baltimore (3), $315,884. - For further information concerning the history and construction of the pianoforte, see Fischhof's Versuch einer Geschichte des Clavierbaues (8vo, Vienna, 1853); Pole's "Musical Instruments in the Exhibition of 1851 " (London, printed for private circulation); Rimbault's "Pianoforte," etc. (4to, London, 1860); Paul's Geschichte des Klaviers(8vo Leipsic, 1868); Blicthour and Gretschel's Lehr-lucJi des Pianofortebaues (1871); and Brins-meade's " History of the Piano Forte" (London). In respect to performing, tuning, etc, there are various popular manuals.