Why is it called a Piano? A Fun Exploration


Have you ever wondered why the beloved musical instrument, the piano, got its name? It’s a question that has puzzled many music enthusiasts over the years. But worry not, dear reader! We’re here to provide you with a fun exploration of this musical mystery.

The Origins of the Piano

First things first, let’s get a bit of history on the piano. The modern piano we know today was developed in Italy in the early 1700s by a man named Bartolomeo Cristofori. He was an accomplished harpsichord maker and set out to create an instrument that could produce a wider range of dynamics and expressiveness than the harpsichord.

The instrument Cristofori created was initially called the pianoforte, which was shortened to just piano over time. But why was it called the pianoforte in the first place? Let’s take a closer look.

The Name: Pianoforte

The name pianoforte comes from the Italian words “piano” meaning soft and “forte” meaning loud. This is because the instrument had the ability to play both soft and loud notes, unlike the harpsichord which could only play at one volume level.

But why use Italian words to name the instrument? At the time, Italian was the language of music, and many musical terms and expressions were in Italian. The tradition of using Italian in music continues to this day, with terms like allegro, adagio, and crescendo still being used in sheet music and music theory.

The Evolution of the Name

Over time, the pianoforte’s name was shortened to just piano, as it is known today. This change likely occurred because of the difficulty of pronouncing the full name, especially in languages other than Italian.

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Interestingly, in some languages, the name for the piano is derived from other words that highlight its unique features. In French, for example, the instrument is called “piano à queue,” which means “soft at the tail” in reference to the way the sound resonates from the back of the instrument.


In conclusion, the piano is called a piano because it was initially named the pianoforte, which comes from the Italian words for soft and loud. The name was later shortened to piano for simplicity, but other languages have their own unique names for the instrument that reflect its special features.

So, the next time you sit down at a piano, you can impress your friends with your knowledge of its origins and name. And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to write your own piano piece, and you can name it whatever you like!


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