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Piano vs. Harpsichord: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sara Rehman || Published on December 27, 2023
The piano, capable of varying dynamics, produces sound by hammers hitting strings, while the harpsichord, with constant volume, plucks strings.

Key Differences

The piano strikes strings with hammers, allowing dynamic control, whereas the harpsichord plucks strings with a plectrum, creating a consistent volume.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023
Pianos can play soft (piano) and loud (forte) notes, giving them dynamic range; harpsichords lack this ability, having a uniform sound level.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023
The piano, evolving from the harpsichord, gained popularity in the 18th century, while the harpsichord was prominent in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 27, 2023
Pianos are central to classical and modern music, adaptable across genres; harpsichords are synonymous with Baroque music, offering a distinct timbre.
Harlon Moss
Dec 27, 2023
Pianos are larger, with a more complex action mechanism for dynamic expression; harpsichords are more streamlined, with a simpler mechanism for string plucking.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Sound Production

Hammers strike strings
Plectrums pluck strings
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

Volume Control

Capable of soft and loud dynamics
Consistent volume, no dynamics
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

Historical Peak

18th century onwards
16th and 17th centuries
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

Musical Flexibility

Versatile across genres
Primarily used in Baroque music
Janet White
Dec 27, 2023

Mechanism Complexity

Complex with dampers and pedals
Simpler mechanism, no dampers or pedals
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023
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Piano and Harpsichord Definitions

Piano

An instrument capable of a wide range of dynamics and expressions.
His emotional performance on the piano left the audience in awe.
Sara Rehman
Dec 01, 2023

Harpsichord

Often used in Baroque and Renaissance music.
He specialized in harpsichord compositions from the Renaissance era.
Janet White
Dec 01, 2023

Piano

A central instrument in Western classical music.
The piano solo highlighted the orchestra's performance.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 01, 2023

Harpsichord

A keyboard instrument where strings are plucked.
The harpsichord's distinctive sound enlivened the Baroque piece.
Sara Rehman
Dec 01, 2023

Piano

A large musical instrument with a row of black and white keys.
The concert hall echoed with the sound of the grand piano.
Sara Rehman
Dec 01, 2023

Harpsichord

An instrument with a constant volume, lacking dynamics.
Baroque composers wrote complex melodies for the harpsichord.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 01, 2023

Piano

An acoustic instrument with 88 keys typically.
She practiced daily to master her piano scales.
Sara Rehman
Dec 01, 2023

Harpsichord

A predecessor to the modern piano, popular in the 16th-17th centuries.
The museum displayed a beautifully ornamented harpsichord.
Sara Rehman
Dec 01, 2023

Piano

A keyboard instrument with hammers striking strings.
She composed a beautiful melody on the piano.
Sara Rehman
Dec 01, 2023

Harpsichord

Characterized by its bright, crisp sound.
The harpsichord solo added an antique flavor to the music.
Sara Rehman
Dec 01, 2023

FAQs

Can a piano play dynamics?

Yes, it can play both soft and loud notes.
Harlon Moss
Dec 27, 2023

How does a harpsichord produce sound?

By plectrums plucking strings when keys are pressed.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

When was the piano invented?

Early 18th century.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

What's the range of a typical harpsichord?

Usually around five octaves.
Harlon Moss
Dec 27, 2023

What is a piano?

A stringed keyboard instrument where hammers strike the strings.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

How does a piano produce sound?

By hammers hitting strings when keys are pressed.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

Can a harpsichord play dynamics?

No, it produces a constant sound level.
Harlon Moss
Dec 27, 2023

What genres use the harpsichord?

Mainly Baroque and Renaissance music.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

Is the piano larger than the harpsichord?

Generally, yes.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

Do pianos have pedals?

Yes, for sustaining and softening notes.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

What is a harpsichord?

A keyboard instrument where strings are plucked, producing a consistent volume.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 27, 2023

What's the range of a typical piano?

88 keys, spanning over seven octaves.
Janet White
Dec 27, 2023

Is the harpsichord still used today?

Primarily in historical or period music contexts.
Janet White
Dec 27, 2023

When was the harpsichord popular?

16th and 17th centuries.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

Do harpsichords have pedals?

No, they lack pedals.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 27, 2023

What genres use the piano?

Classical, jazz, pop, and more.
Sara Rehman
Dec 27, 2023

Can a piano mimic a harpsichord sound?

To some extent, with specific techniques or settings.
Harlon Moss
Dec 27, 2023

Is learning piano different from learning harpsichord?

Yes, due to their differing mechanisms and sound production.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 27, 2023

Who are famous piano composers?

Beethoven, Chopin, and Mozart.
Janet White
Dec 27, 2023

Who are famous harpsichord composers?

Bach, Scarlatti, and Handel.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 27, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sara Rehman
Sara Rehman is a seasoned writer and editor with extensive experience at Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Information Technology, she combines her academic prowess with her passion for writing to deliver insightful and well-researched content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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