The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also popular as a tool for composing and rehearsal. Although not portable and often expensive, the piano’s versatility and ubiquity have made it one of the world’s most familiar musical instruments.
The word piano is a shortened form of pianoforte (PF), the Italian word for the instrument (which in turn derives from the previous terms gravicembalo col piano e forte and fortepiano). The musical terms piano and forte mean “quiet” and “loud”, respectively, and in this context refer to variations in loudness the instrument produces in response to a pianist’s touch on the keys: the greater the velocity of a key press, the greater the force of the hammer hitting the string(s), and the louder the note produced.