“It’s all in black and white” – and every colour in between…

A post for World Piano Day 2022 on why we LOVE the piano – a compilation of comments received via Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you to everyone who contributed

It’s complete. Since I was a child it’s been the place I go to relax. I’m not a pianist but I can play and it makes me extremely happy. During the first lockdown singing made me sad for all we were missing (especially my co-musicians). I found solace at the piano. (CS, singer)

The colours produced by harmonies in even the simplest pieces. I was teaching a piece from a tutor book to young beginners this week and as soon as they added the LH to produce 3 and 4 note chords something magical happened. (MJ)

The touch of the keys, the sound, the huge variation in textures, the colour of the wood, the space where it sits…..and the fact the whole family have access to it! (RN)

The ability to thunder away one minute then tug at your heart the next with soft, quiet subtlety (T)

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The possibilities I have to play like a whole orchestra, but also very simplistic and moving melodies. The dynamics and the tone forming. Being a one (wo)man player or a chamber musician, working with a singer or giant orchestra… so many things to love about my piano. (FK)

you can see what you’re doing… (TC, composer)

The combination of intuition and control. (EMcK)

You never have to bring it with you. Wherever you go, it’s there. If it isn’t there, you’re in the wrong place. (RN)

Not having to get it out of a box (HW, composer & pianist)

Duration and decay (Kirkdale Bookshop)

A musical instrument and dinner table! (A)

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I like the fact it’s (often) a place as well as an instrument. The room gathers memories, which enrich the music making. I like how you can see all the notes physically even when silent. But most of all I love the sound. Just playing a big C major arpeggio is, to me, a joy. (JD)

It’s mindfulness, it’s meditation, it’s calm. And when headphones are involved it provides a much needed solitude, as I escape into its world. As I mainly improvise, it’s a crafting table, that gives life to new music. I love the tactile connection. The piano is home. (JW)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: the sound of a singing treble with the sostenuto pedal, the richness of full chords and the power one feels as they sound, the immense satisfaction of feeling & hearing the clangourous sounds… and so much more! My beloved instrument. (BC)

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The amount of opportunity it has to offer, the range and the versatility (ID)

I love the feel of the keys! They are my friends! (BO’R)

…as a medium, the piano is its own self sufficient universe. I don’t think any other solo artistic activity can boast the same level of storytelling or emotional exploration as well as refined pianism does (ES)

The variety of tone colours at your disposal, ability with sustain pedal to play so many notes at once, you almost have the whole orchestra in front of you. As a child I was mesmerised by being able to ‘see’ all the notes at once and wonder about their possibilities, I loved exploring and finding the scales by ear by noting the order of keys and shapes and patterns your hand made, the similarities and differences. (RR)

Liszt’s Bosendorfer piano at the Franz Liszt Museum in Budapest

Underneath a grand piano there are all sorts of secret hiding places for valuables (watches, jewellery, money, etc). No other instrument offers this possibility. Imagine trying to stuff a Rolex inside a piccolo or viola? That’s what I love about the piano. I also love the fact that the notes are all there- all you need to do is play them in the right order (takes a bit of skill grant you). A more serious answer – the piano is a glorious instrument of ‘make believe’. It forces the imagination into overdrive – we ‘think’ we’re hearing something which is not happening. Its defects are, paradoxically its virtues.  (JH)

The ability to use so many of one’s senses. I like the fairness factor of piano: you put in a hard work, you get the results. You don’t, it shows too. In life it is not always as fair as that. (JM)

The SOUND. I just bloody love the sound of the thing. Why would anybody want to play another instrument?! (MV)

All of the little tiny parts of the action like a bird skeleton, with their daft names (DG)

The immediate visual appeal it has without even being played; the fact that a mechanical machine that needs no electricity is capable of (in competent hands) making music that elicits emotions in such a profound way. There is nothing as deliciously decadent as a dusty, old upright sitting in a forgotten corner, waiting to be played. And the majestic presence of a grand that is always begging to give all its rich harmonies. The piano can be the best friend and the worst enemy because it seduces you but enslaves you as you try to get more and more depth and richness from it. The piano reveals one’s inner struggles like no other instrument does (MAdB)

The sense of freedom from the world when playing it (JK)

Every time you play at a concert you will meet a new instrument. I love the whole experience of getting to know the instrument and trying to get the best out of it. They are all so unique and it can be so rewarding (WH)

Someone recently asked me “what do you like to play”? Usually people just ask “what do you play.” It was a reminder for me to never forget the “like” and “love” origins of my work, especially during difficult practice days or performances that don’t quite go to plan. (SE)

a deep connection with musicians of the past and the now makes the piano and piano music so life-affirming (AH)