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Theory and Practice of Piano Construction With a Detailed, Practical Method for Tuning

Theory and Practice of Piano Construction
With a Detailed, Practical Method for Tuning
Category: Piano / Construction / Tuning
Title: Theory and Practice of Piano Construction With a Detailed, Practical Method for Tuning
Release Date: 2018-06-18
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 52
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Transcriber’s Note:

The original contains inconsistent hyphenation; this has been preserved. Obvious printer’s errors have been corrected; a full list is available at the end of this book.

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


William B. White

Theory and Practice of

With a Detailed, Practical
Method for Tuning

Dover Publications, Inc.
New York


Published in Canada by General Publishing Company, Ltd., 30 Lesmill Road, Don Mills, Toronto, Ontario.

Published in the United Kingdom by Constable and Company, Ltd., 10 Orange Street, London WC 2.

This Dover edition, first published in 1975, is an unabridged and unaltered republication of the work originally published by Edward Lyman Bill, Publisher, New York, in 1906 under the title Theory and Practice of Pianoforte Building.

International Standard Book Number: 0-486-23139-9
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 74-78811

Manufactured in the United States of America
Dover Publications, Inc.
180 Varick Street
New York, N.Y. 10014



For many years we have been receiving at the office of The Music TradeReview constant inquiries for sources from which information might begleaned regarding the theory and practice of tone production as appliedto the piano. It has therefore been obvious to all who have given thissubject the slightest consideration that there has been a lack of bookinformation which should be at the hand of the student and the seekerof knowledge regarding scale draughting and other essentials relatingto piano construction. Some years ago, after careful consideration ofthis subject, special topics along these lines were assigned to theauthor of this work, who was well fitted for the task before him, andas a result of more than two years of conscientious study and research,the “Theory and Practice of Pianoforte Building” is put forth asrepresenting in a concrete form a work of technical knowledge whichhitherto has been unobtainable to the student.

The necessity of acquiring some knowledge of the principles ofmechanics before proceeding to the study of scale design is admitted.Such knowledge, together with that of the principles of the acousticsas they apply to musical sounds produced by vibrating strings,is essential to a correct understanding of the fundamental ideasunderlying true pianoforte design.

To know a piano accurately one must understand the laws governing tonequality, and how the propagation and transmission of sound is producedas well as the pitch and intensity of sound. And there are thousandsof men to-day in the various factories who are anxious to obtainsources of information from which to gain a more correct knowledge of aprofession which should take high rank among industrial pursuits.


Owing to the gradual changes which have been wrought in all industriesthrough the abandonment of the apprentice system, there is more needfor instruction books than ever before.

A factory operative, according to the present plan, may know thoroughlybut one department of the business, but he can become more usefulto himself and his employers when he possesses a knowledge of allbranches. In the piano trade particularly there must be a correctknowledge of piano building, else there can be no advance, and withour old piano makers rapidly passing away there is need for a healthyschool of new inventors, so that wherever possible, improvements maybe made and defects remedied. These can only be accomplished by thepossession of a knowledge of all the intricate principles involved inpiano making.

We feel that in presenting a work of this kind we are offering avolume which will meet with the approval of those who seek knowledge,for while there are great trade and technical schools which are thefountains of inspiration for various trades, the science of pianomaking is not included as a branch in any of them. It is thereforeevident that knowledge must be gained outside, for piano schools thereare none. To every mind seeking information there should be knowledgegiven, and we believe that a work of this kind must be of value to anindustry wherein there is such a dearth of reliable text books.

It will be seen by examination that all of the practical problems whichare to be considered by the scale draughtsmen have been fairly treatedin this volume and yet the desire of the author has been throughout toavoid tiresome details. Condensation is one of the recognized laws ofour day, and in producing this technical work the author has laboredto create a volume of convenient size which shall be of service tothe student, and to the advanced thinker as well, on account of theaccuracy with which the subjects are treated.

This book is not in the remotest sense a history of piano buildingor development, and it should not be so considered; in fact it hasbeen deemed wise to dip into historical matters only to the7extent ofshowing the application of an enduring principle rather than to givecredit to a number of deserving inventors who have worked along speciallines. A treatment of worthy inventions would require a much largervolume than this; and while there are many inventors who have given tothe world special devices of value, it has not been considered timelyto describe them in this volume or to enter into an exposé of theirmerits or demerits. We may say that this is not a critical work butrather one which we trust may be eminently practical in its mission asan instructive and an educational force.

We may add in closing that the “Theory and Practice of PianoforteBuilding” is the only work of its kind ever put forth in the Englishlanguage, and we have every confidence that it will find a growingdemand among music trade people everywhere.


Editorial Rooms,
The Music Trade Review,

New York, May, 1906.





The development of the modern American pianoforte presents a mostinteresting study to the practical member of the musical industriesas well as to the pianist. For it is possible to view the subjectwith equal facility from the standpoints of both. Descended through aclearly defined line of ancestry from the ancient psaltery, and showingtraces of the various steps

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