The ‘Hang’ is a new musical instrument which was developed in the year 2000 by 2 Swiss instrument makers (PanArt, Bern), who originally built steel drums. Its convex body consists of special hardened steel, on top of the hang there is a central domed note (called ‘Ding’) surrounded by a circle of either 7 or 8 tone fields. The lower half shell has a round resonant opening (called ‘Gu’).
The hang is primarily played with the fingers and hands, this helped to give the instrument its name: ‘Hang’ in the Bernese dialect means ‘hand’.
Peter’s first ‘encounter’ with the Hang was in 2005 in Parc Güell in Barcelona, where an Italian street musician played this (UFO-like) instrument. After that he was eager to find out how to get this instrument himself; he plays the hang since 2006.
Bartolommeo Cristofori, a Paduan harpsichord maker, is credited with constructing the first piano, the date usually put at between 1709 and 1711. He called his new instrument "gravicembalo col piano e forte", or "harpsichord with soft and loud". In shape and general construction it resembled a harpsichord, but it differed in its action mechanism. Deer leather hammersstruck the strings, and a primitive escapement or "set off" was employed, enabling the hammer to escape from the string, rather than to block on it, thereby smothering the vibrations the hammer itself had originated.
It was Sabastien Erard who produced the solution in his Repetition Actions of 1808 and 1821. Erards double escapement action of 1821. Retaining the layout of the English action, he added springs and levers, or double escapement, inducing the hammer to rebound to a point closer to the strings, remaining there until the finger either released the key completely or drove the hammer against the string a second time. Speed of repetition was improved as for a repeat blow the hammer moved only half the initial distance, and the key did not need to rise as far before again descending. The formidable array of levers and springs proved too complicated, but with later modifications, most significantly simplifications by Herz, a Parisian composer-pianist-pianomaker, it had by 1860 been taken up in one form or another by most makers, and remains the basis of the grand action to the present day.
In the middle decades of the century American makers made their contribution. In the 1840's Chickering produced the earliest one-piece cast iron frame for a grand, although it was his rivals, the Steinways in New York, who took the last major steps in the development of the grand. Overstringing was the ultimate solution for the layout of the strings. Initially they all had been parallel. Then in an endeavour to make the bass strings longer without a corresponding lengthening of the upright instrument's case, the strings, bass, tenor and to a lesser degree treble, were arranged obliquely, almost fan-like across the instrument. The final answer was overstringing, tenor and treble strings running approximately parallel to the instrument's outer case, but with bass strings crossing over them, running from the front left to rear right of a grand.
Then in the 1870's Theodore Steinway increased the string tension to its present figure of about 20,000kg (c.20 tons). Strings were again dealt harder blows by heavier hammers. Then the double escapement action was further modified, to make the touch weight acceptable. The grand offered abundant tonal volume combined with incredible sensibility.
Besides playing on the keys, performers can also use other parts of the piano to make music. On this cd you will hear many of those relatively new sounds.