While the acoustic piano has been one of the most popular instruments for the past 300 hundred years, improvements in technology has allowed their digital counterparts to become just as popular.
More compact and affordable, digital pianos are a great entry-point for anyone looking to learn to the instrument, and they come with a slew of features that enhance the playing experience.
However, when learning to use a digital piano, there’s a fair amount of terminology you will need to learn to help you come to grips with the various features available, and it can be a good idea to do some homework before purchasing one!
Knowing these terms should help you better understand the various aspects of a digital piano and whether it is a suitable investment.
List Piano Terminology
|Action – the mechanism that transfers the motion of the keys to the hammers that strike the strings.
|Double flat – a symbol that lowers a note by two half steps.
|Double sharp – a symbol that raises a note by two half steps.
|Dynamics – the volume of sound in music.
|Forte – loud.
|Grace note – a note played quickly before a main note.
|Hammer – the part of the piano’s action that strikes the strings.
|Harmony – the combination of different notes played together.
|Key – the part of the piano that is pressed down by the pianist’s fingers to produce a sound.
|Key signature – the symbols that indicate which notes are to be played sharp or flat throughout a piece of music.
|Legato – playing smoothly and connected.
|A440 – the standard pitch for the note A above middle C, which vibrates at a frequency of 440 Hz.
|Major chord – a chord consisting of a root note, a major third, and a perfect fifth.
|Metronome – a device that produces a regular pulse or beat to help the pianist keep time.
|Middle C – the note C in the middle of the piano keyboard.
|Minor chord – a chord consisting of a root note, a minor third, and a perfect fifth.
|Octave – the distance between two notes that have the same letter name, but one is higher or lower than the other.
|Pedal – a foot-operated lever that controls various parts of the piano’s mechanism.
|Phrase – a musical sentence or idea.
|Pitch – the perceived highness or lowness of a sound.
|Quarter note – a note that lasts for one quarter of a whole note.
|Arpeggio – a broken chord where the notes are played one at a time in a sequence.
|Rest – a symbol that indicates a silence in the music.
|Scale – a series of notes played in ascending or descending order.
|Sharp – a symbol that raises a note by one half step.
|Staccato – playing short, detached notes.
|Staff – the five horizontal lines on which music is written.
|Tempo – the speed at which a piece of music is played.
|Tie – a curved line that connects two notes of the same pitch, indicating that they should be played as one longer note.
|Time signature – the symbols that indicate the number of beats per measure and the type of note that receives one beat.
|Treble clef – the clef used to notate higher pitches, usually played by the right hand on the piano.
|Triad – a three-note chord consisting of a root note, a third, and a fifth.
|Bass clef – the clef used to notate lower pitches, usually played by the left hand on the piano.
|Vibrato – a slight variation in pitch to enhance the expressiveness of a note.
|Accent – to emphasize a note by playing it louder or with more force.
|Adagio – a slow and leisurely tempo.
|Allegro – a fast and lively tempo.
|Arpeggiator – a device or feature on a synthesizer or digital piano that automatically plays arpeggios.
|Articulation – the way in which notes are played and connected, such as legato or staccato.
|Attack – the initial sound produced by striking a key.
|Ballad – a slow and romantic song, often played on the piano.
|Bar – a vertical line in the staff that divides the music into measures.
|Broken chord – a chord whose notes are played one at a time instead of simultaneously.
|Chord – two or more notes played together.
|Coda – a concluding section of a piece of music.
|D.C. al fine – an instruction in sheet music to repeat from the beginning and play until the word “fine,” which means “end.”
|Diminuendo – gradually getting softer.
|Enharmonic – notes that have different names but the same pitch, such as C# and Db.
|Expression pedal – a pedal on some pianos and synthesizers that allows the player to vary the volume or other aspects of the sound.
|Fermata – a symbol that indicates a note should be held longer than its written value.
|Flat – a symbol that lowers a note by one half step.
|Glissando – a rapid slide from one note to another.
|Grand piano – a large acoustic piano with a horizontal soundboard and strings.
|Half step – the smallest interval between two adjacent notes on the piano.
|Chromatic scale – a scale that includes all twelve pitches in an octave, including the black keys.
|Improvisation – creating and playing music spontaneously, without a predetermined plan.
|Keybed – the surface on which the keys of a piano or keyboard rest.
|Largo – a very slow and broad tempo.
|Luthier – a craftsman who makes or repairs stringed instruments.
|Mallets – small hammers used to strike the strings of a piano, often on a prepared piano.
|Mezzo forte – moderately loud.
|Natural – a symbol that cancels a previous sharp or flat and restores the note to its natural state.
|Notation – the system of symbols used to write down music.
|Orchestration – the art of arranging music for an orchestra or other ensemble.
|Overtones – the harmonics that accompany a fundamental note and give it its characteristic tone color.
|Damper pedal – a pedal on the piano that lifts all the dampers from the strings, allowing them to vibrate freely.
|Pianissimo – very soft.
|Polyrhythm – the simultaneous use of two or more different rhythms.
|Prepared piano – a piano that has had its sound altered by the addition of various objects placed on or between the strings.
|Recital – a solo performance by a musician.
|Rhythm – the arrangement of sounds and silences in time.
|Sostenuto pedal – a pedal on some pianos that sustains only the notes that are being held down when the pedal is depressed.
|Syncopation – an accent on a weak beat or offbeat.
|Tremolo – a rapid repetition of a note or chord.
|Unison – the sounding of two or more notes at the same pitch.