Cristofori Doodle

Today’s Google Doodle is of Bartolomeo Cristofori, who more or less invented the piano.

It’s rare to see anything music-related as a Google Doodle (though there was a lovely tribute to Debussy in 2013). This is a particularly Googly one, though, as Cristofori’s triumph was an engineering one: keyboard instruments with hammer mechanisms had existed before his, but they weren’t loud enough for large halls, and the keyboard instruments that were loud enough had little or no dynamic control. Cristofori’s mechanism combined the hall-filling acoustics of the harpsichord with the dynamic flexibility of smaller instruments like the clavichord.

Once he’d solved the engineering problem, his basic concept for the pianoforte spread across the world in a generation.