How many keys do you use on your piano?

Posted by: Schroeder II

How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/17/12 06:48 PM

I just got on this board today so I'm like a kid with a new toy!

Please indulge 1 more possibly dumb question:

I have an 88 key Yamaha digital piano. I upgraded from a 61 key, so I would be more at home on my teacher's instrument during lessons.

That being said, all our music has fallen between the 2 octaves below middle C and the two octaves above. How much music is written for the extreme ends of the keyboard?

I read recently that there are pianos with more than 88 keys. Being as they would be quite rare, how much music is out there that would require such an exotic keyboard arrangement?
Posted by: 4evrBeginR

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/17/12 07:15 PM

I'm learning classical music, and even at my level, I get to use the entire piano, all 7 octaves. You are right though that the 4 octaves in the middle get used a lot more in the beginning.
Posted by: justpin

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/17/12 07:25 PM

Looking at the 100 year old Bechstien I sometimes use (its not mine) the middle three octaves the ivory is so worn you can see the wood nearly under them.

My own CDP the middle octaves around middle C get used A LOT. Although it is not that old the outer octaves have considerably more dust on them.

However since expanding my repetoir which includes a lot of the end octaves its about even.

I also tend to play scales from one end to the other so the end octaves get some use.

I also wonder what pieces sometimes sound in a higher or lower octave as well and have a go like that. Sometimes it works really well, sometimes it sounds horrible.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/17/12 08:00 PM

The music before Beethoven was from F to F, the compass of those instruments. Beethoven's later works made use of Broadwood's six octave pianos and in the 1820's (in time for Chopin and Liszt) Broadwood pushed on to the full seven and a half octaves.

Bösendorfer include a few extras in the bass that can be covered by a wooden flap to avoid regular uses from becoming confused by the new keyboard geography.
Posted by: Whizbang

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/17/12 08:22 PM

All the wrong ones.

At least it feels that way sometimes.

Seriously, I'll use pretty much the entire range with the music I play, and I couldn't play much of my music with just 61 keys.

My understanding is that the pianos with more than 88 keys don't usually directly use the keys directly, but use the additional strings for sympathetic harmonics when the pedal is down.
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/17/12 08:28 PM

about 80 of them
Posted by: slpianoproject

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/18/12 02:01 AM

With the pieces i play i end up using the bottom end alot more than the top end. So lets say 66 keys!
Posted by: sinophilia

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/18/12 07:17 AM

The lowest and highest I've used with the Alfred's method books so far are G1 and D7, respectively, so that makes 74 keys smile
Posted by: Derulux

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/18/12 01:04 PM

I have used all 88. If you play a solo arrangement of the Grieg Am concerto, the very first note in the introduction gets down to the bottom A. If you play the recapitulation of the main theme at the end of Rachmaninoff's 3rd piano concerto, you'll get up to the top C. Those are the two that I can think of off the top of my head that did it for me.

However, I know there are many others.. I remember discussing the top end of the keyboard in another thread, and quite a few pieces were mentioned.
Posted by: outo

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/18/12 03:12 PM

As far as I can remember I have used 68 keys in the pieces I have played, from G to D. But I do scales all the way, so the rest are not completely neglected. I don't want them to get stuck smile
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/18/12 03:47 PM

I use all 88 of them, just not in one piece usually.
Posted by: 4evrBeginR

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/19/12 03:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Schroeder II
I read recently that there are pianos with more than 88 keys. Being as they would be quite rare, how much music is out there that would require such an exotic keyboard arrangement?


At the dealer that I got my Yamaha, they have a piano with 92 keys, and it's a beautiful piano, and I've gone back several times to play that $129,000 work of art. I am not sure those 3 extra keys in the bass is the reason why the piano sound so great. I'm pretty sure the piano would have been great even without them. I think perhaps it's more a bragging rights kind of thing than anything else, and by the way, when I played those notes, they sound kind of like a dull thud, totally not like you're hearing clear fundamentals. The piano, even at over 7-foot long, just isn't long enough for those bass notes.

I read a few composers including Debussy wrote some music for these pianos, but I think the most practical purpose of having extra notes is to create a richer resonance with the sustain pedal.
Posted by: ju5t1n-h

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/19/12 10:42 AM

Prokofiev - Toccata op.2 uses the bottom key on the piano if my memory serves me right?

and then there is Gyorgy Ligeti's "The Devil's Staircase" .... if my memory serves me really right, im sure it uses every key in that one piece
Posted by: Schroeder II

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/19/12 12:38 PM

I think at my level of play I would be absolutely terrified to play a $192,000 piano!
Be great story though.
Posted by: justpin

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/19/12 04:47 PM

See this post:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1980886/Piano%20curse?.html#Post1980886


I have no idea what the value of this Bechstein happens to be, but its a double edge sword.......
Posted by: Plowboy

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/20/12 02:11 PM

G Major mostly. g minor, Eb Major and c minor get played a lot also. Not sure why these three keys are so popular, but that's the way it is.
Posted by: contrapiano

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/20/12 03:01 PM

I never play the top octave or bottom half octave.
Posted by: Farmerjones

Re: How many keys do you use on your piano? - 11/20/12 04:59 PM

The bottom oct gets a bit muddy, but i can see how on an accoustic piano, the more strings, lends itself to more sympathetic overtones. Definately glad to have all 88.