Starting in Beethoven’s later career, the fortepiano evolved into the modern piano as we know it today. Modern pianos were in wide use by the late 19th century. They featured an octave range larger than the earlier fortepiano instrument, adding around 30 more keys to the instrument. The mechanical action structure of the upright piano was invented in London, England in 1826 by Robert Wornum, and upright models became the most popular model, also amplifying the sound. Mass production in factories made them more affordable for a larger number of people. They appeared in music halls and pubs during the 19th century, providing entertainment through a piano soloist, or in combination with a small band. Pianists began accompanying singers or dancers performing on stage, or patrons dancing on a dance floor.
During the 19th century, American musicians playing for working-class audiences in small pubs and bars, particularly African-Americancomposers, developed new musical genres based on the modern piano. Ragtime music, popularized by composers such as Scott Joplin, reached a broader audience by 1900. The popularity of ragtime music was quickly succeeded by Jazz piano. New techniques and rhythms were invented for the piano, including ostinato for boogie woogie, and Shearing voicing. George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue broke new musical ground by combining American jazz piano with symphonic sounds. Comping, a technique for accompanying jazz vocalists on piano, was exemplified by Duke Ellington’s technique. Honky tonk music, featuring yet another style of piano rhythm, became popular during the same era. Bebop techniques grew out of jazz, with leading composers such as Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. In the late 20th century,Bill Evans composed pieces combining classical techniques with his jazz experimentations. Herbie Hancock was one of the first jazz pianists to find mainstream popularity working with newer urban music techniques.
Pianos have also been used in rock and roll by entertainers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Elton John, Billy Joel, and Tori Amos, to name just a few.
Modernist styles of music have also appealed to composers writing for the modern grand piano, including John Cage and Philip Glass.
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