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Archive-name: music/piano/general-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 17 Oct 1997
Version: 1.7b

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
This is the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list for the

This FAQ list is intended to present general topics
frequently addressed in  It is posted
every month.  Updates, additions, suggestions and corrections
are always welcome: send e-mail to the address at the end of
this FAQ.  However, it has become increasingly difficult to keep
up with the demand, so response, if any, may be very delayed.

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it by sending e-mail to with the
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   SEND usenet/news.answers/music/piano/general-faq

You also have access to rmmp FAQs on WWW:


changes from version 1.7a
  update RMMP FAQ web address

Rec.Music.Makers.Piano General Topics FAQ

You may run a search using the pattern [#.#] where "#.#" is
the topic number.


[1] About
  [1.1] What is
  [1.2] Who reads this group?
  [1.3] What kind of topics are discussed in RMMP?
  [1.4] FAQ lists maintained by this newsgroup

[2] On Piano Playing
  [2.1] Am I too old to start learning how to play piano?
  [2.2] How do you improve sight-reading?
  [2.3] Playing from memory?
  [2.4] Ouch!  My arm hurts!!
      [2.4.1] Repetitive stress injuries
      [2.4.2] What's a carpal tunnel syndrome?
  [2.5] Is practicing scales, arpeggios, exercises, etc. useful?
  [2.6] 101 ways to play Hanon exercises

[3] Teaching! What about teaching piano playing?
  [3.1] Checklist for transfer or new students

[4] Digital Pianos

[5] Player Pianos
  [5.1] How old are they?
  [5.2] What are their values today?
  [5.3] Definitions of parts
  [5.4] How do they work?
  [5.5] Restoring player pianos?
  [5.6] Books on player restoration
  [5.7] Where can I get Player piano parts?
  [5.8] Where can I get new and used music rolls?
  [5.9] Any player piano associations?
  [5.10] Mailing list?

[6] Harpsichords
  [6.1] Where can I purchase a harpsichord?
  [6.2] Harpsichord mailing list

[7] How Do I Represent Notes Using "Text" Characters?
  [7.1] The "General" notation method
  [7.2] The "Piano Technician" notation method
  [7.3] The "MIDI file" notation method
  [7.4] On sharps and flats

[8] Miscellaneous, Random Tidbits
  [8.1] What books discuss the piano literature?
  [8.2] Interval nomenclatures?
  [8.3] Octave spans of various pianos and harpsichords
      [8.3.1] Harpsichord octave spans
      [8.3.2] Piano octave spans
  [8.5] What's a standard height of a piano keyboard?
  [8.6] Klavarscribo?
  [8.7] Printing staff lines using postscript codes?

[9] On Copyright Laws
  [9.1] Where do I get the information on copyright laws?
  [9.2] Copyright Status
  [9.3] Duration of Copyright Status
  [9.4] International Protection
  [9.5] Derivative Works and Editions
  [9.6] Fair Use

[10] Books and Magazines on Pianos
   [10.1] Magazines on pianos
   [10.2] Random recommended readings on piano playing
   [10.3] Some books on jazz playing
   [10.4] What books discuss the piano literature?
   [10.5] Random miscellaneous reference books

[11] Other Mail Order Companies
   [11.1] Music score companies
   [11.2] Digital Piano Mail-Order
   [11.3] Specialized recordings

[12] Other Sources of Information
   [12.1] RMMP Piano Internet Resources List
   [12.2] Piano Technicians Guild


[1] About

[1.1] What is (RMMP) is an unmoderated newsgroup
created February 1994, initiated by Tim MacEachern as a
newsgroup dedicated for discussions related to pianos.  The
group's initial intention was to pull together amateurs and
professionals interested in piano playing or maintenance
without creating prejudice as to whether they play in the
classical, folk, jazz, popular or other musical styles.

[1.2] Who reads this group?

The newsgroup subscribers range from beginning piano students
and people thinking about starting to professional players
and teachers; professional piano technicians to casual do-it-
yourselfers -- all share a common interest in the piano.

[1.3] What kind of topics are discussed in RMMP? is an international forum for the
dissemination of information and discussion of all topics
related to pianos, piano playing, piano study and piano
music.  Articles posted include, but not necessarily be
limited to topics such as:

   - makes and models of pianos
   - piano tuning
   - mechanics and maintenance of pianos
   - techniques used in playing the piano
   - the technical or artistic merit of pieces
   - techniques applicable to different musical styles:
     classical, folk, jazz, etc.
   - difficulty of mastery of pieces
   - creating electronic accompaniment to piano playing
   - non-acoustic piano-like instruments: digital pianos,
     electric pianos, etc.
   - composing music for piano
   - compositions with a major piano component,
     e.g. piano concertos or piano/violin sonatas
   - teaching styles and techniques

[1.4] FAQ lists maintained by this newsgroup

There are currently three official and three draft FAQ lists
maintained by RMMP:

   General Topics FAQ                   (general-faq)
   Playing From Memory FAQ              (memory-playing-faq)
   Piano Maintenance and Purchasing FAQ (maint-and-buy-faq)
   Digital Pianos FAQ                   (digital-pianos-faq)
   Digital Pianos Hardware List         (digital-pianos-list)
   Piano Internet Resources List        (internet-resources)

All official RMMP FAQ lists can be retrieved from via anonymous FTP under the directory:


If you do not have access to anonymous FTP, you can get a
copy by sending e-mail to with the
message (leave the subject line blank, and replace the "*"
with the name written within the parenthesis above):

   SEND usenet/news.answers/music/piano/*

You also have access to RMMP FAQs on WWW.  Here, both the
official and draft documents are available:


[2] On Piano Playing

[2.1] Am I too old to start learning how to play piano?

The answer to this question is an emphatic "No! One is never
too old to start!"  All you need is love of music, love of
the piano, interest, perseverance and enthusiasm!! (well...
and an access to a keyboard of some sort)  As an "older"
student, you actually may have the advantage of quicker
understanding of the concepts, and better motivation since
you know why you want to play.  Also since you are the one
initiating the learning process, you have a better chance of
succeeding in your goals of becoming a piano player (some
kids just start playing because their "parents told them so,"
and that won't get them too far in the long run).

Piano playing does wonderful things to the human mind and
body.  There have been reports where an 80 year old person
started to learn to play the piano, and in so doing, improved
his motor skills, mental agility and overall well-being, and
went ahead and became an excellent player!  So don't let
those 5-year-old seemingly prodigious kids discourage you!
Just go ahead and start learning!

[2.2] How do you improve sight-reading?

*** still under construction :-)  ***

[2.3] Playing from memory?

Please read "Playing from Memory FAQ" available from
anonymous ftp at under


...or whatever similar method you used to get hold of this
"RMMP General Topics FAQ".

[2.4] Ouch!  My arm hurts!!

[2.4.1] Repetitive stress injuries

Concurrent with the increased use of computer keyboards and
mice in the work world at large, there is an increasing
incidence of computer related repetitive stress injuries
(RSI).  Such an injury can interfere with piano playing or
even render it impossible.  Because of this possibility, here
we introduce some sources of information available on the
Internet and beyond, containing information on the nature,
causes, prevention and treatment of RSIs.

The Typing Injury FAQ.
   Available periodically from newsgroups, news.answers,,
   comp.human-factors, and via anonymous ftp from the
   newsgroup archives at in directory
   A five-part document, Part 5 of which contains copious
   references to other information sources.

SOREHAND listserv
   RSI discussions by victims and therapy practitioners.
   To subscribe, send a message to
   containing as the text SUBSRIBE SOREHAND your name., under directory pub/typing-injury/
   An extensive anonymous ftp resource.

   Emil Pascarelli, "Repetitive Stress Injury: A Computer
   Users Guide," John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994.

   Gyorgy Sandor, "On Piano Playing," Schirmer Books -
   A division of Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1981.

Richard Norris, M.D. publications
   Dr. Norris is the Director of the National Arts Medicine
   Center & Center for Repetitive Motion Disorders at the
   National Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethesda, Md.

   "The Musician's Survival Manual: a guide to preventing and
   treating injuries in instrumentalists," 1993,
   International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians.
   ISBN 0-918812-74-7  $16.95.

   This book describes types of injuries, and how to
   recognize, treat and prevent them.  Other topics covered
   are therapeutic exercises and returning to playing after
   an injury.  A list of performing arts clinics is given in
   an appendix.

     The book can be ordered from:
     MMB Music Inc.
     Tel: 314 531-9635
          800 543-3771 (USA/Canada)

   For people who are unable to locate a proper source of
   treatment Dr. Norris has also created a VHS tape titled
   "Treatment Options for Repetitive Motion Disorders",
   available for $65 directly from him at

     National Rehabilitation Hospital
     3 Bethesda Metro Ctr. Suite 950
     Bethesda, MD 20814
     (301) 654-9160

[2.4.2] What's a carpal tunnel syndrome?

Here's an excerpt from "The Complete Canadian Health Guide":

"...Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is an easily treatable wrist
and hand disorder, more frequent in women than in men.  The
problem arises through compression of the median (arm) nerve
in its narrow passageway through the wrist, often starts up
in mid-life to old age and generally affects both hands, the
dominant (most-used) more severely.  CTS can arise from
certain jobs or hobbies where repeated movements or
vibrations inflame the wrist tissues - for instance,
knitting, computer keyboard work, driving or operating
certain  hand held tools such as drills, hammers, chain saws.
The disorder is frequently seen among miners, roadmenders and
others whose jobs involve use of hand-held tools that

"The first hint of CTS is a sensation of numbness or pain,
usually on first awakening - as if parts of the hand had
'gone to sleep' - typically felt in the thumb and index
finger, but sometimes all the fingers tingle. The tingling
sensation worsens on flexing or extension of the wrist,
subsiding when the hand is bent inwards or at rest (in a
'neutral' position).

"Numbness from carpal tunnel syndrome may appear after any
movement that keeps the wrist overexerted for long periods:
stitching, painting, doing manicures or giving a massage.
Besides being annoying, the loss may lead to burns (due to
lessened sensation of heat, pain, pressure), and the muscle-
wasting can make wrist movements clumsy.  As CTS progresses,
wrist and thumb strength may seriously decline.  The reduced
grip may make it difficult to grasp even light objects.

"The tingling can be set off or worsened by anything that
makes the wrist tissues swell and compress the median nerve.
Fluid accumulation during pregnancy or before a menstrual
period, a Colles' (wrist-bone) fracture, gout, rheumatic
(arthritic) swelling, and adrenal or thyroid disease are
typical causes.

"Diagnosis of CTS is relatively easy by the typical night-
time or early-morning hand tingling, use of Phalen's test
(flexing the hands at a 90-degree angle to see if and when
tingling occurs) and Tinel's test (tapping the median nerve
at the wrist to see if and how strongly it produces
tingling).  The sooner the tingling appears, the more serious
the condition.  Confirmation is with a nerve-conduction study
and electromyogram (EMG), in which small electric shocks are
applied at different spots along the median nerve and the
muscle twitch is charted to show whether, and to what extent,
the hand muscle has retained or lost its nerve supply.

"Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome can be conservative:
wearing a light plastic wrist splint at night, taking anti-
inflammatory medication by mouth or injection into the wrist,
altering sleep positions and avoiding movements that worsen
the disorder. With correct therapy, time and patience, the
loss of nerve conduction can often be reversed.  Sometimes
operating tools in a better, more neutral wrist position
helps to alleviate the problem.  Modern designers are working
on vibration dampers, shock absorbers and other ways to
lessen the damaging vibrations of hand-held tools.

"If other methods fail to correct CTS, surgery to decompress
the nerve may be suggested - a simple procedure done under
general or local anesthetic that frees the trapped nerve and
usually provides rapid relief. After a few days, stitches are
removed, but splints may be needed until the wounds heals..."

[2.5] Is practicing scales, arpeggios, exercises, etc. useful?

You will find differing opinions on this matter, but most
pianists will agree that practicing these exercises can help
your technique if you approach it with the correct attitude.

Don't simply race through all the notes; treat the exercises
as if they were real compositions, and give them just as much
attention to phrasing and dynamics.  Also, try to find
exercises which pertain to the repertoire you are learning.
If you are studying a Bach fugue in E minor, for example,
careful practice of the E minor, G major, and neighboring
scales will help you much more than practicing the A flat
major scale.  With Hanon exercises, you can increase the
difficulty by transposing the studies into different keys,
playing them backwards, playing one hand legato and the other
staccato, playing them in canon, etc.  Be creative!

[2.6] 101 ways to play Hanon exercises

***I'm still compiling this part!  Any suggestions would be
most appreciated!!!***


[3] Teaching! What about teaching piano playing?

[3.1] Checklist for transfer or new students

This is a list compiled by Martha Beth Lewis, presented here
with her permission.  She likes to send a complete report of
the student when the student is transferring to another
teacher, or vice-versa.  If you are a teacher, this would be
a good guideline on what to look for when learning about a
new student.  She does not keep this list confidential - and
will share with the student, parent and the teacher involved.
It is also suggested to keep a record of the report for
future reference.

1.  general - when student began study and at what level
    (beginner or transfer.; parental attitudes), precis
    of personality, mental acuity, cooperative spirit
    last recital piece(s) and date(s), any other
    instruments played or desired to be played;
    other music activities

2.  note-reading skills (does student read sharps and flats?
    key signatures?)

3.  counting skills (eighth-notes yet? sixteenths?)

4.  technique studied; include exercises student would have
    started with me within the next 6-12 mos.; sight-reading

5.  articulation skills (can student play accents? staccato?
    sfz? portato? feminine endings? phrase lifts? motif

6.  fingering (how much does student do on own?)

7.  pedaling skills (damper? sostenuto? half-pedal?)

8.  literature studied

9.  ornamentation (which ornaments student can play; general
    knowledge of performance practice)

10. form and analysis skills, including keyboard harmony

11. ear-training skills

12. composition and improvisation (how much we have done;
    whether student seems interested in these areas more than
    the norm)

13. memory (how easily and securely student memorizes; how he
    feels about memory playing; my recommendation for memory

14. competitions and adjudicated exams (how student reacts
    to these; or how I think he might)

15. motivation (how well student motivates himself; what
    external motivators help or hinder)

16. poise (primarily stage presence)

17. summary (general recommendations for teaching strategies
    with this particular student; long-term prospects)


[4] Digital Pianos

Please read "Digital Pianos FAQ" and "Digital Pianos Hardware
List" available from anonymous ftp at under:


...or whatever similar method you used to get hold of this
"RMMP General Topics FAQ".


[5] Player Pianos

The general subject of player pianos is far too great to try
and cover entirely here.  Therefore, this list is limited to
those instruments most likely to be found at the average
estate sale, grandma's basement, or in an old dusty corner of
a garage.

This section of the FAQ was contributed by Rick Pargeter.  If
you have any questions regarding player pianos, please
contact Rick at  If you have
corrections, etc., please e-mail the FAQ maintainer at the
end of this FAQ.

[5.1] How old are they?

Most common players were manufactured between 1915 - 1929

[5.2] What are their values today?

Generally, an unrestored, average, run-of-the-mill, complete,
70-year-old player is perhaps worth 10% - 20% more than the
same vintage non-player.  However, it is always best to have
it professionally appraised.  Some players bring very high
values.  Player pianos which are grand pianos, original
"nickelodeons" (coin-operated commercial units), and
reproducing players are usually considered high-value player

[5.3] Definitions of parts

Bellows - A component usually consisting of two like-pieces
     of wood with a cloth hinge at one end, and covered with
     a rubberized cloth.  One side of the bellows will have
     an opening, so that when vacuum is applied, a mechanical
     action occurs.  Conversely, when connected to pedals and
     a check valve is added, they act as a pump, lowering the
     pressure in the stack.

Stack - The upper part of the player.  This is the part that
     plays the piano, and contains the valves, bellows,
     spoolbox,  and wind motor.

Spool Box - This is the area where the piano roll is
     inserted, and is usually behind a set of doors.

Tracker bar - The brass bar in the middle of the spool box
     that has all those holes in it.  Each hole represents a
     note on the keyboard.  They are sequential (i.e., C C# D
     D# E F F# G G# A  A# B).  Tubes, usually made of lead,
     are connected from the back of the tracker and to the
     stack.  Each tube is connected to a channel in the stack
     that controls a valve connected to the main vacuum
     supply from the pump.

Pump - The lower part of the player.  The pumping pedals are
     connected to the pump.  The pump usually contains the
     wind motor regulation, and controls to divert the vacuum
     to the stack, wind motor, and expression pneumatics.

Expression pneumatic - Since the piano's usual expression
     pedals are covered up by the pump pedals, it looks as if
     you cannot access them.  However, there is a way to
     duplicate these pedals through the use of expression
     pneumatics.  The piano controls are usually located
     underneath the hinged key slip.  Usually, there is a
     button which will control the equivalent pedal function
     also.  In order to operate the loud pedal, simply push a
     button on the control rail, and the loud expression
     pneumatic will operate exactly like the loud pedal.  In
     addition to the loud pedal, there are usually two soft
     pedal expression pneumatics.

[5.4] How do they work?

Player pianos use suction, not pressure, to work.  As the
pedals are operated, air is pulled from the pump and the
entire stack is placed under a slight vacuum.  This vacuum
operates a motor that turns the rolls in the spool box.  The
piano roll has holes cut in them that when they pass over the
tracker bar, the tracker bar's holes are uncovered.  A valve
is operated when the holes are uncovered that applies vacuum
to the striking pneumatic, which plays the note on the piano.

[5.5] Restoring player pianos?

As with any pianos, a key to safely restoring old instrument
is patience and time.  It is best to have restoration done by
a professional; however, anyone with a reasonable mechanical
aptitude and patience can restore a player.

The materials used in restoring player pianos are very
specialized, and are generally unavailable at your average
local stores.  Vinyl covering (naugehide) will crack to
pieces in a matter of days when used to recover pneumatics.
Common rubber hoses (fish tank and automotive style) will
collapse and turn brittle in a matter of months, rendering an
irreplaceable antique musical instrument useless.  Also,
white glue, silicone sealers, body filler, tape, etc., have
no place in player pianos.  The tried and true methods and
materials as used when manufactured are to be used in the

[5.6] Books on player restoration

The main book for player restoration is:

  PLAYER PIANO - Servicing and Rebuilding,
  by Arthur Reblitz
  Published by The Vestal Press
  Vestal, NY 13850
  ISBN 0-911572-40-6 (pbk.)

For advanced rebuilders:

  PNEUMATICS HANDBOOK & Orchestrion Builder's Handbook
  By Craig Brougher

[5.7] Where can I get Player piano parts?

The main source for player piano parts is:

   Player Piano Co.
   704 East Douglas
   Wichita, Kansas, 67202
   Tel. (316) 263-3241

[5.8] Where can I get new and used music rolls?

New Piano rolls are being produced today.  Some of the
manufacturers and suppliers are:

   Upright & Grand
   Eric D. Bernhoft
   P.O. Box 421101
   San Francisco, CA 94142

   QRS Music Rolls, Inc.
   1026 Niagara Street
   Buffalo, NY 14213-2099
   Tel: (716) 885-4600
   Fax: (716) 885-7510
   AOL Keyword: QRS

   QRS Pianomation Center
   Solenoid player piano division
   (similar to PianoDisc system)
   2011 Seward Ave
   Naples, FL 33942
   Tel: (941) 597-5888
   Fax: (941) 597-3936

   Play-Rite Music Rolls
   401 S. Broadway
   Turlock, CA 95380

   Bluestone Music Rolls
   485 Gatewood Lane
   Grayslake, IL  60030

   Piano Roll Center
   108 Southcreek Circle
   Folsom, CA 95630

   Collector's Classics
   163 Main St.
   Thomaston, ME 04861

   Pianola Institute
   c/o Denis A Hall
   6 Southbourne
   Hayes, Kent    England

   Bam-Bam Piano Rolls
   1750 Karg Drive
   Akron OH 44313-5504
   source of collectible player piano rolls

[5.9] Any player piano associations?

Automatic Musical Instrument Collectors Association (AMICA)
Suppliers of specialty items are also advertise here.  For
membership information contact:

   Mike Barnhart
   919 Lantern Glow Trail
   Dayton, Ohio 45431

[5.10] Mailing list?

There exists a group called Mechanical Music Digest, formerly
called Automatic Musical Instruments, which has a mailing
list maintained by Jody Kravitz.  If you want to subscribe,
send your request to:


[6] Harpsichords

[6.1] Where can I purchase a harpsichord?

Here's where you can get a harpsichord:

   Harpsichord Clearing House
   Glenn Giuttari
   9 Chestnut Street
   Rehoboth, MA  02769
   tel: (800) 252-4304

[6.2] Harpsichord mailing list

   Send e-mail to with a message (leave
   subject line blank):



[7] How Do I Represent Notes Using "Text" Characters?

There are three major notation systems being used rather
frequently today.  When you see a notation on your screen,
you will have to judge for yourself which system is being
used.  In most cases, that shouldn't be too difficult.  For
instance if you see "RPT" written after the poster's name,
you can probably assume they are using the "piano technician"
notation (RPT = Registered Piano Technician).  And if you
start seeing numbers higher than "7" being used after the
pitch, you probably can assume the "MIDI" notation system is
being used.

[7.1] The "General" notation method

There is a simple alpha-numeric notation system which has
been in existence for some time and which may be used in
postings on the Internet.  It is as follows:

  Going up starting at middle C:   c1  d1  e1  f1  g1  a1  b1
  Continuing up the next octave:   c2  d2  e2  f2  g2  a2  b2
  And the octaves above that:      c3  etc.

  ...and so on...

  First octave below middle C:     c   d   e   f   g   a   b
  Next octave lower:               C   D   E   F   G   A   B
  Next octave lower:               C1  D1  E1  F1  G1  A1  B1

  ...and so on...

  However, if you decide to print this out in hard-copy,
  publications rules change. On hard-copy, the numerals in
  the upper octaves are written as superscripts, and those
  below middle-C are written as subscripts.

  Source:  Baker, Theodore, Ed., "Pronouncing Pocket-Manual
  of Musical Terms", G. Schirmer, Inc., New York, 1947.

[7.2] The "Piano Technician" notation method

Some piano technicians seem to prefer a different system,
which starts with A0 at the bottom and ends with C8 at the

   A0  B0
   C1  D1  E1  F1  G1  A1  B1
   C2  D2  E2  etc.

   ...and so on, until you reach C8

[7.3] The "MIDI file" notation method

The MIDI files sequentially number keys from 1 at the bottom
to 88 at the top:

   A1  A#2  B3  C4  ...  B87  C88

[7.4] On sharps and flats

The computer keyboard imposes a few limitations on the use of
this notation system.  There is a sharp sign (# -- use the
"pound" sign) on the computer keyboard, but no flat sign.
The lower-case "B" (b) will have to suffice  The accidental
is written one position to the right of the letter which
indicates the note, makes it unambiguous.  For example, B#
for B-sharp-second-octave-below-middle-C, b1b for b-flat-
first-octave-above-middle-C, etc.


[8] Miscellaneous Tidbits

[8.2] Interval nomenclatures?

Here's a crash course on interval nomenclatures.

  perfect unison:    2 notes on same pitch
  minor second:      1/2 step
  major second:      1 step
  minor third:       1-1/2 steps
  major third:       2 steps
  perfect fourth:    2-1/2 steps
  augmented fourth:  3 steps   (see enharmonic intervals)
  diminished fifth:  3 steps   (see enharmonic intervals)
  perfect fifth:     3-1/2 steps
  minor sixth:       4 steps
  major sixth:       4-1/2 steps
  minor seventh:     5 steps
  major seventh:     5-1/2 steps
  perfect octave:    6 steps

perfect consonances: unisons (or primes), fourths, fifths,
     and octave are only perfect, diminished or augmented.

imperfect consonances: thirds and sixths intervals

dissonances: seconds and sevenths intervals. only major,
     minor, diminished or augmented

Major intervals: 1/2 step larger than minor intervals. only
     major, minor, diminished or augmented

Augmented intervals: 1/2 step larger than perfect or major

Diminished intervals: 1/2 step lower than perfect or minor

Enharmonic intervals: intervals that use the same pitches but
     are spelled differently (and thus function differently).

Tritone: augmented fourths and diminished fifths are
     enharmonic, and both are commonly referred to as the
     tritone. (for example, C to F# and C to Gb are not the
     same interval, but they are enharmonically the same)

Other intervals:
   compound intervals...larger than an octave
   inverted intervals...major becomes minor, etc., but note
                        that perfect inverts to perfect,
                        imperfect to imperfect, and dissonant
                        to dissonant

Sources of this information:

Benjamin, Horvit, and Nelson, "Techniques and Materials of
Tonal Music" (Houghton Mifflin, 1975):

[8.3] Octave spans of various pianos and harpsichords

[8.3.1] Harpsichord octave spans

   Pisaurensis (1533) = 169mm
   Ruckers            = 167mm
   Pratensis (1612)   = 166mm
   J. Mayer (1619)    = 168mm
   Giusti (1676)      = 174mm
   Italian (1695)     = 163mm
   Kirkman (1767)     = 162mm
   Graebner (1774)    = 156mm
       Schmahl (1794) = 158mm

[8.3.2] Piano octave spans (All grands unless otherwise noted)

   Cristofori (1726)         = 164mm
   Pohlman (square, 1770)    = 178mm
   Stein (1780s)             = 156, 158, 160mm
   Schiedmeyer (1780)        = 156mm
   Schiedmeyer (1785)        = 180mm
   Longman & Broderip
          (square, 1790)     = 169mm
   Schantz (1790, 1805)      = 160mm
   Schmid (1794)             = 158mm
   Clementi (1805)           = 163mm
   Erard (Beethoven's
          piano, 1803)       = 162mm
   Walter (1795)             = 159mm
   Walter (1803)             = 153mm
   Walter (1815)             = 160mm
   Streicher (1816)          = 158mm
   Kirckman (1820)           = 162mm
   Broadwood (Beethoven's
              piano, 1817)   = 166mm
   Broadwood (1819)          = 164mm
   Boehm (6 oct)             = 158mm
   Fritz  (c1825 in workshop
           of Paul Poletti)  = 167mm
   Graf (1826, similar to
         Beethoven's Graf)   = 161mm
   J.B. Streicher (1841)     = 158mm
   Pleyel (1852, cf Chopin's
           Pleyel of 1839)   = 164mm
   Steinway (Hamburg, 1937,
             modern range)   = 165mm
   Bluethner (modern range)  = 165mm

[8.5] What's a standard height of a piano keyboard?


[8.6] Klavarscribo?

   Klavar Music Foundation
   171 Yarborough Road
   Lincoln LN1 3NQ
   tel: +44 (0) 1522-523117

[8.7] Printing staff lines using postscript codes?

(courtesy of anonymous someone on the net)
Try creating a file with the following postscript command
lines, and print it out on a postscript printer.

% blank page of 12-line music paper
0 setlinewidth
/staffline{newpath dup 75 exch moveto 480 0 rlineto stroke} def
/staff{dup 5 exch 20 add {staffline} for} def
95 53 678 {staff} for


[9] On Copyright Laws

The following is a rather simplified summary of materials
(Circulars) published by the U. S. Copyright Office, a
department of the Library of Congress.  Also take a look at
the Copyright Office web pages at:

This section not intended to be legal advice, nor is it
necessarily error-free.  It is included here to give people
some basic knowledge pertaining to copyrighted materials.

[9.1] Where do I get the information on copyright laws?

U. S. Copyright Office, a department of the Library of
Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, S. E., Washington, DC
20559. Phone (202) 707-3000.  The source materials may be
obtained on the Internet by gopher or telnet to the Library
of Congress at address  For telnet log in as
marvel.  Select the copyright option from the main Library of
Congress menu.

[9.2] Copyright Status

Title 17, U.S. Code provides copyright protection for both
published and unpublished works, granting the owner of the
copyright exclusive rights over reproduction, creation of
derivative works, distribution of copies for sale or rent,
and public performance and display.

Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are
"fixed in a tangible form of expression," such as scores or
sound recordings of musical works.  Works that have not been
"fixed in a tangible form of expression," such as
improvisational performances that have not been written or
recorded, are not protected by copyright.  Works for which
the copyright has expired are no longer protected; they are
in the public domain and cannot again receive copyright

Currently copyright is automatically secured upon the
creation of a work (as "fixed in a tangible form...");
publication or registration with the Copyright Office is not
required.  Before 1978, copyright was generally secured by
means of publication with a copyright notice (e.g. Copyright
MCMXX by John Doe) or, for unpublished works, registration
with the Copyright Office.  After March 1, 1989 the copyright
notice was no longer mandatory on copyrighted works.

[9.3] Duration of Copyright Status

A work created on or after January 1, 1978 is automatically
protected from the moment of its creation, and protection
ordinarily lasts for the author's life plus an additional 50
years thereafter.

For works published or registered before January 1, 1978 a
first term copyright of 28 years starting on the date it was
secured (published or registered as unpublished) was
provided.  During the last (28th) year of the first term, the
copyright was eligible for renewal for another 28 years.  For
copyrights in effect January 1, 1978 the current copyright
law extended the renewal term from 28 to 47 years, giving
works with renewed copyrights a total term of protection of
75 years. For copyrights secured January 1, 1964 through
December 31, 1977, the 47 year extension is automatic.

This means that as of 1995 all works published during or
before 1920 are now in the public domain, as are works
published before 1964 for which a copyright extension was not

Circulars 15, 15a, and 15t contain further information on
copyright terms.  Circular 22 describes how to search the
Copyright Office records concerning the copyright status of a

[9.4] International Protection

The United States is a founding member of the Universal
Copyright Convention (UCC) since September 16, 1955 and a
member of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary
and Artistic Works.  A work by a national or resident of a
member country of the UCC or a work first published in a UCC
country may claim protection under the UCC.

The U.S. joined the Berne Convention on March 1, 1989.
Members of the Berne Union agree to treat nationals of other
member countries like their own nationals for purposes of

For further information on international copyrights see
Circulars 38a and 93.

[9.5] Derivative Works and Editions

Regarding derivative versions of previous works, including
musical arrangements, adaptations, revised or newly edited
editions: the derivative works are independently copyright-
able, and the copyrights of such works do not affect or
extend the protection, if any, of the underlying work.

I would presume that the concept of a derivative work applies
to a musical work which has been edited, and that any
additions or changes due to editing is what is being
copyrighted, but I have not run across specifics in this
regard. other words...

If you want to make a simplified edition of something--you
have to use music in the public domain or you have to get
permission from the copyright holder.  It is sometimes quite
a search to find out and to secure permission.  But it must
be done.

[9.6] Fair Use

The "fair use" of a copyrighted work, including reproduction
as copies or recordings for purposes such as criticism,
comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies
for classroom use), scholarship, research, or parody, is not
an infringement of copyright. Fair use is covered in Section
107 of title 17.  There is no real definition of fair use,
and in court cases each situation is decided based on its own
facts.  However, four yardsticks have come to be used, which
are expressed in section 107 as:

  "(1) the purpose and character of the use, including
       whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for
       non-profit educational purposes;
   (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
   (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in
       relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
   (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for
       or value of the copyrighted work."

Most of the applications of the "fair use" concept have to do
with books and articles as used in teaching. a nutshell...

Fair use includes:
   a) reviews/criticism (including parody),
   b) scholarly use (photocopying one section only--
      not a complete perform-able portion such as a movement
      or an aria; and for study purposes only, not for
      "using"--such as photocopying a copy for each student
      to use for a form & analysis exercise or test).
   c) Copying a page to avoid a page turn is generally
      considered fair use.

Fair use does not include:
   a) copying to avoid buying the book
   b) because it's out of print
   c) because there's not enough time to order and receive
      another copy,
   d) because you can't find who holds the copyright
   e) because you need one for your duet partner.

[9.6] More...?

Martha Beth Lewis has written up a section on commonly asked
questions regarding music copyrights.  The URL is

Also, check out Copyright FAQ at


[10] Books and Magazines on Pianos

[10.1] Magazines on pianos

   Clavier Magazine
   200 Northfield Rd
   Northfield, Ill 60093

   Keyboard Companion
   PO Box 24-C-54
   Los Angeles, CA 90024
   focus on teaching at early levels

   Piano & Keyboard
   PO Box 767
   San Anselmo, CA  94979-0767
   (415) 485-6946

   Piano Explorer
   200 Northfield Rd
   Northfield, Ill 60093
   primarily for piano students (young ones)

   Piano Today (formerly Keyboard Classics & Piano Stylist)
   223 Katonah Avenue
   Katonah, NY 10536
   Misc. articles and music both classical & pop/jazz

   Sheet Music
   PO Box 58629
   Boulder, CO 80321-8629
   (800) 759-3036

   Musical Success Resource Guide
   tel: (314) 773-3466
        (800) 527-ROCK
   This is a free newsletter/catalog which features tips and
   tools on how to make money and succeed with your career in
   music.  Also it contains many promotional listings, it
   regularly features tips.  You can also ask to be put on
   their e-mail list to get regular e-mail updates.

[10.2] Random recommended readings on piano playing

Ward Cannel & Fred Marx, "How to Play the Piano Despite Years
of Lessons: What Music Is & How to Make It at Home", Hal
Leonard Corp. ISBN0-385-14263-3, $17.95, (Video: $39.95,
   Useful especially for someone just beginning to play by
   ear (assumes knowledge of basic musical notation, melodies

   Hal Leonard Corp.
   7777 W. Bluemound Rd.
   P.O.Box 13819
   Milwaukee, WI 53213

James Friskin and Irwin Freundlich, "Music for the Piano,"
Dover Publishing. ISBN 0-486-22918-1, ~$10
   Book on piano repertoire

[10.3] Some books on jazz playing

Scott D. Reeves, "Creative Jazz Improvisation"
   A very thorough book on the application of various scales,
   modes, and techniques to jazz chord progressions, and it's
   chock full of exercises to boot.

Mark Levine, "The Jazz Piano Book," Chuck Sher Publishing
   This book will give you a nice complete introduction to
   scale theory, and it contains information on chord voicing
   and how to approach different progressions.

Mark Levine, "The Jazz Theory Book," Chuch Sher Publishing

Stephen Nachmanovich, "Free Play: Creativity in Life
   and in the Arts."
   This book covers improvisation, creativity in jazz playing

[10.4] What books discuss the piano literature?

There are two books reported so far.  The definitive classic
is "The Literature of the Piano" by Ernest Hutchison, which
was written in the early part of this century.  For the most
part, this book sticks to the traditional Classical and
Romantic repertoire, though there is also an interesting
discussion of Bach and the pre-Baroque composers.  The
revised edition, updated by Rudolph Ganz, adds useful
sections on more modern composers, as well as commentary on
the older material.  There are even a few places where Ganz
takes Hutchison to task!  The two also make recommendations
for selection of repertoire.   Overall, it is a wonderful
book which is not just for reference, but can also be read
cover to cover.

A more recent book is "The Art of the Piano", by [???].  This
book is more encyclopedic in nature than "The Literature of
the Piano", and it does not try to recommend particular
works, as "The Literature of the Piano" does. Therefore, it
is strictly a reference work, but it is more complete.  In
particular, there is detailed information on modern
compositions written after the publication of "The Literature
of the Piano". Unfortunately, nothing before Bach and
Scarlatti is listed.  There is also an encyclopedic listing
of pianists in this book.

[10.5] Random miscellaneous reference books

Paul Cooper "Perspectives in Music Theory", Harper & Row, 1973.
  book on music theory

Benjamin, Horvit, and Nelson, "Techniques and Materials of
Tonal Music", Houghton Mifflin, 1975.
  more book on music theory

John Clough and Joyce Conley, "Scales Intervals Keys Triads
Rhythm and Meter", Norton. ISBN 0-393-95189-8, ~$24
  programmed text for introductory theory

Dorothy Priesing and Libbie Techlin, "Language of the Piano:
A Workbook in Theory and Keyboard Harmony", Carl Fischer
  focuses on theathing theory in a way that is useful to
  keyboard players.  Covers theory and some keyboard


[11] Other Mail Order Companies

[11.1] Music score companies has a FAQ containing extensive
list of mail-order companies.  Please check their FAQ list if
you want more.

   Dover Publications
   31 East 2nd Street
   Mineola, NY 11501

   Eble Music Company
   P.O. Box 2570
   Iowa City, Iowa  52240
   tel: (319) 338-0313
    fast, dependable source for classical music scores.
    will help special search for hard-to-get music

   Musica Obscura
   17 Ebbet Avenue
   Wallaston, MA  02170
   tel: (617) 773-1947
    a source for unusual piano music from classical and
    romantic periods. (photocopies, so obviously no recent
    music included)

   tel: (212) 582-5840
    classical music

   Patti Music
   414 State Street
   PO Box 1514
   Madison, WI  53701-1514
   tel: (800) 777-2884

   RBC Music Company, Inc.
   4410 Piedras Drive West
   San Antonio, TX 78228
   tel: (800) 548-0917
        (210) 736-6902
   fax: (210) 736-2919
    has huge inventory of all types of piano music.
    specializes in educational print music
    Order on-line, or be added to e-mail list to receive
    promotional flyers or mail outs, send e-mail.

   Wadler-Kaplan Music Shop
   3907 S. Main
   Houston, TX 77002
   tel: (713) 529-2676
        (800) 952-7526
   fax: (713) 529-2844
   Sheet music

   Yesterday Music Service
   1972 Massachusetts Avenue
   Cambridge, MA  02140
   tel: (617) 547-8263
    Extensive selection of scores of all kinds, in any
    quantity.  They will take special orders of any scores
    they don't carry.  They also have a walk-in service on
    the 4th floor of 1972 Mass. Ave building (near Porter
    Square, on Red Line "T" station).  Offers student
    discounts for walk-in service.

[11.2] Digital Piano Mail-Order

Please see "Digital Pianos Hardware List" maintained by this
newsgroup.  See section [4] for how to get hold of a copy.

[11.3] Specialized recordings

A company called Academy Records specializes in publishing
CD's and cassettes of piano music that one tends to play as a
beginning/intermediate/early advanced student. Their
offerings include:

  Bach         "18 Little Preludes"
  Bach         "Anna Magdalena" w/ "Two-Part Inventions"
  Beethoven    "Selected Works" (Bagatelles, Fur Elise, etc.)
  Burgmuller   "25 Easy & Progressive Studies, Op.100"
  Clementi     "Six Sonatinas, Op.36"
  Kabalevsky   "30 Children's Pieces, Op.27"
               w/ "24 Little Pieces, Op.39"
  Schumann     "Album for the Young, Op.68"

  20th Century Literature (Copland "Cat and Mouse",
                           Turina "The Circus, etc.)

  Music from Jane Bastien's PIANO LITERATURE series, Vol.1-4

For more info. call contact

   Academy Records
   PO Box 10805
   Burbank, CA  91510-0805
   tel: (800) 858-1469


[12] Other sources of information

[12.1] RMMP Piano Internet Resources List

This document is in its draft stage, scheduled to be released
as its own FAQ soon.  The draft document is currently
available through the RMMP FAQ Locator Page (see beginning of
this document for URL).  This list is a compilation of
resources available on the Internet (WWW, Gopher, FTP) which
are piano-related or may be of interest to pianists.

[12.2] Piano Technicians Guild

The home office of the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG) is
located in Kansas City, MO, and apparently keep the usual 9-5
business hours.  Here are some methods to contact them.  The
PTG's www home page has many interesting and useful
information.  I highly recommend you to go check it out, if
you haven't done so yet!

    3930 Washington
    Kansas City, MO 64111
    tel: (816) 753-7747

end RMMP General Topics FAQ

I would like to extend my thanks to many in the RMMP
newsgroup for bits and pieces of information contained in
this FAQ: Martha Beth Lewis, Tim MacEachern, Guy Klose, Larry
Fine, Tom Sheehan, John Musselwhite, Ron Torrella, Achim
Gratz, (Carolyn), Duncan Vinson, Stephen
Birkett, and Virginia Marks for directly contributing to this
FAQ.  Special thanks goes to Phil Tompkins, for his countless
suggestions, proof-reading, contributions, etc.  This is what
happens when you "volunteer" to help me write this FAQ!  :-)
If I missed anyone, please let me know!  This is really a
collective effort of the entire newsgroup.

This document is copyright (c) 1995-1997 by Isako Hoshino.  It may
be freely distributed in its entirety provided that this
copyright notice is not removed.  It may not be sold for
profit nor incorporated in commercial documents without the
author's permission.

This article is provided "as is" without express or implied
warranties.  While every effort has been taken to ensure the
accuracy of the information contained in this article, the
maintainer assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions,
or for damages resulting from the use of the information
contained herein.

Isako Hoshino

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM