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Few people know his name, but Bartolomeo Cristofori was one of the most important people in the history of music – because he invented the piano. Today's Google Doodle celebrates the musical pioneer's 360th birthday.
Cristofori was born on 4 May 1655 in Padua and looked after the harpsichords of the Florentine court for the Grand Prince Ferdinando de’ Medici.
By 1700 he’d created what he called an ‘arpicimbalo’ – an instrument similar to the harpsichord but, crucially, with a hammer- rather than a plucking-action and capable of different dynamics.
Google has today used its iconic ‘doodle’ to celebrate Cristofori and his ground-breaking invention. Users can adjust the volume while a cartoon of Cristofori plays a rather mechanical rendition of Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring on his new instrument.
On its blog, Google said that Cristofori’s “biggest innovation was creating a hammer mechanism that struck the strings on a keyboard to create sound. The use of a hammer made it possible to produce softer or louder sounds depending upon how light or hard a player pressed on the keys.
“Being able to change the volume was a major breakthrough. And that’s exactly what doodler Leon Hong wanted to highlight in this interactive doodle.”