Difference Between Piano And Organ (With Table)

Music instruments Piano and Organ being keyboard instruments have notable similarities. There are a few key differences among the instruments that have been covered in this article. Right from producing sounds to the inner functionality of these instruments has a lot of disparities. 

Piano vs Organ

The difference between Piano and Organ is that the piano is a percussion instrument because of the action of the hammer hitting strings inside the piano and organs are non-percussive changed instruments and when a key is pressed, the air is allowed to pass through a very large tin whistle, with the real function being nothing more than an air valve.

A Piano produces sound by pressing a key, which causes a hammer to strike a string in the piano. Each hammer strikes two or three strings, which must be tuned to the precise pitch to produce the desired sound. The higher the pitch, the tighter they are. When a note is pressed and kept down, the sound lasts only a few seconds before gradually dying away.

An organ instrument receives a constant supply of air. When a key is pressed, pressurized air is forced through the pipes, producing sound. To give the different pitches, the pipes are shaped specifically and have a specific radius. The sound can last as long as the key is pressed since there is a constant supply of air.

Comparison Table Between Piano And Organ

Parameters of ComparisonPianoOrgan
Who invented it?Bartolomeo CristoforiEngineer Ctesibius of Alexandria
How sound is producedThe sound is produced when strings are struck when the hammer is pressed against one of the strings while the keys are pressed.The organ feeds wind into pipes affecting the air to travel back and forth to produce sound.
Number of keysA standard piano has 88 keys (52 white and 36 black)The organ has 61 keys (electronic organs have 25, 49, 44, or 37 keys)
Types There are three primary types: grand, upright, and electronic.There are seven types: pipe, reed, electric, barrel, steam, potable, water, and classical.
StringsThe number of strings depends on the type of piano.There are no strings in the organ.

What is Piano?

A harpsichord artisan named Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano in Italy. The word “piano” comes from the Italian language and means “soft.” 

The “Pianoforte” is the full name of the instrument. It translates to “soft-loud” in English. The Harpsichord was the instrument that preceded the Piano and could not be played softly or loudly. 

Many people referred to it as the “soft and loud Harpsichord” at first. We now refer to it as the “Piano” for short.

As said earlier, the word piano comes from the Italian language. It implies “softly” when used in sheet music or a musical score. It’s a note from the composer showing that this portion of music should be played or sung quietly.

The abbreviation goes with the letter “p” and the order makes it softer with the addition of every “p”.

  1. p. = soft
  1. pp. =  very soft
  1. ppp. = extremely soft

The opposite of forte is piano, which is written as “f”.

  1. f. = loud
  1. ff. = very loud 
  1. fff. = extremely loud

As you can see, the name of the instrument is pianoforte because it can be played at various volumes and intensities depending on the composer and/or performer’s preferences: from the piano (soft) to forte (loud). 

What is Organ?

There are various types of organs, they are sometimes referred to as keyboard instruments. 

However, the organ was originally an Aerophone, which belongs to the group of instruments that produce sound using air pressure, such as flutes, trombones, trumpets, and others.

An organ is a collection of woodwind instruments controlled by a keyboard, hence it is a keyboard instrument in certain ways.

A church organ, for example, comprises hundreds of woodwind instruments, some similar to a recorder and others similar to a clarinet, each designed to play a single note at a specific volume; varying pipe sizes produce varied pitches, and unique designs produce distinct timbres.

This is the most powerful of all organ kinds that can be found in many churches. They have air-drawn pipes of varying sizes and pull stops that are usually white, with instrument varieties ranging from bourdon to flute and everything in between.

Musicians generate the sound in an organ through pumping, not blowing, creating the air stream that plays the pipes, and we usually select the pipes that sound by hitting buttons on a keyboard.

Few types of organ instruments that are used worldwide:

  1. Street Organ
  1. Theatre Organ
  1. Barrel Organ
  1. Positive Organ
  1. Pump Organ
  1. Electronic Organ
  1. Pipe Organ

Main Differences Between Piano and Organ

  1. The piano is a percussion instrument, and the organ is a woodwind instrument.
  1. In a piano, the sound is generated when the mechanically attached key gets a stroke. While on the contrary, Organ generates sound electronically with the keys.
  1. The notes in a piano will be sustainable endlessly and no need to hit the keys constantly and the keys in an organ have to be hit continuously as they are not sustainable endlessly.
  1. On a piano, playing legato (linking notes) is easier than on an organ. This is made a lot easier with the sustain pedal. On a pipe organ, musicians must make all legato linkages on the keyboard with fingers, hence proper fingerings are extremely important.
  1. A pianist opens the lid of the piano so that the sound travels directly throughout the room or covers towards the room, but the sound in an organ instrument travels straight up. 
  1. The piano is the simplest keyboard instrument to deal with, but for an organ instrument, it includes little complexity.

Conclusion

The piano is a percussion instrument that discards a few sounds that are covered up by the organ instruments.

Organ playlists can handle playing piano as when they can deal with the more complex instrument, they can easily manage to play piano as it is simple. 

Some grand organ functions would not have the same power if performed on the piano.

The pianos don’t entirely depend on the force of the key store for expression, whereas the organ is almost entirely dependent on the force of the keystroke for expression. With the organ, you can be a little “mushy” with the keyboard force and hear little difference.

References

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