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88 Keys: The Making of a Steinway Piano Hardcover – 15 Oct 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Amadeus Press; New edition edition (15 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574671529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574671520
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.6 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,166,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

More than 500 people are involved in the creation of just one Steinway piano! From the selection and aging of the wood to the delicate voicing of the finished instrument, this special reissue of 88 Keys relates the story behind the instrument's intricate formation. Readers will learn about the many skilled craftspeople that have perfected their skills over years to bring a unique and personal touch to the finished product. Also included is an insider's look at the history of the company, which is accompanied by a timeline of major worldwide music events, and a full glossary of technical terms. This is must-have for music lovers, aspiring musicians, and pianists everywhere.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Miles Chapin's and Rodica Prato's "88 Keys - The Making of a Steinway Piano" is a delightful book which will appeal to general readers with an interest in music, the piano, or the history of Steinway & Sons. Although it is not an exhaustive or scholarly discussion, this brief, clearly written, and well-focused book will please readers with its warm, intimate, and thoroughly sympathetic account of the Steinways and their pianos. The tale is greatly enhanced by the fact that Chapin, a descendant of Steinway's founder, enriches the book with family anecdotes. One is amused, for example, by his confession that as a child he threw pencils into the family Steinway so he could watch his uncle take the piano apart. One shares with him a child's joy in contemplating a machine that is at once both bewilderingly complex and yet a thoroughly reliable source of beautiful music. Like Chapin's other family stories, this one gives the reader the satisfying feeling that the Steinways truly loved their pianos and the music they made.
A special surprise in this book is its clear, accurate, and easily understood discussion of the science of the piano, which the Steinways advanced through many important contributions. All too often, this topic is handled so badly that facts are obscured and readers are intimidated. Technophobes who are ill at ease with physics and mathematics can finally relax! Chapin's explanation is factual yet thoroughly accessible, and one feels completely safe in his hands. His explanations entertain even as they inform, and they are bound to enrich the reader's appreciation of the piano's music.
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Chapin has attained the impossible... or the nearly impossible. He has taken a thing of beauty, a Steinway piano, torn it apart, reduced it to its thousands of components, and put it back together, all the while retaining the mystery, art and magic of the instrument. Bravo!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brilliant in every respect - history of piano making - the types of timber that go into piano construction and complete guide to piano assembly
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9b9c6f90) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9baf99fc) out of 5 stars Oversized Pamphlet, inadequate detail and diagrams 14 Feb. 2001
By Yogi Trout Bear - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is fundamentally an oversized pamphlet. It is double-spaced with wide margins and still only has about 130 pages including many illustrations. Steinway has a CD-rom, which one can obtain quite easily, which covers many Steinway construction topics with better illustrations (including video) than this pamphlet. Anyone with any knowledge at all of piano construction (viewers of the Steinway CD- rom video, and a couple of manufacturers' brochures) will be disappointed in this book.
The book contains no photographs. Hard to believe, eh? The illustrations are excellent, but do not seem to be integrated with the text and very few are diagrammatic showing how things work, just show how they are, if you are lucky.
Many topics are described without detailed reference and explanation with an illustration or diagram.
E.g.. Pg. 15 clavichord mechanism is described verbally, without diagrams.
Pg 64: English style ... "the hammer heads are placed at the far end of the mechanisms and move forward when the keys are struck." I am clueless as to what this would look like. " a glimpse at any contemporary grand piano keyboard will..." How about a picture?
Pg 48-49 Re: matched veneers: " a careful look at the case of any natural wood-finished Steinway will show you how good they are." No photographs or illustrations.
Pg 52 re Scales. "these characteristic dimensions differentiate pianos from different makers more than any other technical element." Perhaps I do not understand the statement, but a Steinway salesperson will point out three distinct differentiations between Steinway and its competitors, which are technically related in my mind.
I was abhorred to look down at the page number, 62, half way through the book, and realized I had only learned a few things of interest and had not learned anything of several topics which I had assumed would be covered. While I did not keep track of the time, I felt I had only been reading a short while.
On several occasions the author begins on what appears an interesting topic, but he either aborts early or has no illustrative diagrams and I cannot follow, despite very good grades in science classes from a prestigious private etc.
Pg. 56. He starts talking about harmonics, but has no diagrams, and again, if one does not know harmonics will probably just be confused.
He talks about sound board gluing, but again no illustrative diagrams or dimensions on final cut. How thick is a soundboard?
Bridge: verbally describes making one, but no diagrams or detailed illustrations.
I will stop with the last. One thing I would certainly expect from a book on making a piano is a detailed explanation with diagrams of how the action works. Pg. 71 (this paragraph is unbelievable): "A model of a piano's action is a fascinating thing to behold. I used to play with one for hours on end ..." "The answer is that the pianos action has evolved over years of experimentation." That's it! No explanation of how the mechanism of the action actually works. One very nice still illustration, but no explanation or additional diagrams.
If this book does not sell on Amazon, it will not sell anywhere, because I would never have bought this oversized pamphlet at a bookstore.
Sorry.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa72f8228) out of 5 stars An entertaining book for all readers 20 Mar. 1998
By Jim Conner (jim_conner@msn.com) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Miles Chapin's and Rodica Prato's "88 Keys - The Making of a Steinway Piano" is a delightful book which will appeal to general readers with an interest in music, the piano, or the history of Steinway & Sons. Although it is not an exhaustive or scholarly discussion, this brief, clearly written, and well-focused book will please readers with its warm, intimate, and thoroughly sympathetic account of the Steinways and their pianos. The tale is greatly enhanced by the fact that Chapin, a descendant of Steinway's founder, enriches the book with family anecdotes. One is amused, for example, by his confession that as a child he threw pencils into the family Steinway so he could watch his uncle take the piano apart. One shares with him a child's joy in contemplating a machine that is at once both bewilderingly complex and yet a thoroughly reliable source of beautiful music. Like Chapin's other family stories, this one gives the reader the satisfying feeling that the Steinways truly loved their pianos and the music they made.
A special surprise in this book is its clear, accurate, and easily understood discussion of the science of the piano, which the Steinways advanced through many important contributions. All too often, this topic is handled so badly that facts are obscured and readers are intimidated. Technophobes who are ill at ease with physics and mathematics can finally relax! Chapin's explanation is factual yet thoroughly accessible, and one feels completely safe in his hands. His explanations entertain even as they inform, and they are bound to enrich the reader's appreciation of the piano's music. Moreover, his explanation of the Steinway manufacturing process is so clear and understandable that one wishes Chapin's style could become a model for other writers on technical subjects.
Regarding Prato's colorful illustrations, I must confess that I was frankly hostile at first. I thought they gave the book the appearance of a children's story rather than a serious work for intelligent adults. Photos, I thought, would have been much better: clearer, more detailed, and more accurate. But I was wrong on every count. I came to see that Prato's illustrations are a superb complement to Chapin's text, bringing warmth and passion to a topic that might otherwise seem dry. They personalize this book, constraining it to a human scale, and making it accessible to readers of all ages. Even the youngest reader will enjoy them. Moreover...and much to my surprise...they are stunningly accurate, and due to Prato's effective use of color to create contrast between various components, they seem even more detailed than photos.
I strongly recommend this book to general readers of all ages. It would make an excellent gift that is certain to inspire a player of any ability. Young children will need some adult help with technical sections, but I cannot think of a better way to encourage them to set high goals. After all, success at the piano almost always leads to a closer and more personal relationship with Steinway, as so many renowned artists can attest. This book lets that relationship begin today at a very small fraction of the cost of a Steinway D.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c3117b0) out of 5 stars Gorgeous book about building a piano 23 Jun. 2001
By Carol C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives you a blow-by-blow account of how a piano is made at the Steinway factory in New York City. The book is readable and gives you an appreciation of the detail and precision, all of the handiwork that go into a well-crafted piano. It also shows that a piano is not just a standard item -- pianos are crafted for individuals (Horowitz likes a light, responsive touch, Rubenstein wanted a more resistant touch, some performers want different tones depending on what they are playing). The only drawback (unless you're a Steinway groupie) -- it's rather self-promotional, a well-written, well-illustrated 143-page Steinway & Sons advertisement, but fascinating nonetheless.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9cae65e8) out of 5 stars Mr. Chapin fine tunes the art of piano making. 6 Jan. 1999
By samlet@aol.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Chapin has attained the impossible... or the nearly impossible. He has taken a thing of beauty, a Steinway piano, torn it apart, reduced it to its thousands of components, and put it back together, all the while retaining the mystery, art and magic of the instrument. Bravo!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bafc00c) out of 5 stars For the coffee table, in a good way 20 Oct. 2004
By Byudzai - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
88 Keys is beautifully presented; a large-size book full of fine colored pencil sketches, broken down into chapters on each aspect of the piano.

The book is best suited, and was probably intended, to be a coffee table book at Steinway sites. It provides an overview of the process of building a Steinway, making note of all the innovations that make Steinways pianos the most popular today.

My only reservation is this: I bought it hoping that it would be geared toward the reader interested in the engineering and perhaps physics of piano building. The book provides only enough detail to *just* satisfy this interest, but I walk away like leaving the dinner table still a little hungry.

Nevertheless, this book took me, in its storybook way, from no knowledge of piano manufacture to an overall satisfying knowledge. I'm definitely eager, now, to visit the Steinway factory and see it all for myself.
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