If you were to go back to the 1950’s you would see a piano in every bar, hotel and living room around the country. The piano was a common household item, just as our TV is now. There were more pianos owned than there were cars!
Nowadays things have changed dramatically, and you will struggle to come across a piano unless you wander into a music shop. So where has it gone, and what’s it been replaced by?
Well, first of all we need to take into consideration the entertainment that was available in the 50’s around the house. Radio and TV was well and truly established by then, but they didn’t of course have the hundreds of channels we have now to surf through; and not every house could afford the luxury of a TV. They didn’t have mobile phones or iPads either, so clearly there is a huge difference nowadays. Have a look around your house right now and what do you see? An iPad on the table, a 50 inch flat screen TV mounted on the wall, a laptop, an iPhone?
Technology is an essential part of daily life in the 21st century. Without it, we probably wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves! It’s sad to say it, but it’s true – and I am no exception to the rule. In our house we have 3 TV’s, an iPad, an Xbox, a PS3, a PC, numerous laptops (mostly broken) etc. Just the other day our internet went down for a few hours, and we were going stir crazy. However, in the 1950’s you wouldn’t have been bored because you could sit and play the piano.
The piano was a huge part of the family back then, and almost everyone in the house could play something. It was the main form of entertainment, and many families would gather around the piano and all sing along. And when the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard came along, the piano became even more popular.
Not only might technology be to blame, but I think it’s also the shift in musical styles over the last few years. With the emergence of rap, dance and R & B, the piano has been pushed aside for a different sound. Although the keyboard is still used when creating a lot of these songs, we still can’t really use the word ‘piano’ to accredit this.
There are still a few artists out there that use the piano as their main instrument when performing. Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum, Jools Holland, James Rhodes – to name but a few; but with the emergence of new sounds that technology brings, we are not just content any more to listen to a piano or a guitar.
The piano will never die and will always be used in some format, but it saddens me to hear people like Jay-Z or Kanye West on our radio. I don’t have anything personal against this music or rappers in general, but overall I feel that this type of music is damaging for the future. Over the last few hundred years we have had great composers like – Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Bach, Debussy, John Lennon, Paul McCartney – to name but a few. Will we really look back at some of the stars of today and regard them in such high esteem? I don’t personally believe so, but there are many people out there that would disagree.
There is an audience out there for every musical style, so it’s all subjective. I am also a hypocrite to some extent because at one time or another I will have danced and tapped my feet to P Diddy (probably changed his name by the time you’ve read this). And there is always a time and place for all types of music, but for me music should be created to inspire, and should come from the heart. It should be created with passion and thought. It should be uplifting and moving.
I personally believe that the greatest songs to ever have been created, and will continue to be created will be written and composed on a piano or guitar. No matter how much technology we try to introduce to a song, and no matter how many buttons we want to press in a studio, instruments like the piano and guitar will always reign supreme.
I just hope the world comes to its senses in my lifetime, and doesn’t completely forget where true music comes from…