Contemporary classical music can be understood as belonging to the period that started in the mid-1970s to early 1990s, which includes modernist, postmodern, neoromantic, and pluralist music. However, the term may also be employed in a broader sense to refer to all post-1945 musical forms.
At the beginning of the 20th century, composers of classical music were experimenting with an increasingly dissonant pitch language, which sometimes yielded atonal pieces. Following World War I, as a backlash against what they saw as the increasingly exaggerated gestures and formlessness of late Romanticism, certain composers adopted a neoclassic style, which sought to recapture the balanced forms and clearly perceptible thematic processes of earlier styles (see also New Objectivity and Social Realism).
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is widely known as one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in Classical music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music, and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal. Although not portable and often expensive, the piano’s versatility and ubiquity have made it one of the world’s most familiar musical instruments.
Pressing a key on the piano’s keyboard causes a felt-covered hammer to strike steel strings. The hammers rebound, allowing the strings to continue vibrating at their resonant frequency. These vibrations are transmitted through a bridge to a sounding board that couples the acoustic energy to the air so that it can be heard as sound. When the key is released, a damper stops the string’s vibration. See the article on Piano key frequencies for a picture of the piano keyboard and the location of middle-C. According to the Hornbostel-Sachs method of music classification, pianos are grouped with chordophones.
Piano blues is a catch-all term for blues genres that are structured around the piano as the primary musical instrument. Boogie woogie is one of the best known styles of piano blues. Piano is also featured in Chicago blues and West Coast blues. Blues pianists also influenced the genres of swing, R&B, jazz, and rock and roll
Jazz piano is a collective term for the techniques pianists use when playing jazz. The piano has been an integral part of the jazz idiom since its inception, in both solo and ensemble settings. Its role is multifaceted due largely to the instrument’s combined melodic and harmonic capabilities. For this reason it is an important tool of jazz musicians and composers for teaching and learning jazz theory and set arrangement, regardless of their main instrument. (By extension the phrase ‘jazz piano’ can refer to similar techniques on any keyboard instrument.)
Along with the guitar, vibraphone, and other keyboard instruments, the piano is one of the instruments in a jazz combo that can play both single notes and chords rather than only single notes as does the saxophone or trumpet.
A digital piano is a type of electronic keyboard designed to serve primarily as an alternative to the traditional piano, both in the way it feels to play and in the sound produced. It is intended to provide an accurate simulation of an acoustic piano. Some digital pianos are also designed to look like an ordinary piano, both the upright or grand piano. Digital pianos use either a synthesized emulation or samples of an actual piano, which are then amplified through an internal loudspeaker. Digital pianos incorporate weighted keys, which recreate the feel of an acoustic piano.