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How the Piano Works
 
Exploded view of a grand piano
Picture of an exploded piano (Adapted from "The Coupled Motions of Piano Strings"
by Gabriel Weinrich).  Copyright 1979 by Scientific American, Inc.  All rights reserved
When you push down on a piano key, the action causes a hammer to strike it's strings. The strings then vibrate producing the sound of a note. The sound of these vibrating strings is quite soft and is in need of some amplification. That is the purpose of the bridges and soundboard. The bridges transfer the vibrating energy of the strings to the soundboard. The large vibrating area of the soundboard can then amplify the sound of the vibrating strings.