A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Melopiano
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MELOPIANO. A grand piano with a sostinente attachment, the invention of Signor Caldera, applied in England by Messrs. Kirkman & Son, who have secured the sole right to use it here, and have made several instruments with it. The principle is original, the apparently sustained sounds being produced by reiterated blows of small hammers placed nearer the wrestplank bridge than the striking-place of the ordinary hammers, and suspended by a bar above and crossing the strings. The bar is kept in tremulous motion by means of a fly-wheel and pedal which the player has to keep going. These additional hammers would cause a continuous sound were it not for the dampers of the ordinary action which govern by simple string communication the checks that keep them still. Pressing down the keys the dampers rise and the checks are withdrawn. A crescendo to the sostinente is obtained by a knee movement which raises the transverse bar, directs the little hammers into closer proximity with the strings, and strengthens their blow. The quick repetition deceives and at the same time flatters the ear by a peculiar charm of timbre inherent in steel wire when the sounds can be prolonged. The ordinary hammers are controlled by the performer as usual, and may be accompanied by the attachment, or the damper pedal may be used, for which due provision is made. It will be observed that the Melopiano has a special expression for which special music will no doubt be written or improvised. The cost of the application of this ingenious invention is about 30 guineas.
[ A. J. H. ]