Tuesday, June 2, 2015

celesta - an unstrung piano

A celesta is a piano with bars instead of wire. Actually, they appear to be metal cylinders, but I couldn't figure out what to call them other than bars. It was invented in 1886 by Auguste Mustel. It sounds beautiful, but it's kind of amazing that it was developed almost 200 years after the invention of the piano. Once you figure out the piano, it seems like it'd be an obvious variation to have the hammers hit bars instead of strings. Perhaps there is more to it than that? The description indicates the entire instrument vibrates to make the sound. Unlike a piano, it appears not to use a soundboard.

In this video you can hear that the celesta sounds sort of like a xylophone. It's a very soothing sound.

I wasn't able to find a video that showed what was going on inside a celesta while it was being played. In some examples it's clearly an electronic instrument. In other images it appears to be acoustic.

Please let me know if anyone finds a video of a celesta being played while its insides are visible.

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