Google Doodle honours Bartolomeo Cristofori, the man credited with inventing piano

Netizens who visit Google's site on Monday are greeted with an animated Google Doodle, which, when clicked on, shows a man on a piano playing a tune from composer Bach.

The man is none other than Bartolomeo Cristofori, the man credited widely with inventing the piano. Monday would have been his 360th birthday.

Cristofori was born in Padua on May 4 in 1655, in what was then the Republic of Venice.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the instrument Cristofori invented was first known as "gravicembalo col piano e forte", which means "harpsichord that plays soft and loud".

On a blog explaining its doodles, Google wrote that one of Cristofori's "biggest innovations was creating a hammer mechanism that struck the strings on a keyboard to create sound. The use of a hammer made it possible to produce softer or louder sounds depending upon how light or hard a player pressed on the keys".

Monday's Google Doodle features Cristofori playing Bach's Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring and features a sliding scale that allows visitors to adjust the piano's volume.

Google added: "Being able to change the volume was a major breakthrough. And that's exactly what doodler Leon Hong wanted to highlight in this interactive doodle."

According to Time magazine, Cristofori, already an accomplished musical instrument maker, moved to Florence in 1690, where he would eventually invent his masterpiece.

The piano was built in 1709, but it was only 17 years later that he created a version that encompassed all the elements of the piano as it is now known.

jalmsab@sph.com.sg