Google celebrated Bartolomeo Cristofori’s 360th birthday with a special Google Doodle dedicated to Cristofori’s greatest inventions: the piano.

Who Is Bartolomeo Cristofori?

Born May 4, 1655 in Padua, Republic of Venice, Cristofori is credited with inventing a hammer mechanism to strike chords at varying forces to produce different sounds, creating the piano as an alternative to the harpsichord. Originally called the ‘gravicembalo col piano e forte’ (harpsichord that plays soft and loud), the piano was created with the aim of varying volumes of chords depending on how hard the chord is struck by the hammer. The interactive Google Doodle allows users to change the volume of the piano as Cristofori plays the melody of Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

Cristofori, a known maker of musical instruments, reportedly invented the mechanisms for the piano around 1709, and continued to improve the instrument until his death in 1731. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, by 1726 Cristofori’s invention very strongly resembled the modern piano. That said, his piano invention was not widely recognized during his lifetime, as the harpsichord was still the instrument of choice.

Even Google Doodle artist, Leon Hong, hadn’t heard of Cristofori until he was tasked with creating the Google Doodle in his honor. “The topic was first suggested by the Google team in Italy. I was also astonished I had never heard of him given that he’d had such a large impact on music. We’re always trying to find topics that are educational, fun, surprising – Cristofori is an ideal topic. Hopefully after the doodle, people will think of Cristofori everytime they see a piano,” Hong said.

Of course, May 4 also marks Star Wars day. On the Google homepage, underneath the Doodle and search bar, a link under “May the Fourth be with you” brings users to the Google Play page of all six Star Wars films, available for purchase.

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