Pop music is rejecting the piano. Why?

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A SEARCH for the sound of acoustic piano in Billboard’s current Hot 100 yields few results. It is nowhere to be found in “I’m The One”, a collaboration between DJ Khaled and Justin Bieber (pictured), or among the digitised marimbas of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”. “Strip That Down”, an R&B track from Liam Payne (formerly of One Direction), also relies on computer-generated sounds. The piano has not been totally consigned to history: it is at the heart of “Praying”, a soulful ballad by Kesha, and Harry Styles’s “Sign of the Times”. But usually, ebony-and-ivory interludes make only fleeting appearances in pop songs, as in Coldplay and the Chainsmokers’ “Something Just Like This”. Has the tinkling of keys gone out of fashion?

From the earliest Italian fortepianos of the 1600s to the German Lieder of the 1800s, the acoustic piano was an integral part of songwriting, seen as a perfect complement to a singing voice. In the late 19th century, the instrument was a status symbol; New York was home…Continue reading

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