From:  (Isako Hoshino)
Subject: FAQ-General Topics
Followup-To: poster
Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Approved: news-answers-request@MIT.EDU
Summary: This article is a collection of general information
         frequently asked in

Archive-name: music/piano/general-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 17 Oct 1997
Version: 1.7a

This is the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list for the 

This FAQ list is intended to present general topics 
frequently addressed in  It is posted 
every month.  Updates, additions, suggestions and corrections 
are always welcome: send e-mail to the address at the end of 
this FAQ.

This FAQ is periodically posted to, 
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   SEND usenet/news.answers/music/piano/general-faq

You also have access to rmmp FAQs on WWW:


changes from version 1.7
  minor corrections

Rec.Music.Makers.Piano General Topics FAQ

You may run a search using the pattern [#.#] where "#.#" is 
the topic number.


[1] About
  [1.1] What is
  [1.2] Who reads this group?
  [1.3] What kind of topics are discussed in RMMP?
  [1.4] FAQ lists maintained by this newsgroup

[2] On Piano Playing
  [2.1] Am I too old to start learning how to play piano?
  [2.2] How do you improve sight-reading?
  [2.3] Playing from memory?
  [2.4] Ouch!  My arm hurts!!
      [2.4.1] Repetitive stress injuries
      [2.4.2] What's a carpal tunnel syndrome?
  [2.5] Is practicing scales, arpeggios, exercises, etc. useful?
  [2.6] 101 ways to play Hanon exercises

[3] Teaching! What about teaching piano playing?
  [3.1] Checklist for transfer or new students

[4] Digital Pianos

[5] Player Pianos
  [5.1] How old are they?
  [5.2] What are their values today?
  [5.3] Definitions of parts
  [5.4] How do they work?
  [5.5] Restoring player pianos?
  [5.6] Books on player restoration
  [5.7] Where can I get Player piano parts?
  [5.8] Where can I get new and used music rolls?
  [5.9] Any player piano associations?
  [5.10] Mailing list?

[7] How Do I Represent Notes Using "Text" Characters? 
  [7.1] The "General" notation method
  [7.2] The "Piano Technician" notation method
  [7.3] The "MIDI file" notation method
  [7.4] On sharps and flats

[8] Miscellaneous, Random Tidbits
  [8.1] What books discuss the piano literature?
  [8.2] Interval nomenclatures?
  [8.3] Octave spans of various pianos and harpsichords
      [8.3.1] Harpsichord octave spans
      [8.3.2] Piano octave spans
  [8.5] What's a standard height of a piano keyboard?
  [8.6] Klavarscribo?
  [8.7] Printing staff lines using postscript codes?

[9] On Copyright Laws
  [9.1] Where do I get the information on copyright laws?
  [9.2] Copyright Status
  [9.3] Duration of Copyright Status
  [9.4] International Protection
  [9.5] Derivative Works and Editions
  [9.6] Fair Use

[10] Books and Magazines on Pianos
   [10.1] Magazines on pianos
   [10.2] Random recommended readings on piano playing
   [10.3] Some books on jazz playing
   [10.4] What books discuss the piano literature?
   [10.5] Random miscellaneous reference books

[11] Other Mail Order Companies
   [11.1] Music score companies
   [11.2] Digital Piano Mail-Order
   [11.3] Specialized recordings

[12] Other Sources of Information
   [12.1] RMMP Piano Internet Resources List
   [12.2] Piano Technicians Guild


[1] About

[1.1] What is (RMMP) is an unmoderated newsgroup 
created February 1994, initiated by Tim MacEachern as a 
newsgroup dedicated for discussions related to pianos.  The 
group's initial intention was to pull together amateurs and 
professionals interested in piano playing or maintenance 
without creating prejudice as to whether they play in the 
classical, folk, jazz, popular or other musical styles.

[1.2] Who reads this group?

The newsgroup subscribers range from beginning piano students 
and people thinking about starting to professional players 
and teachers; professional piano technicians to casual do-it-
yourselfers -- all share a common interest in the piano.

[1.3] What kind of topics are discussed in RMMP? is an international forum for the 
dissemination of information and discussion of all topics 
related to pianos, piano playing, piano study and piano 
music.  Articles posted include, but not necessarily be 
limited to topics such as:

   - makes and models of pianos                   
   - piano tuning
   - mechanics and maintenance of pianos
   - techniques used in playing the piano
   - the technical or artistic merit of pieces
   - techniques applicable to different musical styles: 
     classical, folk, jazz, etc.
   - difficulty of mastery of pieces
   - creating electronic accompaniment to piano playing
   - non-acoustic piano-like instruments: digital pianos, 
     electric pianos, etc.
   - composing music for piano
   - compositions with a major piano component, 
     e.g. piano concertos or piano/violin sonatas
   - teaching styles and techniques

[1.4] FAQ lists maintained by this newsgroup

There are currently three official and three draft FAQ lists 
maintained by RMMP:

   General Topics FAQ                   (general-faq)
   Playing From Memory FAQ              (memory-playing-faq)
   Piano Maintenance and Purchasing FAQ (maint-and-buy-faq)
   Digital Pianos FAQ                   (digital-pianos-faq)
   Digital Pianos Hardware List         (digital-pianos-list)
   Piano Internet Resources List        (internet-resources)

All official RMMP FAQ lists can be retrieved from via anonymous FTP under the directory:


If you do not have access to anonymous FTP, you can get a 
copy by sending e-mail to with the 
message (leave the subject line blank, and replace the "*" 
with the name written within the parenthesis above):

   SEND usenet/news.answers/music/piano/*

You also have access to RMMP FAQs on WWW.  Here, both the 
official and draft documents are available:


[2] On Piano Playing

[2.1] Am I too old to start learning how to play piano?

The answer to this question is an emphatic "No! One is never 
too old to start!"  All you need is love of music, love of 
the piano, interest, perseverance and enthusiasm!! (well... 
and an access to a keyboard of some sort)  As an "older" 
student, you actually may have the advantage of quicker 
understanding of the concepts, and better motivation since 
you know why you want to play.  Also since you are the one 
initiating the learning process, you have a better chance of 
succeeding in your goals of becoming a piano player (some 
kids just start playing because their "parents told them so," 
and that won't get them too far in the long run).
Piano playing does wonderful things to the human mind and 
body.  There have been reports where an 80 year old person 
started to learn to play the piano, and in so doing, improved 
his motor skills, mental agility and overall well-being, and 
went ahead and became an excellent player!  So don't let 
those 5-year-old seemingly prodigious kids discourage you!  
Just go ahead and start learning!

[2.2] How do you improve sight-reading?

*** still under construction :-)  ***

[2.3] Playing from memory?

Please read "Playing from Memory FAQ" available from 
anonymous ftp at under


...or whatever similar method you used to get hold of this 
"RMMP General Topics FAQ".

[2.4] Ouch!  My arm hurts!!

[2.4.1] Repetitive stress injuries

Concurrent with the increased use of computer keyboards and 
mice in the work world at large, there is an increasing 
incidence of computer related repetitive stress injuries 
(RSI).  Such an injury can interfere with piano playing or 
even render it impossible.  Because of this possibility, here 
we introduce some sources of information available on the 
Internet and beyond, containing information on the nature, 
causes, prevention and treatment of RSIs.
The Typing Injury FAQ.
   Available periodically from newsgroups, news.answers,,
   comp.human-factors, and via anonymous ftp from the
   newsgroup archives at in directory
   A five-part document, Part 5 of which contains copious
   references to other information sources.
SOREHAND listserv
   RSI discussions by victims and therapy practitioners.
   To subscribe, send a message to
   containing as the text SUBSRIBE SOREHAND your name., under directory pub/typing-injury/
   An extensive anonymous ftp resource.

   Emil Pascarelli, "Repetitive Stress Injury: A Computer
   Users Guide," John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994.

   Gyorgy Sandor, "On Piano Playing," Schirmer Books -
   A division of Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1981.  

Richard Norris, M.D. publications
   Dr. Norris is the Director of the National Arts Medicine
   Center & Center for Repetitive Motion Disorders at the
   National Rehabilitation Hospital in Bethesda, Md.

   "The Musician's Survival Manual: a guide to preventing and
   treating injuries in instrumentalists," 1993,
   International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians.
   ISBN 0-918812-74-7  $16.95.

   This book describes types of injuries, and how to
   recognize, treat and prevent them.  Other topics covered
   are therapeutic exercises and returning to playing after
   an injury.  A list of performing arts clinics is given in
   an appendix.

     The book can be ordered from:
     MMB Music Inc. 
     Tel: 314 531-9635 
          800 543-3771 (USA/Canada)
   For people who are unable to locate a proper source of
   treatment Dr. Norris has also created a VHS tape titled
   "Treatment Options for Repetitive Motion Disorders",
   available for $65 directly from him at
     National Rehabilitation Hospital
     3 Bethesda Metro Ctr. Suite 950
     Bethesda, MD 20814
     (301) 654-9160

[2.4.2] What's a carpal tunnel syndrome?

Here's an excerpt from "The Complete Canadian Health Guide":

"...Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is an easily treatable wrist 
and hand disorder, more frequent in women than in men.  The 
problem arises through compression of the median (arm) nerve 
in its narrow passageway through the wrist, often starts up 
in mid-life to old age and generally affects both hands, the 
dominant (most-used) more severely.  CTS can arise from 
certain jobs or hobbies where repeated movements or 
vibrations inflame the wrist tissues - for instance, 
knitting, computer keyboard work, driving or operating 
certain  hand held tools such as drills, hammers, chain saws.  
The disorder is frequently seen among miners, roadmenders and 
others whose jobs involve use of hand-held tools that 

"The first hint of CTS is a sensation of numbness or pain, 
usually on first awakening - as if parts of the hand had 
'gone to sleep' - typically felt in the thumb and index 
finger, but sometimes all the fingers tingle. The tingling 
sensation worsens on flexing or extension of the wrist, 
subsiding when the hand is bent inwards or at rest (in a 
'neutral' position).

"Numbness from carpal tunnel syndrome may appear after any 
movement that keeps the wrist overexerted for long periods: 
stitching, painting, doing manicures or giving a massage.  
Besides being annoying, the loss may lead to burns (due to 
lessened sensation of heat, pain, pressure), and the muscle-
wasting can make wrist movements clumsy.  As CTS progresses, 
wrist and thumb strength may seriously decline.  The reduced 
grip may make it difficult to grasp even light objects.

"The tingling can be set off or worsened by anything that 
makes the wrist tissues swell and compress the median nerve.  
Fluid accumulation during pregnancy or before a menstrual 
period, a Colles' (wrist-bone) fracture, gout, rheumatic 
(arthritic) swelling, and adrenal or thyroid disease are 
typical causes.

"Diagnosis of CTS is relatively easy by the typical night-
time or early-morning hand tingling, use of Phalen's test 
(flexing the hands at a 90-degree angle to see if and when 
tingling occurs) and Tinel's test (tapping the median nerve 
at the wrist to see if and how strongly it produces 
tingling).  The sooner the tingling appears, the more serious 
the condition.  Confirmation is with a nerve-conduction study 
and electromyogram (EMG), in which small electric shocks are 
applied at different spots along the median nerve and the 
muscle twitch is charted to show whether, and to what extent, 
the hand muscle has retained or lost its nerve supply.   

"Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome can be conservative: 
wearing a light plastic wrist splint at night, taking anti-
inflammatory medication by mouth or injection into the wrist, 
altering sleep positions and avoiding movements that worsen 
the disorder. With correct therapy, time and patience, the 
loss of nerve conduction can often be reversed.  Sometimes 
operating tools in a better, more neutral wrist position 
helps to alleviate the problem.  Modern designers are working 
on vibration dampers, shock absorbers and other ways to 
lessen the damaging vibrations of hand-held tools.

"If other methods fail to correct CTS, surgery to decompress 
the nerve may be suggested - a simple procedure done under 
general or local anesthetic that frees the trapped nerve and 
usually provides rapid relief. After a few days, stitches are 
removed, but splints may be needed until the wounds heals..."

[2.5] Is practicing scales, arpeggios, exercises, etc. useful?

You will find differing opinions on this matter, but most 
pianists will agree that practicing these exercises can help 
your technique if you approach it with the correct attitude.

Don't simply race through all the notes; treat the exercises 
as if they were real compositions, and give them just as much 
attention to phrasing and dynamics.  Also, try to find 
exercises which pertain to the repertoire you are learning.  
If you are studying a Bach fugue in E minor, for example, 
careful practice of the E minor, G major, and neighboring 
scales will help you much more than practicing the A flat 
major scale.  With Hanon exercises, you can increase the 
difficulty by transposing the studies into different keys, 
playing them backwards, playing one hand legato and the other 
staccato, playing them in canon, etc.  Be creative!

[2.6] 101 ways to play Hanon exercises

***I'm still compiling this part!  Any suggestions would be 
most appreciated!!!***


[3] Teaching! What about teaching piano playing?

[3.1] Checklist for transfer or new students 

This is a list compiled by Martha Beth Lewis, presented here 
with her permission.  She likes to send a complete report of 
the student when the student is transferring to another 
teacher, or vice-versa.  If you are a teacher, this would be 
a good guideline on what to look for when learning about a 
new student.  She does not keep this list confidential - and 
will share with the student, parent and the teacher involved.  
It is also suggested to keep a record of the report for 
future reference.

1.  general - when student began study and at what level
    (beginner or transfer.; parental attitudes), precis 
    of personality, mental acuity, cooperative spirit
    last recital piece(s) and date(s), any other 
    instruments played or desired to be played; 
    other music activities

2.  note-reading skills (does student read sharps and flats? 
    key signatures?)

3.  counting skills (eighth-notes yet? sixteenths?)

4.  technique studied; include exercises student would have
    started with me within the next 6-12 mos.; sight-reading 

5.  articulation skills (can student play accents? staccato?
    sfz? portato? feminine endings? phrase lifts? motif 

6.  fingering (how much does student do on own?)

7.  pedaling skills (damper? sostenuto? half-pedal?)

8.  literature studied

9.  ornamentation (which ornaments student can play; general
    knowledge of performance practice)

10. form and analysis skills, including keyboard harmony

11. ear-training skills

12. composition and improvisation (how much we have done;
    whether student seems interested in these areas more than 
    the norm)

13. memory (how easily and securely student memorizes; how he
    feels about memory playing; my recommendation for memory 

14. competitions and adjudicated exams (how student reacts
    to these; or how I think he might)

15. motivation (how well student motivates himself; what
    external motivators help or hinder)

16. poise (primarily stage presence)

17. summary (general recommendations for teaching strategies
    with this particular student; long-term prospects) 


[4] Digital Pianos

Please read "Digital Pianos FAQ" and "Digital Pianos Hardware 
List" available from anonymous ftp at under:


...or whatever similar method you used to get hold of this 
"RMMP General Topics FAQ".


[5] Player Pianos

The general subject of player pianos is far too great to try 
and cover entirely here.  Therefore, this list is limited to 
those instruments most likely to be found at the average 
estate sale, grandma's basement, or in an old dusty corner of 
a garage.  

This section of the FAQ was contributed by Rick Pargeter.  If 
you have any questions regarding player pianos, please 
contact Rick at  If you have 
corrections, etc., please e-mail the FAQ maintainer at the 
end of this FAQ.

[5.1] How old are they?

Most common players were manufactured between 1915 - 1929

[5.2] What are their values today?

Generally, an unrestored, average, run-of-the-mill, complete, 
70-year-old player is perhaps worth 10% - 20% more than the 
same vintage non-player.  However, it is always best to have 
it professionally appraised.  Some players bring very high 
values.  Player pianos which are grand pianos, original 
"nickelodeons" (coin-operated commercial units), and 
reproducing players are usually considered high-value player 

[5.3] Definitions of parts

Bellows - A component usually consisting of two like-pieces 
     of wood with a cloth hinge at one end, and covered with 
     a rubberized cloth.  One side of the bellows will have 
     an opening, so that when vacuum is applied, a mechanical 
     action occurs.  Conversely, when connected to pedals and 
     a check valve is added, they act as a pump, lowering the 
     pressure in the stack.

Stack - The upper part of the player.  This is the part that 
     plays the piano, and contains the valves, bellows, 
     spoolbox,  and wind motor.

Spool Box - This is the area where the piano roll is 
     inserted, and is usually behind a set of doors.

Tracker bar - The brass bar in the middle of the spool box 
     that has all those holes in it.  Each hole represents a 
     note on the keyboard.  They are sequential (i.e., C C# D 
     D# E F F# G G# A  A# B).  Tubes, usually made of lead, 
     are connected from the back of the tracker and to the 
     stack.  Each tube is connected to a channel in the stack 
     that controls a valve connected to the main vacuum 
     supply from the pump.

Pump - The lower part of the player.  The pumping pedals are 
     connected to the pump.  The pump usually contains the 
     wind motor regulation, and controls to divert the vacuum 
     to the stack, wind motor, and expression pneumatics.

Expression pneumatic - Since the piano's usual expression 
     pedals are covered up by the pump pedals, it looks as if 
     you cannot access them.  However, there is a way to 
     duplicate these pedals through the use of expression 
     pneumatics.  The piano controls are usually located 
     underneath the hinged key slip.  Usually, there is a 
     button which will control the equivalent pedal function 
     also.  In order to operate the loud pedal, simply push a 
     button on the control rail, and the loud expression 
     pneumatic will operate exactly like the loud pedal.  In 
     addition to the loud pedal, there are usually two soft 
     pedal expression pneumatics.

[5.4] How do they work?

Player pianos use suction, not pressure, to work.  As the 
pedals are operated, air is pulled from the pump and the 
entire stack is placed under a slight vacuum.  This vacuum 
operates a motor that turns the rolls in the spool box.  The 
piano roll has holes cut in them that when they pass over the 
tracker bar, the tracker bar's holes are uncovered.  A valve 
is operated when the holes are uncovered that applies vacuum 
to the striking pneumatic, which plays the note on the piano.

[5.5] Restoring player pianos?

As with any pianos, a key to safely restoring old instrument 
is patience and time.  It is best to have restoration done by 
a professional; however, anyone with a reasonable mechanical 
aptitude and patience can restore a player.

The materials used in restoring player pianos are very 
specialized, and are generally unavailable at your average 
local stores.  Vinyl covering (Naugahyde) will crack to 
pieces in a matter of days when used to recover pneumatics.  
Common rubber hoses (fish tank and automotive style) will 
collapse and turn brittle in a matter of months, rendering an 
irreplaceable antique musical instrument useless.  Also, 
white glue, silicone sealers, body filler, tape, etc., have 
no place in player pianos.  The tried and true methods and 
materials as used when manufactured are to be used in the 

[5.6] Books on player restoration

The main book for player restoration is:

  PLAYER PIANO - Servicing and Rebuilding,
  by Arthur Reblitz
  Published by The Vestal Press
  Vestal, NY 13850
  ISBN 0-911572-40-6 (pbk.)

For advanced rebuilders:

  Orchestrion Builder's Manual and Pneumatics Handbook
  By Craig Brougher

[5.7] Where can I get Player piano parts?

The main source for player piano parts is:

   Player Piano Co. 
   704 East Douglas
   Wichita, Kansas, 67202
   Tel. (316) 263-3241

[5.8] Where can I get new and used music rolls?

New Piano rolls are being produced today.  Some of the 
manufacturers and suppliers are:

   Upright & Grand
   Eric D. Bernhoft
   P.O. Box 421101
   San Francisco, CA 94142

   QRS Music Rolls, Inc.
   1026 Niagara Street
   Buffalo, NY 14213-2099
   Tel: (716) 885-4600
   Fax: (716) 885-7510
   AOL Keyword: QRS

   QRS Pianomation Center
   Solenoid player piano division
   (similar to PianoDisc system)
   2011 Seward Ave
   Naples, FL 33942
   Tel: (941) 597-5888
   Fax: (941) 597-3936

   Play-Rite Music Rolls
   P.O. BOX 1025
   Turlock, CA 95381

   Bluestone Music Rolls
   485 Gatewood Lane
   Grayslake, IL  60030

   Piano Roll Center
   108 Southcreek Circle
   Folsom, CA 95630

   Collector's Classics
   163 Main St.
   Thomaston, ME 04861

   Pianola Institute
   c/o Denis A Hall
   6 Southbourne
   Hayes, Kent    England

   Bam-Bam Piano Rolls
   1750 Karg Drive
   Akron OH 44313-5504
   source of collectible player piano rolls

[5.9] Any player piano associations?

Automatic Musical Instrument Collectors Association (AMICA) 
Suppliers of specialty items are also advertise here.  For 
membership information contact:

   Mike Barnhart
   919 Lantern Glow Trail
   Dayton, Ohio 45431

[5.10] Mailing list?

There exists a group called Mechanical Music Digest, formerly
called Automatic Musical Instruments, which has a mailing 
list maintained by Jody Kravitz and edited by Robbie Rhodes.  
If you want to subscribe, visit their website at:

[7] How Do I Represent Notes Using "Text" Characters? 

There are three major notation systems being used rather 
frequently today.  When you see a notation on your screen, 
you will have to judge for yourself which system is being 
used.  In most cases, that shouldn't be too difficult.  For 
instance if you see "RPT" written after the poster's name, 
you can probably assume they are using the "piano technician" 
notation (RPT = Registered Piano Technician).  And if you 
start seeing numbers higher than "7" being used after the 
pitch, you probably can assume the "MIDI" notation system is 
being used.

[7.1] The "General" notation method

There is a simple alpha-numeric notation system which has 
been in existence for some time and which may be used in 
postings on the Internet.  It is as follows:

  Going up starting at middle C:   c1  d1  e1  f1  g1  a1  b1
  Continuing up the next octave:   c2  d2  e2  f2  g2  a2  b2
  And the octaves above that:      c3  etc.

  ...and so on...

  First octave below middle C:     c   d   e   f   g   a   b
  Next octave lower:               C   D   E   F   G   A   B
  Next octave lower:               C1  D1  E1  F1  G1  A1  B1

  ...and so on...

  However, if you decide to print this out in hard-copy,
  publications rules change. On hard-copy, the numerals in
  the upper octaves are written as superscripts, and those
  below middle-C are written as subscripts.

  Source:  Baker, Theodore, Ed., "Pronouncing Pocket-Manual
  of Musical Terms", G. Schirmer, Inc., New York, 1947.

[7.2] The "Piano Technician" notation method

Some piano technicians seem to prefer a different system, 
which starts with A0 at the bottom and ends with C8 at the 

   A0  B0
   C1  D1  E1  F1  G1  A1  B1
   C2  D2  E2  etc.

   ...and so on, until you reach C8

[7.3] The "MIDI file" notation method

The MIDI files sequentially number keys from 1 at the bottom 
to 88 at the top:

   A1  A#2  B3  C4  ...  B87  C88

[7.4] On sharps and flats

The computer keyboard imposes a few limitations on the use of 
this notation system.  There is a sharp sign (# -- use the 
"pound" sign) on the computer keyboard, but no flat sign.  
The lower-case "B" (b) will have to suffice  The accidental 
is written one position to the right of the letter which 
indicates the note, makes it unambiguous.  For example, B# 
for B-sharp-second-octave-below-middle-C, b1b for b-flat-
first-octave-above-middle-C, etc.


[8] Miscellaneous Tidbits

[8.2] Interval nomenclatures?

Here's a crash course on interval nomenclatures.

  perfect unison:    2 notes on same pitch
  minor second:      1/2 step
  major second:      1 step
  minor third:       1-1/2 steps
  major third:       2 steps
  perfect fourth:    2-1/2 steps
  augmented fourth:  3 steps   (see enharmonic intervals)
  diminished fifth:  3 steps   (see enharmonic intervals)
  perfect fifth:     3-1/2 steps
  minor sixth:       4 steps
  major sixth:       4-1/2 steps
  minor seventh:     5 steps
  major seventh:     5-1/2 steps
  perfect octave:    6 steps

perfect consonances: unisons (or primes), fourths, fifths,
     and octave are only perfect, diminished or augmented.

imperfect consonances: thirds and sixths intervals

dissonances: seconds and sevenths intervals. only major,
     minor, diminished or augmented

Major intervals: 1/2 step larger than minor intervals. only
     major, minor, diminished or augmented

Augmented intervals: 1/2 step larger than perfect or major

Diminished intervals: 1/2 step lower than perfect or minor

Enharmonic intervals: intervals that use the same pitches but
     are spelled differently (and thus function differently).

Tritone: augmented fourths and diminished fifths are
     enharmonic, and both are commonly referred to as the
     tritone. (for example, C to F# and C to Gb are not the
     same interval, but they are enharmonically the same)

Other intervals:
   compound intervals...larger than an octave
   inverted intervals...major becomes minor, etc., but note
                        that perfect inverts to perfect,
                        imperfect to imperfect, and dissonant
                        to dissonant

Sources of this information:

Benjamin, Horvit, and Nelson, "Techniques and Materials of 
Tonal Music" (Houghton Mifflin, 1975):

[8.3] Octave spans of various pianos and harpsichords

[8.3.1] Harpsichord octave spans

   Pisaurensis (1533) = 169mm
   Ruckers            = 167mm
   Pratensis (1612)   = 166mm
   J. Mayer (1619)    = 168mm
   Giusti (1676)      = 174mm
   Italian (1695)     = 163mm
   Kirkman (1767)     = 162mm
   Graebner (1774)    = 156mm
       Schmahl (1794) = 158mm

[8.3.2] Piano octave spans (All grands unless otherwise noted)

   Cristofori (1726)         = 164mm
   Pohlman (square, 1770)    = 178mm
   Stein (1780s)             = 156, 158, 160mm
   Schiedmeyer (1780)        = 156mm
   Schiedmeyer (1785)        = 180mm
   Longman & Broderip 
          (square, 1790)     = 169mm
   Schantz (1790, 1805)      = 160mm
   Schmid (1794)             = 158mm
   Clementi (1805)           = 163mm
   Erard (Beethoven's 
          piano, 1803)       = 162mm
   Walter (1795)             = 159mm
   Walter (1803)             = 153mm 
   Walter (1815)             = 160mm
   Streicher (1816)          = 158mm
   Kirckman (1820)           = 162mm
   Broadwood (Beethoven's 
              piano, 1817)   = 166mm
   Broadwood (1819)          = 164mm
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