Upright piano with Jankó fingerboard

 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Information & Communication
Musical Instruments
Musical Instruments
1850 - 1899

The "classic" fingerboard, as seen on pianos, has been used for hundreds of years. There have been continual attempts to improve and reform it.

One of these attempts was the fingerboard invented by the mathematics student Paul von Jankó (1856 - 1919) in 1882. It is a development of the chromatic fingerboard and had numerous technical advantages when it comes to playing: The fingering is the same for all tonalities, the hand position is more natural and the span for playing intervals is larger than on standard fingerboards. In addition, it is possible to play glissandos in all tonalities and in chords.

The semitones are distributed in an even sequence on a double row. For technical reasons to do with playing, three of these double rows are arranged one above the other like terraces. The well-known black/white colour of the keys has been retained in order to facilitate orientation.

As the Jankó fingerboard requires complete relearning by the player, it did not catch on permanently in spite of its benefits. The company Rosenkranz in Dresden therefore constructed instruments in which old and new fingerboards were combined, as in the instrument from the collection of the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum).

Manufacturer: Ernst Rosenkranz, Dresden
Date of construction: approx. 1890

Inv.Nr. 32163

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