The word “electronic keyboard” refers to any instrument which produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, in some way, to facilitate the roll-out of that sound. The use of an electronic keyboard to create music follows an unavoidable evolutionary line from the first musical keyboard instruments, the pipe organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The pipe organ is the oldest of such, initially developed by the Romans within the 3rd century B.C., and known as the hydraulis. The hydraulis produced sound by forcing air through reed pipes, and was powered by means of a manual water pump or a natural water source such as a waterfall.
From it’s first manifestation in ancient Rome until the 14th century, the organ remained the sole keyboard instrument. It often failed to include a keyboard whatsoever, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that have been operated using the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance of the clavichord and harpsichord in the 1300’s was accelerated from the standardization in the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys present in all keyboard instruments of today. The recognition in the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed from the development and widespread adoption from the piano in the 18th century. The portable digital piano had been a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards since a pianist could vary the amount (or dynamics) of the sound the instrument produced by varying the force with which each key was struck.
The emergence of electronic sound technology inside the 18th century was the following essential step in the development of the present day electronic keyboard. The very first electrified musical instrument was considered to be the Denis d’or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. It was shortly then the “clavecin electrique” invented by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The first kind instrument consisted of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to boost their sonic qualities. The later had been a keyboard instrument featuring plectra, or picks, which were activated electrically.
While being electrified, neither the Denis d’or or perhaps the clavecin used electricity as being a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented such an instrument known as the “musical telegraph.,” which was, essentially, the first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray found that he could control sound from the self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and so invented a simple single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds from the electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them spanning a telephone line. Grey went on to incorporate a basic loudspeaker into his later models which consisted of a diaphragm vibrating in a magnetic field, making the tone oscillator audible.
Lee De Forrest, the self-styled “Father Of Radio,” was the next major reason for the creation of the electronic keyboard. In 1906 he invented the triode electronic valve or “audion valve.” The audion valve was the first thermionic valve or “vacuum tube,” and De Forrest built the very first vacuum tube instrument, the directory in 1915. The vacuum tube became a necessary part of electronic instruments for the next half a century till the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade of the 1920’s brought a great deal of new electronic instruments on the scene such as the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and the Trautonium.
The following major breakthrough within the background of electronic keyboards started in 1935 with the development of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the first electronic instrument capable of producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so until the invention of the Chamberlin Music Maker, and also the Mellotron in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The Chamberlin and also the Mellotron were the initial ever sample-playback keyboards meant for making music.
The electronic piano made it’s first appearance within the 1940’s with the “Pre-Piano” by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). It was a three along with a half octave instrument created from 1946 until 1948 that came built with self-amplification. In 1955 the Wurlitzer Company debuted their first electric piano, “The 100.”
The increase of music synthesizers within the 1960’s gave a strong push for the evolution from the electronic musical keyboards we have now today. The very first synthesizers were extremely large, unwieldy machines used only in recording studios. The technological advancements and proliferation of miniaturized solid state components soon allowed the production of synthesizers which were self-contained, portable instruments competent at being utilized in live performances.
This began in 1964 when Bob Moog produced his “Moog Synthesizer.” Lacking a keyboard, the Moog Synthesizer had not been truly an electronic keyboard. Then, in 1970, Moog debuted his “Minimoog,” a non-modular synthesizer using a built-in keyboard, and this instrument further standardized the design of electronic musical keyboards.
Most early analog synthesizers, such as the Minimoog and the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, competent at producing just one tone at the same time. Several, such as the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, as well as the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones at once when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (producing multiple simultaneous tones that allow for that playing of chords) qhscvn only obtainable, in the beginning, using electronic organ designs. There have been a number of electronic keyboards produced which combined organ circuits with synthesizer processing. These included Moog’s Polymoog, Opus 3, and the ARP Omni.
By 1976, additional design advancements had allowed the appearance of polyphonic synthesizers including the Oberheim Four-Voice, as well as the Yamaha series CS-50, CS-60, and CS-80. The first truly practical polyphonic synth, introduced in 1977, was the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5. This instrument was the first one to utilize a microprocessor being a controller, and also allowed all knob settings to become saved in computer memory and recalled by simply pushing a control button. The Prophet-5’s design soon became the new standard within the electronic keyboards industry.
The adoption of Musical Instrumental Digital Interface (MIDI) because the standard for digital code transmission (allowing electronic keyboards to be connected into computers along with other devices for input and programming), and also the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in all aspects of weighted electric piano, construction, function, quality of sound, and expense. Today’s manufactures, such as Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are now producing an abundance of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and definately will continue to do so well to the near future.