The term “electronic keyboard” refers to any instrument which produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, in some manner, to facilitate the creation of that sound. The use of a digital keyboard to generate music follows an unavoidable evolutionary line from the very first musical keyboard instruments, the pipe organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The pipe organ is the oldest of these, initially designed 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 through a manual water pump or a natural water source like a waterfall.
From it’s first manifestation in ancient Rome until the 14th century, the organ remained the sole keyboard instrument. Many times, it did not feature a keyboard whatsoever, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that have been operated by using the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance in the clavichord and harpsichord in the 1300’s was accelerated from the standardization of the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys seen in all keyboard instruments these days. The popularity in the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed through the development and widespread adoption in the piano within the 18th century. The piano keyboard weighted keys was actually a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards because a pianist could vary the volume (or dynamics) from the sound the instrument made by varying the force that each key was struck.
The emergence of electronic sound technology inside the 18th century was the following essential step in the creation of the current 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. This was shortly followed by the “clavecin electrique” introduced by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The previous instrument was made up of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to improve their sonic qualities. The later had been a keyboard instrument featuring plectra, or picks, that have been activated electrically.
While being electrified, neither the Denis d’or or even the clavecin used electricity as being a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented this type of instrument called the “musical telegraph.,” which had been, essentially, the very first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray discovered that he could control sound coming from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, therefore invented a fundamental single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds from your electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them more than a telephone line. Grey proceeded to incorporate an easy 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 contributor to the development of the electronic keyboard. In 1906 he invented the triode electronic valve or “audion valve.” The audion valve was the very first thermionic valve or “vacuum tube,” and De Forrest built the initial vacuum tube instrument, the cheap electric piano in 1915. The vacuum tube became a necessary component of electronic instruments for the next 50 years till the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade in the 1920’s brought a wealth of new electronic instruments onto the scene including the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and also the Trautonium.
Another major breakthrough in the past of electronic keyboards came in 1935 with the creation of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the initial electronic instrument able to producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so up until the invention from the Chamberlin Music Maker, and the Mellotron in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The Chamberlin as well as the Mellotron were the initial ever sample-playback keyboards meant for making music.
The electronic piano made it’s first appearance in the 1940’s with the “Pre-Piano” by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). It was a three along with a half octave instrument made from 1946 until 1948 that came equipped 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 an effective push towards the evolution of the electronic musical keyboards we have 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 creation of synthesizers which were self-contained, portable instruments able to being used 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 having a built in keyboard, and also this instrument further standardized the appearance of electronic musical keyboards.
Most early analog synthesizers, such as the Minimoog as well as the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, capable of producing just one tone at the same time. Several, including the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, and the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones at once when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (the creation of multiple simultaneous tones which permit for your playing of chords) qhscvn only obtainable, initially, using electronic organ designs. There was 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 like the Oberheim Four-Voice, as well as the Yamaha series CS-50, CS-60, and CS-80. The very first truly practical polyphonic synth, introduced in 1977, was the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5. This instrument was the first to utilize a microprocessor as being a controller, as well as allowed all knob settings to be saved in computer memory and recalled simply by pushing some control. The Prophet-5’s design soon had become the new standard in 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 and other devices for input and programming), and also the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in all facets of digital baby grand piano, construction, function, quality of sound, and cost. Today’s manufactures, like Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are producing a great deal of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and will continue to do so well to the near future.