The phrase “electronic keyboard” describes any instrument that 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 an electronic keyboard to produce 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 referred to as 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 like a waterfall.
From it’s first manifestation in ancient Rome up until the 14th century, the organ remained the sole keyboard instrument. It often failed to feature a keyboard whatsoever, instead utilizing large levers or buttons which were operated by using the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance of the clavichord and harpsichord within the 1300’s was accelerated by the standardization in the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys found in all keyboard instruments these days. The recognition in the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed from the development and widespread adoption from the piano in the 18th century. The electric upright piano was actually a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards since a pianist could vary the amount (or dynamics) of the sound the instrument created by varying the force that each key was struck.
The emergence of electronic sound technology within the 18th century was the next essential part of the development of the current electronic keyboard. The very first electrified musical instrument was regarded as the Denis d’or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. This was shortly then the “clavecin electrique” introduced by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The previous 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 even the clavecin used electricity being a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented such an instrument known as the “musical telegraph.,” which was, essentially, the 1st analog electronic synthesizer. Gray found that he could control sound coming from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and thus invented a fundamental single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds through the electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them over a telephone line. Grey went on to add an easy loudspeaker into his later models which was made up 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 cause of 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 very first vacuum tube instrument, the digitale piano in 1915. The vacuum tube became a necessary component of electronic instruments for the upcoming half a century up until the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade of the 1920’s brought a great deal of new electronic instruments to the scene such as the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and the Trautonium.
Another major breakthrough in the background of electronic keyboards arrived in 1935 with the development of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the first electronic instrument competent at producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so up until the invention in the Chamberlin Music Maker, as well as the Mellotron in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The Chamberlin and also the Mellotron were the initial ever sample-playback keyboards intended for making music.
The electronic piano made it’s first appearance within the 1940’s using the “Pre-Piano” by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). This was a three as well as a half octave instrument created from 1946 until 1948 that came designed with self-amplification. In 1955 the Wurlitzer Company debuted their first electric piano, “The 100.”
The increase of music synthesizers inside the 1960’s gave an effective push for the evolution of the electronic musical keyboards we now 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 producing synthesizers that were self-contained, portable instruments able to 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 a digital keyboard. Then, in 1970, Moog debuted his “Minimoog,” a non-modular synthesizer using a built in keyboard, and this instrument further standardized the appearance of electronic musical keyboards.
Most early analog synthesizers, like the Minimoog and also the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, able to producing just one tone at the same time. A few, like the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, and the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones at the same time when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (producing multiple simultaneous tones which permit for the playing of chords) qhscvn only obtainable, initially, using electronic organ designs. There have been numerous electronic keyboards produced which combined organ circuits with synthesizer processing. These included Moog’s Polymoog, Opus 3, as well as the ARP Omni.
By 1976, additional design advancements had allowed the appearance of polyphonic synthesizers like the Oberheim Four-Voice, and also the Yamaha series CS-50, CS-60, and CS-80. The initial truly practical polyphonic synth, introduced in 1977, was the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5. This instrument was the first to make use of a microprocessor as a controller, and in addition allowed all knob settings to be saved in computer memory and recalled simply by pushing some control. The Prophet-5’s design soon became the new standard within the electronic keyboards industry.
The adoption of Musical Instrumental Digital Interface (MIDI) since the standard for digital code transmission (allowing electronic keyboards to get connected into computers along with other devices for input and programming), and also the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in all elements of weighted piano keyboard, construction, function, audio quality, and price. Today’s manufactures, such as Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are producing a good amount of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and will continue to do this well into the near future.