The phrase “electronic keyboard” describes any instrument which produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, somehow, to facilitate the creation of that sound. The use of a digital keyboard to generate music follows an inevitable evolutionary line from the first musical keyboard instruments, the pipe organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The pipe organ is the oldest of these, initially developed by the Romans in 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 such as a waterfall.
From it’s first manifestation in ancient Rome till the 14th century, the organ remained the only keyboard instrument. Many times, it did not come with a keyboard at all, instead utilizing large levers or buttons which were operated using the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance of the clavichord and harpsichord in the 1300’s was accelerated from the standardization from 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 from the development and widespread adoption in the piano inside 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) in the sound the instrument created by varying the force with which each key was struck.
The emergence of electronic sound technology in the 18th century was another essential part of the creation of the modern 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 followed by the “clavecin electrique” designed by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The former instrument was comprised of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to enhance their sonic qualities. The later was actually a keyboard instrument featuring plectra, or picks, which were activated electrically.
While being electrified, neither the Denis d’or or the clavecin used electricity being a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented such an instrument called the “musical telegraph.,” that was, essentially, the very first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray discovered that he could control sound coming from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and so 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 include 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 following major reason for the growth 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 initial vacuum tube instrument, the check that in 1915. The vacuum tube became an essential element of electronic instruments for the next half a century until the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade from the 1920’s brought a great deal of new electronic instruments to the scene including the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and the Trautonium.
The following major breakthrough within the background of electronic keyboards started in 1935 with the creation of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the very first electronic instrument competent at producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so till the invention in the Chamberlin Music Maker, and also the Mellotron within 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 with the “Pre-Piano” by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). This is a 3 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 rise of music synthesizers in the 1960’s gave a strong push towards the evolution from the electronic musical keyboards we have today. The 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 having a built in keyboard, which instrument further standardized the design of electronic musical keyboards.
Most early analog synthesizers, like the Minimoog and the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, capable of producing just one single tone at a time. A few, such as the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, and also 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 the playing of chords) qhscvn only obtainable, initially, 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 also 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 one to use a microprocessor as being a controller, as well as allowed all knob settings to get saved in computer memory and recalled simply by pushing a button. The Prophet-5’s design soon became the new standard in the electronic keyboards industry.
The adoption of Musical Instrumental Digital Interface (MIDI) since the standard for digital code transmission (allowing electronic keyboards to become connected into computers as well as other devices for input and programming), and the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in every elements of other, construction, function, sound quality, and price. Today’s manufactures, including Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are now producing a good amount of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and can continue to accomplish this well to the foreseeable future.