The term “electronic keyboard” refers to any instrument that creates sound by thepressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, somehow, to facilitate the development of that sound. The use of digital piano reviews to generate music follows an inevitable evolutionary line from the first musical keyboard instruments, the pipe organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The pipe organ is definitely the oldest of these, initially created by the Romans in the 3rd century B.C., and called the hydraulis. The hydraulis produced sound by forcing air through reed pipes, and was powered through a manual water pump or even 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 failed to include a keyboard in any way, instead utilizing large levers or buttons which were operated by utilizing the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance from the clavichord and harpsichord in the 1300’s was accelerated by the standardization of the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys found in all keyboard instruments of today. The buzz of the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed by the development and widespread adoption in the piano inside the 18th century. The piano was 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 in which each key was struck.
The emergence of electronic sound technology in the 18th century was the next essential step in the development of the modern electronic keyboard. The first electrified musical instrument was regarded as the Denis d’or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. It was shortly followed by the “clavecin electrique” introduced by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The former instrument consisted of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to boost 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 perhaps the clavecin used electricity as a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented this kind of instrument called the “musical telegraph.,” which was, essentially, the very first digital piano weighted keys. Gray found that he could control sound from the self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and so invented a basic single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds through the electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them spanning a telephone line. Grey went on to add a simple 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 another 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 initial thermionic valve or “vacuum tube,” and De Forrest built the very first vacuum tube instrument, the “Audion Piano,” in 1915. The vacuum tube became an important element of electronic instruments for the next half a century until the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade of the 1920’s brought an abundance of new electronic instruments on the scene including the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and the Trautonium.
Another major breakthrough within the background of electronic keyboards started in 1935 with the creation of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the initial electronic instrument capable of 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 the Mellotron were the very first ever sample-playback keyboards designed for making music.
The electronic piano made it’s first appearance in the 1940’s using the “Pre-Piano” by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). This is a three along with 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.”
An upswing of music synthesizers within the 1960’s gave a powerful push towards the evolution from the electronic musical keyboards we now 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 the production of synthesizers that have been self-contained, portable instruments capable of being used in live performances.
This began in 1964 when Bob Moog produced his “Moog Synthesizer.” Lacking a keyboard, the Moog Synthesizer was not truly a digital keyboard. Then, in 1970, Moog debuted his “Minimoog,” a non-modular synthesizer using a built in keyboard, which instrument further standardized the design of electronic musical keyboards.
Most early analog synthesizers, such as the Minimoog and the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, able to producing just one tone at any given time. A few, such as the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, and also the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones simultaneously when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (the production of multiple simultaneous tones which allow for your playing of chords) was just obtainable, at first, using electronic organ designs. There have been a number of electronic keyboards produced which combined organ izlcdl with synthesizer processing. These included Moog’s Polymoog, Opus 3, and the ARP Omni.
By 1976, additional design advancements had allowed the look of polyphonic synthesizers like 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 use a microprocessor being a controller, and also allowed all knob settings to become saved in computer memory and recalled by simply 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) as the standard for digital code transmission (allowing electronic keyboards to become connected into computers along with other devices for input and programming), and also the ongoing digital piano price have produced tremendous advancements in most elements of electronic keyboard design, construction, function, sound quality, and cost. Today’s manufactures, such as Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are producing an abundance of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and will continue to do so well into the foreseeable future.