The term “electronic keyboard” describes any instrument that produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, somehow, to facilitate the development of that sound. The usage of a digital keyboard to create 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 created 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 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 only real keyboard instrument. Many times, it failed to come with a keyboard in any way, instead utilizing large levers or buttons which were operated using the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance of the clavichord and harpsichord inside the 1300’s was accelerated through the standardization of the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys found in all keyboard instruments these days. The recognition of the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed from the development and widespread adoption from the piano in the 18th century. The weighted electric piano was a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards just because a pianist could vary the quantity (or dynamics) from 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 another essential step in the creation of the present day electronic keyboard. The first electrified musical instrument was thought to be the Denis d’or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. It was shortly then the “clavecin electrique” designed by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The former 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 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 known as the “musical telegraph.,” which was, essentially, the first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray found that he could control sound coming from a 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 over a telephone line. Grey continued to include an easy loudspeaker into his later models which was comprised 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 creation 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 first vacuum tube instrument, the good electric piano in 1915. The vacuum tube became an important element of electronic instruments for the following half a century up until the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade in the 1920’s brought an abundance of new electronic instruments on the scene such as the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and also the Trautonium.
The next major breakthrough inside the past of electronic keyboards arrived in 1935 with the introduction of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the very first electronic instrument competent at producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so until the invention in the Chamberlin Music Maker, as well as the Mellotron within the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The Chamberlin and also the Mellotron were the first ever sample-playback keyboards intended 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 3 and a half octave instrument made 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 an effective push towards the evolution in the electronic musical keyboards we have today. The initial 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 which were self-contained, portable instruments able to 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 a digital keyboard. Then, in 1970, Moog debuted his “Minimoog,” a non-modular synthesizer with a built in keyboard, and this instrument further standardized the design of electronic musical keyboards.
Most early analog synthesizers, such as the Minimoog and also the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, able to producing just one tone at any given time. A couple of, like 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 (the production of multiple simultaneous tones which permit for the playing of chords) qhscvn only obtainable, at first, using electronic organ designs. There were numerous 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 such as 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 make use of a microprocessor as a controller, as well as allowed all knob settings to be saved in computer memory and recalled simply by pushing a 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 as well as other devices for input and programming), and the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in most aspects of portable keyboard piano, construction, function, quality of sound, and price. 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 definately will continue to do so well in to the foreseeable future.