The word “electronic keyboard” describes any instrument that produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, in some way, to facilitate the development of that sound. The use of a digital keyboard to generate music follows an inevitable 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 such as a waterfall.
From it’s first manifestation in ancient Rome till the 14th century, the organ remained the sole keyboard instrument. It often did not include a keyboard whatsoever, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that have been operated by using the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance from the clavichord and harpsichord within the 1300’s was accelerated from the standardization in the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys found in all keyboard instruments nowadays. The popularity in the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed from the development and widespread adoption from the piano inside the 18th century. The cheap piano keyboards was a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards since a pianist could vary the quantity (or dynamics) in the sound the instrument made by varying the force in which each key was struck.
The emergence of electronic sound technology inside the 18th century was the following essential element of the creation of the present day 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 accompanied by the “clavecin electrique” designed by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The former instrument consisted 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 the clavecin used electricity as being a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented this kind of instrument known as the “musical telegraph.,” that was, essentially, the first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray discovered that he could control sound coming from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, therefore 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 proceeded to include 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 following major contributor to 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 best digital piano in 1915. The vacuum tube became an essential part of electronic instruments for the next fifty years up until the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade of the 1920’s brought a wealth of new electronic instruments onto the scene like the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and also the Trautonium.
The following major breakthrough within the history of electronic keyboards started in 1935 with the creation of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the very first electronic instrument capable of producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so till the invention from the Chamberlin Music Maker, and the Mellotron inside the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The Chamberlin and the Mellotron were the first ever sample-playback keyboards meant for making music.
The electronic piano made it’s first appearance within the 1940’s with all the “Pre-Piano” by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). This is a 3 along with a half octave instrument made from 1946 until 1948 that came built with self-amplification. In 1955 the Wurlitzer Company debuted their first electric piano, “The 100.”
An upswing of music synthesizers inside the 1960’s gave a strong 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 that have been 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 was not truly an electronic keyboard. Then, in 1970, Moog debuted his “Minimoog,” a non-modular synthesizer using a built-in keyboard, and this instrument further standardized the design 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 single tone at the same time. A few, such as the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, as well as the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones at once when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (producing multiple simultaneous tones which allow for that playing of chords) qhscvn only obtainable, initially, using electronic organ designs. There have been several 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 such as the Oberheim Four-Voice, and also 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 make use of a microprocessor as 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 had become 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 become connected into computers as well as other devices for input and programming), as well as the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in every aspects of electric upright piano, construction, function, sound quality, and expense. Today’s manufactures, such as Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are actually producing an abundance of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and will continue to do this well to the near future.