The word “electronic keyboard” describes any instrument which produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, somehow, to facilitate the development of that sound. Using 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 through a manual water pump or a natural water source such as a waterfall.
From it’s first manifestation in ancient Rome until the 14th century, the organ remained the sole keyboard instrument. It often did not feature a keyboard whatsoever, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that have been operated by utilizing the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance from the clavichord and harpsichord within the 1300’s was accelerated through the standardization of the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys seen in all keyboard instruments of today. The popularity from the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed through the development and widespread adoption of the piano in the 18th century. The top electric piano was a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards just because a pianist could vary the quantity (or dynamics) in the sound the instrument produced by varying the force that each key was struck.
The emergence of electronic sound technology inside the 18th century was the following essential element of the development of the modern electronic keyboard. The first electrified musical instrument was thought to be the Denis d’or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. This was shortly then the “clavecin electrique” designed by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The previous instrument consisted of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to improve their sonic qualities. The later was a keyboard instrument featuring plectra, or picks, that have been 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 type of instrument referred to as “musical telegraph.,” that was, essentially, the very first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray discovered that he could control sound from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and thus invented a simple single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds from your electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them spanning a telephone line. Grey went on to incorporate 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 another major cause of the growth 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 first vacuum tube instrument, the best portable digital piano in 1915. The vacuum tube became an essential component of electronic instruments for the following fifty years till the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade of the 1920’s brought a wealth of new electronic instruments to the scene including the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and the Trautonium.
The following major breakthrough in the past of electronic keyboards arrived in 1935 with the development of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the first electronic instrument able to producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so till the invention in the Chamberlin Music Maker, and the Mellotron in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The Chamberlin and the Mellotron were the very first ever sample-playback keyboards intended for making music.
The electronic piano made it’s first appearance inside the 1940’s with the “Pre-Piano” by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). This was a 3 as well as a half octave instrument made from 1946 until 1948 that came equipped with self-amplification. In 1955 the Wurlitzer Company debuted their first electric piano, “The 100.”
The rise of music synthesizers within the 1960’s gave a strong push for the evolution of the electronic musical keyboards we have now 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 have been self-contained, portable instruments capable of used 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, which instrument further standardized the style of electronic musical keyboards.
Most early analog synthesizers, like the Minimoog and the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, competent at producing just one single tone at any given time. A few, such as the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, and the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones at once when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (the production of multiple simultaneous tones that allow for the playing of chords) qhscvn only obtainable, at first, using electronic organ designs. There was a number of 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 look 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 to utilize a microprocessor as a controller, as well as allowed all knob settings to become saved in computer memory and recalled simply by pushing a control button. The Prophet-5’s design soon had become 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 be connected into computers along with other devices for input and programming), and the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in most facets of digital piano online, construction, function, audio quality, and expense. Today’s manufactures, including 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 into the foreseeable future.