Electronic keyboard

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A Keyboard (English Electronic Keyboard ) (of English keyboard [ ki ː bɔ ː d]:. Keypad) in the broader sense is a product derived from the electronic pianos and organs electrostatic phones keyboard instrument whose sounds are electro- mechanically, electronically or digitally generated and amplified.

In a narrower sense, a keyboard called only those instruments, which typically have 61 derived from the organ - keyboard keys and the characteristic feature of an Auto Accompaniment, Arranger keyboards. The players of this instrument are often called " entertainers " or ( euphemistically "Entertainer ").

Since the further definition on the basis of historical performance is not differentiated distinction to electronic pianos, synthesizers, home organs with respect to the sound engine and equipment has now been taken mostly on the short reference. In the language of the keyboard is sometimes also used for master keyboards and generally for all electronic keyboard instruments as anglicism in its original meaning. In the names of the instrumentalists is a band " keyboardist " for all players of a keyboard instrument that is not a piano or grand piano.

Keyboards in the strict sense are derived on the basis of over a electric piano less extensive and easier keyboard is smaller and lighter than these, from which the English term Portable Keyboard ( portable keyboard). Making music with the accompaniment requires a different game concept and the organ keyboard a different technique than a piano. For this reason, a keyboard differs significantly from an electronic piano or a piano.

  • 3.1 soloist
  • 3.2 band

Construction of the keyboard

Main criterion and advantage of a keyboard is its easy portability and compactness. The keyboard of a keyboard looks similar at first glance of a piano, but it differs in stop and feel much of pianos or wings. Since the keys normally do not press any mechanics, but only need to make electrical contact, the keyboard considerably less effort is required. This can be annoying when changing from or to the piano. This is because the keyboard keyboard is derived from the organ of the electronic organs and not by the piano.

The number of keys varies from model to model. Are possible up to 88 keys, so the range of a conventional piano. In the field of portable keyboards are but mostly 76 -, 61 - or 49 -key keyboards used. The buttons width normally corresponds to the standard piano keyboard ( 16.5 cm per octave), with simple beginner keyboards there are also narrower keys (14 cm per octave). A typical keyboard has 61 keys today.

Unlike the piano can be found on a keyboard various controls, such as buttons, knobs or sliders to control the functions of the keyboard can. Most keyboards also have a display on which the current settings are displayed. For this segment displays, advanced LCD displays or full graphics TFT screens are used. Many keyboards, especially in the home keyboard area, also have built-in speakers, so no amplification is needed through additional systems. These are sometimes also battery operated. On the back of the keyboards are usually jacks for a power supply, one or more audio ports, MIDI ports and connections for pedals ( about sustain or soft pedal ). Some keyboards have a floppy, CD, or memory card drive, with which it is possible to load additional tone colors, styles for the auto accompaniment or songs in MIDI format as presets in the internal memory.

The built-in speakers in a keyboard are usually designed for room volumes. Who wants to play very loud, must pay attention to a keyboard purchase that sockets are available for an external amplifier. Usually also a headphone output fulfills this function.

Sound production on an electronic keyboard

When pressing a keyboard key, a tone with him traditionally associated pitch is generated and influenced by an ADSR envelope corresponding to the key press duration in a special electronic system. The sound source can be among others a classical oscillator circuit to a sample. With built- in keyboard, the sound effects can also be affected.

Due to limited electronic power the number of concurrently producible single tones can vary greatly. Simple toy keyboards are sometimes monophonic when auto accompaniment is used.

Connecting to a Computer

Just about all keyboards are now supplied with a MIDI interface. There are two technical versions of it. Either you connect the keyboard via a MIDI cable to the MIDI input of the sound card or what is common today, directly via USB cable to a USB port on the computer. However, this connection is not used for the transmission of music, but of MIDI commands ( Note On, Note Off, Program Change, etc.) that will be implemented on the PC side by a corresponding sequencer or synthesizer program only in sounds need. There are two reasons to connect a keyboard to a computer:

1 Recording: You can record his own performances as MIDI note sequence, save and recycle. This also multi-lane MIDI files ( = Electronic Sheet music ) can be created so that you can build an entire orchestra. In addition, you can also create wave files ( = Audio ) files that can be saved or let it burn to CD.

2 You can control with the keyboard software synthesizer and thus expand the sound and effects possibilities enormous. Such soft - synths like Cubase, Studio One, Sonar, Music Producer, Synthesizer Workstation or Ableton perform both functions.


The history of the electronic keyboard instruments began in 1885, when Edward Norton Lorenz established the first practical electro-mechanical instrument. Twelve years later, Thaddeus Cahill presented the Dynamophon, the first synthesizer that produced only pure tones. 1906 electron tube was invented, the basis for many modern instruments. Friedrich Trautwein ertüftelte then 1924 Trautonium. Laurens Hammond in 1934 created a Hammond organ. Their sound synthesis based on sinusoidal tones; but they are in different octave ( drawbars ) mixed together and produce a complex sound on each key. The first voltage-controlled synthesizer was invented by Robert Moog, whereupon the Minimoog market in 1970. In the 1980s, established by the new possibilities of digital sound generation which is now common keyboard. The electric piano became popular with the advent of sampling technology in the 1990s. Also in the 1990s, the first Keyboards for laymen were put on the market in low price segment. Today there is a wide range of models from different manufacturers that cover various claims.

Use in the music

Keyboards are now mostly used to simulate or to unite the sounds of several of these instruments, traditional or historical electronic instruments. One can use, for example, a band or otherwise.


The widespread home keyboard is often used in house music and music education. Higher Keyboards, often equipped with convenient programming capability, are often used by solo entertainers, mostly in the field of dance and entertainment music. With the advanced MIDI functions can be simulated automates the entire band. The necessary MIDI arrangements are created by the musicians themselves or purchased. In the recording studio to support so-called " master keyboard " or " workstations " the musician with the composition or production music tracks.


In a wide variety of music genres keyboards are used. In the professional environment of the keyboard serves mostly several specialized devices, such as synthesizers, electric piano, sampler or Hammond organ. The keyboard is available in many styles the harmonic foundation of a piece of music.


Many professional keyboardist received their training on the piano or the organ. The entry on an acoustic keyboard instrument is recommended by many music educators. Nevertheless, a primary education in the Portable Keyboard in many music schools is now possible.

Functions of the Electronic Keyboards

Keyboards have various additional functions compared to the piano. These are available according to user specifications and price range of the keyboard available and can vary qualitatively strong. This can include:

  • Synthetic generation of real instrument sounds and selected electronic synthesizer sounds
  • Controllable accompanied by drum and instrument sounds a combo
  • Internal storage (recording) and played music playback data (" tape function" for musical performance )
  • Creating arpeggios from being played chords
  • Function for learning songs with the help of pre-programmed illuminated buttons
  • Playing and sharing of files in MIDI format

Digital pianos are sometimes equipped with various Keybordfunktionen or directly designed as a mixed form.


Here is a list of the best known manufacturers of keyboards:

  • Yamaha, Japan: By far the biggest manufacturer of keyboards. Entire range of products, from entry level through the middle class to instruments for professional use
  • Roland, Japan: At present only two models in the entry-level and mid-range segment
  • Korg, Japan: Middle Class and Professional Area.
  • Ketron, Ancona, Italy founded in 1981 company goal. Products for entertainers and amateurs. Keyboards in the middle-class and professional field. Specialty: button keyboards and sound modules
  • Casio, Japan: specialty: low-price instruments in the entry-level segment.