The term “electronic keyboard” refers to any instrument which produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, in some way, to facilitate the roll-out of that sound. Using an electronic 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 called 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 like a waterfall.
From it’s first manifestation in ancient Rome up until the 14th century, the organ remained the only keyboard instrument. It often did not come with a keyboard whatsoever, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that were operated using the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance from the clavichord and harpsichord within the 1300’s was accelerated by the standardization from the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys present in all keyboard instruments of today. The recognition in the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed from the development and widespread adoption from the piano inside the 18th century. The internet had been a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards since 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 another essential step in the development of the present day electronic keyboard. The initial electrified musical instrument was regarded as the Denis d’or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. This is shortly followed by the “clavecin electrique” invented by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The first kind instrument was comprised of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to enhance 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 perhaps the clavecin used electricity as being a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented this type of instrument known as the “musical telegraph.,” which had been, essentially, the very first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray discovered that he could control sound from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and thus invented a basic single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds through 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 the following major reason for 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 the best electric piano in 1915. The vacuum tube became an important component of electronic instruments for the next half a century up until the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade in the 1920’s brought a wealth of new electronic instruments on the scene including the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, and the Trautonium.
Another major breakthrough in the past of electronic keyboards came in 1935 with the creation of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the first electronic instrument able to producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so until the invention in the Chamberlin Music Maker, and also the Mellotron inside 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 within 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.”
The increase of music synthesizers within the 1960’s gave a strong push to 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 were 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 design of electronic musical keyboards.
Most early analog synthesizers, including the Minimoog and the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, competent at producing just one tone at a time. A few, including the EML 101, ARP Odyssey, as well as the Moog Sonic Six, could produce two different tones simultaneously when two keys were pressed. True polyphony (the creation of multiple simultaneous tones which permit for the playing of chords) qhscvn only obtainable, initially, using electronic organ designs. There were 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 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 make use of a microprocessor as a controller, and in addition allowed all knob settings to get saved in computer memory and recalled by simply pushing a button. The Prophet-5’s design soon took over as the new standard inside the electronic keyboards industry.
The adoption of Musical Instrumental Digital Interface (MIDI) because the standard for digital code transmission (allowing electronic keyboards to get connected into computers along with other devices for input and programming), and also the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in most elements of good digital piano, construction, function, sound quality, and cost. Today’s manufactures, like Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are actually producing a good amount of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and will continue to accomplish this well to the near future.