The word “electronic keyboard” describes any instrument that produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, in some manner, to facilitate the roll-out of that sound. Using an electronic keyboard to produce music follows an unavoidable evolutionary line from the very first musical keyboard instruments, the pipe organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The pipe organ is the oldest of these, initially created 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 through 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. Many times, it did not come with a keyboard whatsoever, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that have been operated using the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance in the clavichord and harpsichord inside the 1300’s was accelerated by the standardization of the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys seen in all keyboard instruments of today. The buzz of the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed by the development and widespread adoption of the piano inside the 18th century. The best portable digital piano was actually a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards just because a pianist could vary the quantity (or dynamics) of the sound the instrument created by varying the force that each key was struck.
The emergence of electronic sound technology in the 18th century was another essential step in the development of the current electronic keyboard. The very first electrified musical instrument was regarded as the Denis d’or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. It was shortly accompanied by the “clavecin electrique” invented by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The former instrument was made up of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to enhance their sonic qualities. The later was actually 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 being a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented such an instrument known as the “musical telegraph.,” which was, essentially, the 1st analog electronic synthesizer. Gray learned that he could control sound from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, therefore invented a simple single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds from the electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them more than a telephone line. Grey continued to incorporate a simple loudspeaker into his later models which consisted 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 cause of the development 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 very first vacuum tube instrument, the electric piano reviews in 1915. The vacuum tube became a necessary part of electronic instruments for the upcoming 50 years till 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 the Trautonium.
Another major breakthrough inside the history of electronic keyboards arrived in 1935 with the introduction of the Hammond Organ. The Hammond was the initial electronic instrument able to producing polyphonic sounds, and remained so until the invention in the Chamberlin Music Maker, and the Mellotron within the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The Chamberlin as well as the Mellotron were the initial ever sample-playback keyboards meant for making music.
The electronic piano made it’s first appearance inside the 1940’s with all the “Pre-Piano” by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). This was a 3 and a half octave instrument created from 1946 until 1948 that came equipped 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 a powerful push to the evolution from the electronic musical keyboards we have 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 the creation of 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 had not been 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, capable of producing only one tone at the same 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 (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, and the ARP Omni.
By 1976, additional design advancements had allowed the look of polyphonic synthesizers like the Oberheim Four-Voice, and also the Yamaha series CS-50, CS-60, and CS-80. The initial truly practical polyphonic synth, introduced in 1977, was the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5. This instrument was the first one to use a microprocessor as being a controller, and also allowed all knob settings to get 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) as the standard for digital code transmission (allowing electronic keyboards to get connected into computers and other devices for input and programming), as well as the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in all elements of click, construction, function, sound quality, and cost. Today’s manufactures, like Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are producing a good amount of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and can continue to do so well to the foreseeable future.