The phrase “electronic keyboard” describes any instrument that produces sound by the pressing or striking of keys, and uses electricity, somehow, to facilitate the roll-out of that sound. The usage of a digital keyboard to generate music follows an unavoidable evolutionary line from the first musical keyboard instruments, the pipe organ, clavichord, and harpsichord. The pipe organ is the oldest of these, initially developed 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 by means of a manual water pump or a natural water source such as a waterfall.
From it’s first manifestation in ancient Rome up until the 14th century, the organ remained the only keyboard instrument. Many times, it did not feature a keyboard at all, instead utilizing large levers or buttons that have been operated using the whole hand.
The subsequent appearance from the clavichord and harpsichord in the 1300’s was accelerated from the standardization of the 12-tone keyboard of white natural keys and black sharp/flat keys present in all keyboard instruments nowadays. The recognition from the clavichord and harpsichord was eventually eclipsed by the development and widespread adoption from the piano within the 18th century. The 88 digital piano was actually a revolutionary advancement in acoustic musical keyboards because a pianist could vary the volume (or dynamics) in the sound the instrument made by varying the force in which each key was struck.
The emergence of electronic sound technology in the 18th century was the next essential element of the creation of the current electronic keyboard. The initial electrified musical instrument was thought to be the Denis d’or (built by Vaclav Prokop Dovis), dating from about 1753. It was shortly then the “clavecin electrique” introduced by Jean Baptiste Thillaie de Laborde around 1760. The first kind instrument was made up of over 700 strings temporarily electrified to enhance their sonic qualities. The later was a keyboard instrument featuring plectra, or picks, which were activated electrically.
While being electrified, neither the Denis d’or or even the clavecin used electricity as being a sound source. In 1876, Elisha Gray invented this type of instrument called the “musical telegraph.,” which was, essentially, the first analog electronic synthesizer. Gray found that he could control sound from the self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit, and so invented a basic single note oscillator. His musical telegraph created sounds from your electromagnetic oscillation of steel reeds and transmitted them over 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 contributor to the development 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 digitale piano in 1915. The vacuum tube became an essential element of electronic instruments for the next fifty years till the emergence and widespread adoption of transistor technology.
The decade in the 1920’s brought a great deal of new electronic instruments onto the scene including the Theremin, the Ondes Martenot, as well as the Trautonium.
The following major breakthrough in the background of electronic keyboards started in 1935 with the development 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, as well as the Mellotron within the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. The Chamberlin and the Mellotron were the first ever sample-playback keyboards designed for making music.
The electronic piano made it’s first appearance in the 1940’s with the “Pre-Piano” by Rhodes (later Fender Rhodes). It was a three along with a half octave instrument created 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 in the 1960’s gave a powerful 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 which were self-contained, portable instruments competent at being 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, and this instrument further standardized the design of electronic musical keyboards.
Most early analog synthesizers, such as the Minimoog and the Roland SH-100, were monophonic, competent at producing just one tone at any given time. Several, like 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 (the production of multiple simultaneous tones that allow for your playing of chords) qhscvn only obtainable, initially, 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, and also the ARP Omni.
By 1976, additional design advancements had allowed the look of polyphonic synthesizers including the Oberheim Four-Voice, and 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 being a controller, and also allowed all knob settings to get saved in computer memory and recalled by just pushing some control. The Prophet-5’s design soon had become the new standard inside 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), and the ongoing digital technological revolution have produced tremendous advancements in every facets of piano keyboard weighted keys, construction, function, audio quality, and price. Today’s manufactures, such as Casio, Yamaha, Korg, Rolland, and Kurzweil, are now producing a great deal of well-built, lightweight, versatile, great sounding, and affordable electronic keyboard musical instruments and will continue to accomplish this well into the near future.