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Encyclopedia > Electronic keyboard
An electronic keyboard.

An electronic keyboard or digital keyboard is a type of keyboard instrument. Its sound is generated or amplified by one or more electronic devices. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1527x835, 292 KB) Object: Yamaha electronic keyboard Photographer: Moribunt Date: 13:29, 11 May 2005 (UTC) File links The following pages link to this file: Keyboard instrument ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1527x835, 292 KB) Object: Yamaha electronic keyboard Photographer: Moribunt Date: 13:29, 11 May 2005 (UTC) File links The following pages link to this file: Keyboard instrument ... Piano, a well-known instance of keyboard instruments A keyboard instrument is any musical instrument played using a musical keyboard. ... This article is about the engineering discipline. ...


Modern usage of the term "electronic keyboard" typically describes a type of inexpensive synthesizer marketed to amateurs and children. The term is occasionally used as an umbrella descriptor for any electronic musical instruments with a musical keyboard (including but not limited to electric pianos, synthesizers, mellotrons, samplers, electronic organs, digital pianos, and arranger keyboards) but professional musicians generally refer to these instruments by name or simply as "keyboards", reserving the term "electronic keyboard" for the inexpensive type noted above. For other uses, see Synthesizer (disambiguation). ... An electronic musical instrument is a musical instrument that produces its sounds using electronics. ... The layout of a typical musical keyboard A musical keyboard is the set of adjacent depressible levers on a musical instrument which cause the instrument to produce sounds. ... An electric piano (e-piano) is an electric musical instrument whose popularity started in the late 1960s, was at its greatest during the 1970s and still is big today. ... For other uses, see Synthesizer (disambiguation). ... The Mellotron is an electromechanical polyphonic keyboard musical instrument originally developed and built in Birmingham, England in the early 1960s. ... An AKAI MPC2000 sampler Playing a Yamaha SU10 Sampler A sampler is an electronic music instrument closely related to a synthesizer. ... Classic Hammond B-3 organ. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ...


Such electronic keyboard instruments are typically inexpensive, smaller, with mediocre sound quality, and lack many features offered by professional instruments. They can generally be located in electronics stores side-by-side with stereos, video games and the like, or even in toy stores.


However, the line between "professional" and "amateur" instruments can often be blurred: professional musicians may use inexpensive keyboards for novelty or out of necessity (for example, reggae music in the '80s made frequent use of pre-programmed rhythm patterns on inexpensive digital keyboards), and due to advances in computer and electronics technology, many relatively inexpensive keyboards (under US$1000) have an array of features that would have been unimaginable on even the most expensive synthesizers of past decades. Reggae is a music genre developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. ...

Contents

Internal architecture

To facilitate the engineering processes of design and development of electronic keyboards, keyboards are internally divided into some major components which can be connected together by the means of industry standards. These parts include:

  • Musical keyboard: An electro-mechanical component which is used for playing.
  • User interface software: A program (usually embedded in a chip) which handles user interaction with control keys and menus.
  • Rhythm & chord generator: This part which is again in the form of software program produces rhythms and chords by the mean of MIDI commands.
  • Sound generator: A sound module which is capable of accepting MIDI commands and producing sounds accordingly.

A Sound module (sometimes referred to as tone generator) is an electronic musical instrument without a human-playable interface such as a keyboard, for example. ...

Functions and features

  • Auto accompaniment: Auto accompaniment is used on programmed styles to trigger specific chords that will sound on the style.
  • Effects: Nowadays, most keyboards have effects added on their memory. Most effects added are DSP, Reverbation, Auto Harmony and Chorus effects. These affect on the sample that is to be played.
  • Demonstration: Programmed demo songs loaded on the RAM of keyboards can help users for entertainment or add to their learned songs.
  • MIDI: Many electronic keyboard instruments are outfitted with a MIDI interface for the purpose of controlling (or being controlled by) another device with a MIDI interface. There are also keyboards which are not instruments at all, but are merely MIDI controllers which are used to control other MIDI instruments, which may or may not have a human interface of their own. (see sound module)

Look up RAM, Ram, ram in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is an industry-standard electronic communications protocol that enables electronic musical instruments, computers and other equipment to communicate, control and synchronize with each other in real time. ... A device, real or virtual, which generates and transmits MIDI data for operating musical devices or other devices which are electronically enabled for MIDI operation. ... A Sound module (sometimes referred to as tone generator) is an electronic musical instrument without a human-playable interface such as a keyboard, for example. ...

Concepts and definitions

an electronic keyboard.
  • Touch response (aka Touch Sensitivity) : A technology used for simulating the process of sound generation in chordophones which are sensitive to the velocity of key press. For implementation two sensors are installed for each key: a sensor detects whenever a key is beginning to be pressed and the other fired when the key is pressed completely. By a time reference a device can estimate the velocity of pressure. As the key mass is constant this velocity can also be considered as the strength of key press. Based on this value, the sound generator produces the proper sound.
  • After touch : A feature brought in in the late 1980s, whereby dynamics are added after the key is hit, allowing the sound to fade away, or return, based upon the amount of pressure applied to the keyboard. After-touch is found on many synthesizers, and is an important modulation source on modern keyboards. After-touch is most prevalent in music of the mid to late 1980s, such as the opening string-pad on Cock Robin's "When Your Heart Is Weak", which is only possible with the use of after-touch (or one hand on the volume control).
  • Polyphony: In digital music and electronic keyboard terminology, polyphony refers to the number of notes that can be played concurrently.
  • Multi-timbre: The ability to play more than one kind of instrument at the same time. Such as with the Roland MT-32's ability to play up to 8 different instruments at once.
  • Tempo: A parameter that determines the speed of rhythms, chords and other auto-generated content on electronic keyboards. The unit of this parameter is beats per minute.
  • Split point: The point where a keyboard is split to allow two instruments to be played at once. In the late 1980s it was common to use a MIDI controller to control more than one keyboard from a single device. The MIDI controller had no sound of its own, but was designed for the sole purpose of allowing access to more sound controls for performance purposes. Midi controllers allowed one to split the keyboard into two or more sections and assign each section to a midi channel, to send note data to an external keyboard. Many consumer keyboards offer at least one split to separate bass or auto-accompaniment chording instruments from the melody instrument.
  • Style: Pre-programmed styles, usually depend on the chord given by the player, consist of a variety of genres for the player to use.
  • Synchronization: Usually, styles on keyboards nowadays compose of two to four sections, so adding transistion effects, called syncs, can add that realistic effect that a listener and a player wants to have.
  • Auto harmony: A feature of some keyboards that automatically adds secondary tones to a note based upon chording given by the accompaniment system, made to make harmony easier for those who lack the ability to make complex chording changes with their left hand.
  • Wheels and knobs: Used in performances to add qualities to a sound that are not present by default, such as vibrato, panning, tremolo, pitch changes, and so on.
  • Keyboard response: Weighted or spring loaded keys. "Weighted response" refers to keys with weights and springs in them, which give a "hammer action" response similar to a piano. Most electronic keyboards use "spring-loaded" keys that make some kinds of playing techniques, such as backhanded sweeps, impossible but also make the keyboards lighter and easier to transport. Pianists who are accustomed to standard weighted piano keys may find non-weighted spring-action keyboards uncomfortable and difficult to play effectively. Conversely, keyboard players who are used to the non-weighted action may encounter difficulty and discomfort playing on a piano or electronic piano with weighted keys.

Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 538 pixelsFull resolution (922 × 620 pixel, file size: 140 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) A woman plays an electronic keyboard. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 538 pixelsFull resolution (922 × 620 pixel, file size: 140 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) A woman plays an electronic keyboard. ... A chordophone is any musical instrument which produces sound primarily by way of a vibrating string or strings stretched between two points. ... The 1980s refers to the years from 1980 to 1989. ... The 1980s refers to the years from 1980 to 1989. ... Cock Robin is a US pop-rock band, mostly popular in the 1980s, particularly in Europe where they were to become huge. ... The 1980s refers to the years from 1980 to 1989. ...

Parts and controls

  • Foot pedal/switch: This usually calls special effects programmed on each connected foot pedal/switch. Most common is the sustain effect, which is triggered by the foot pedal/switch (popularly called as Sustain pedal by keyboardists and musicians alike).
  • Modulation wheel: This modifies the vibrato effect on tones programmed on the system, like changing the rotary speed on organ tones and the distortion effect on electric guitar tones.
  • Pads: Pads call pre-programmed patches that play either once or infinitely. Commonly, brass pads are common on keyboards to add emphasis and stress on the play.
  • Pitch bend: This control is usually in the form of a wheel located on the left side of the keyboard that is used to shift the frequency of the note being played up or down. The amount of this frequency change is adjustable in some keyboards but is usually between one and two semitones up or down. The origin of this control is not from keyboard instruments, but from string instruments like the guitar in which the player can increase the frequency by pushing the string aside.

A semitone (also known in the USA as a half step) is a musical interval. ... For other uses, see Guitar (disambiguation). ...

A partial list of manufacturers

Alesis is a manufacturer of electronic musical instruments owned by Numark and based in Cumberland, Rhode Island. ... Casio Computer Co. ... Ensoniq Corp. ... The Kawai Musical Instruments Mfg. ... For comic book character, see Korg (comics). ... Kurzweil Music Systems is a company that produces electronic musical instruments for professionals and home users. ... The Moog Music logo Moog Music Inc. ... Roland Corporation ) TYO: 7944 is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, electronic equipment and software. ... Technics is a brand name of the Japanese company Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. ... Yamaha redirects here. ... M-Audio logo M-Audio (formerly Midiman), a business unit of Avid Technology, is a manufacturer of a variety of digital audio workstation interfaces, keyboard MIDI controllers, condenser microphones, and studio monitors, among other products. ...

See also

For other uses, see Synthesizer (disambiguation). ... A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument played with a musical keyboard. ... Keyboard Magazine Keyboard Magazine is a Music Magazine covering the Electronic Music Instrument commondly called the Keyboard. ...

External links

  • Introduction to professional keyboards and home keyboards
  • How many keys should be on the keyboard
  • Vintage Synthesizer and Electronic Keyboard Resource -- Famous players, suggested listening, and history

  Results from FactBites:
 
eBay Guides - Electronic Keyboard Buying Guide (0 words)
Electronic keyboards give you a great way to explore music and learn to play an instrument.
Most electronic keyboards have a MIDI port that allows your keyboard to communicate with your computer and other electronic devices.
Electronic keyboard stands and racks: Sometimes your lap or a desktop is all you need to play, but if you own a larger electronic keyboard or play in a band, invest in a stand or rack.
Electronic Keyboard? (0 words)
Usually when people say "electronic keyboard," they are talking about a synthesizer ("synth").
In a synth, the least expensive keyboard under discussion here, the sound is produced artificially by manipulating waveforms.
There is further discussion of this topic regarding a digital piano vs electronic keyboard on my questions and answers for students and parents.
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